By modern standards, my grandfather would probably be considered an environmental criminal. To clear land for his farmhouse in north-eastern Victoria — and for his milking sheds, pig pens, chicken sheds, blacksmith shop and other outbuildings — he cleared hundreds of trees. And he cleared thousands more for his wheat fields, cattle paddocks and shearing sheds.
Old man Hobbs would probably be found guilty of cultural appropriation, too, because he adopted the Aboriginal method of land-clearing. He burned all of those trees. He also established fire-delaying dirt paths through surrounding bushland.
This was once standard practice throughout rural Australia, where the pre-settlement indigenous population had long conducted controlled burns of overgrown flora — known as ‘fuel’ in current fire-management talk.