Wheat, wages and weapons

The story of the Sunshine Harvester Works

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  • Published 20200804
  • ISBN: 978-1-922212-50-4
  • Extent: 304pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm), eBook

TWELVE KILOMETRES WEST of Melbourne’s central business district lies Sunshine, a growing urban centre that once housed Australia’s largest manufacturing industry. [i] Sunshine’s history holds tales of Australia’s transformation from a colony providing raw materials to the British Empire to an exporter of quality manufactured goods – and innovative political ideals – back to Britain. The doorway to this history opens with a golden grain.

In the mid-­nineteenth century, most European countries were self-­sufficient grain producers. By the end of that century, industrialisation and the globalisation of trade combined with declining transport and handling costs to make a global wheat market viable. Wheat was a high-­value commodity crop capable of withstanding the long journey from a colonial frontier. Australia’s wheat production had previously been entirely for domestic consumption, but between 1875 and 1913 it effectively doubled to meet the growing export market. At the onset of World War I, three quarters of the wheat consumed in Britain was being imported from the colonies. [ii]

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About the author

Lilian Pearce

Lilian Pearce is an early career researcher in the fields of geography and environmental history. Publications from her doctoral thesis Critical Histories for Ecological...

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