The Future Eaters

cover of The Future Eaters

Tells how humans have arrived in Australasia, and how their occupation has wrought massive changes on the landscape and its plants and animals.

When The Future Eaters was first published in 1994 it was hailed as a ground-breaking book. An acclaimed best-seller, it won several awards, including The Age Book of the Year in 1995 and the South Australian Premier’s Literary Award in 1996.

The Future Eaters tells the story of how wave upon wave of humans have arrived in the lands of Australasia, and how their occupation has wrought massive changes on the landscape and its plants and animals. For example, tens of thousands of years before white settlers brought their cultivation methods from the Old World to Australia, the continent’s Aborigines were already impacting on the landscape with their firestick farming and the hunting of marsupials the size of rhinoceroses.

Until the advent of The Future Eaters, the unfolding sage of environmental degradation was seen as a recent problem unrelated to the continent’s far longer history. This book contributes greatly to our understanding of how our land and its inhabitants may have evolved. Controversial still, it provides a new way of looking at ourselves as a people and placing ourselves in the landscape.

This ground-breaking ecological history of Australasia will enrich the understanding of anyone who wonders what the future holds for humanity.

The special hardcover edition pays tribute to the book’s status as a modern classic.


Part One – An infinity before man
1. The new lands
2. Australia in Gondwana
3. Land of geckos, land of flowers
4. Land of sound and fury
5. Meganesian enterprises
6. Splendid isolation
7. Sweet are the uses of adverstiy
8. The diversity enigma
9. The desert sea
10. Mystery of the Meganesian meat-eaters
11. A bestiary of gentle giants
12. Lost marsupials giants of New Guinea
Part Two – Arrival of the future eaters
13. What a piece of work is a man
14. Gloriously deceitful, and a virgin
15. Peopling the lost islands of Tasmantis
16. The great Megafauna extinction debate
17. Making the savage beast
18. There ain’t no more moa in old Aetearoa
19. Lost in the mists of time
20. Time dwarfs
21. Sons of Prometheus
22. Who killed kirlilpi?
23. When thou hast enough, remember the time of hunger
24. Alone on the southern isles, weirds broke them
25. So varied in detail – so similar in outline
26, A few fertile valleys
Part Three - the last wave: arrival of the Europeans
27. The backwater country
28. As if we had been old friends
29. Diverse experiences
30. Like plantations in a gentleman’s park
31. Unbounded optimism
32. Riding the red steer – fire and biodiversity conservation in Australia
33 Adapting culture to biological reality
Maps and list of photographs
Selected references