Hardie Grant Travel is pleased to announce the acquisition of Fire Country, the memoir of Indigenous fire practitioner Victor Steffensen. The current surge of bushfires raging across Australia has led Hardie Grant Travel to bring forward publication to the first half of 2020.

Steffensen is dedicated to revitalising ancient, Indigenous fire knowledge across Australia and abroad. His story is one that highlights the strength of First Nations people’s connection to country, their ability to ‘read’ the land and identify whether it’s sick or healthy, and their incredible resilience in the face of ignorance towards them.

Steffensen’s cultural and ecological knowledge was predominantly taught to him by two Awu-Laya Elders, Dr George Musgrave and Dr Tommy George. In 1992, the trio created an initiative of reviving Aboriginal fire practices in the remote Cape York Peninsula, and over time their work has been recognised by many mainstream agencies. Yet there is still a long way to go. Steffensen is mindful of the devastation and deaths caused by bushfires, but wants all Australians to appreciate fire as a tool for managing and regenerating the land, rather than as a hazard.

Steffensen says, ‘The process of implementing Aboriginal fire knowledge has been a long, hard road. This book comes with strong intentions to recognise and respect the value of Indigenous knowledge in the country that we share. With the rise of climate change and devastating wildfires degrading our landscapes, this book is written in the hope that people will reconnect with the land and prevail against one of the world’s toughest environmental challenges in its history.’ Steffensen also hopes Fire Country will be a turning point for younger generations of Australians to reconnect with the land again.

Hardie Grant Travel publisher Melissa Kayser says, ’I came across Victor’s work while reading reports of the recent bushfires, and once I understood how much of what’s happening across Australia is in fact avoidable, I felt it was necessary to bring this knowledge to a wider audience as soon as possible. I continue to be amazed by the generosity of First Nations people, as Victor’s main aim is to share his knowledge with all Australians. His writing is unassuming and honest, making his story incredibly compelling.’

Fire Country is due to be published in March 2020, as part of a growing list of Indigenous titles for Hardie Grant Travel. Over the past two years Kayser has published two books with respected Indigenous writer, Professor Marcia Langton, Marcia Langton: Welcome to Country and Welcome to Country youth edition, as well as Thomas Mayor’s book on the Uluru Statement from the Heart, Finding the Heart of the Nation, and has a book with Bruce Pascoe lined up for late 2020.