Book to read: Hugh Stretton’s Australia Fair


In 1970, Hugh Stretton, Australia’s first great urbanist, wrote and self‐ published an urban best‐seller, Ideas for Australian Cities. The book disdained the anti‐suburbanism of elites and offered a much more intelligent assessment of suburbia’s strengths, weaknesses and possibilities. His most recent book, Australia Fair (UNSW Press, 2005), addresses the environmental menace and concludes, as I do, that some form of resource rationing will be forced upon us. Reflecting on the great rationing exercises that saw us through World War II and its reconstruction phase, Stretton believes that their success can be repeated: ‘But it is likely to depend, now as then, on three achievements which look unlikely as this is written. We must believe the dangers are real and deadly. We must hope to survive them by radical action, self‐restraint and sacrifice. And we must attract the necessary solidarity by a serious reduction of our inequalities.’

From Brendan Gleeson’s essay “Waking from the Dream” in Griffith Review 20


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