The Better Farming Train and the Mallee: Background information when reading Everyman's Rules for Scientific Living

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Everyman's Rules for Scientific Living

A Novel

by Carrie Tiffany

Everyman's Rules for Scientific Living by Carrie Tiffany X
Everyman's Rules for Scientific Living by Carrie Tiffany
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  • First Published:
    May 2006, 240 pages
    Jul 2007, 240 pages


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The Better Farming Train and the Mallee

This article relates to Everyman's Rules for Scientific Living

Print Review

The Better Farming Train did exist just as described in Everyman's Rules for Scientific Living; it steamed out of Melbourne for the first time in October 1924 and returned for the last time in 1935, making about 38 tours in total. At each of its 10 stops between 500 to 2000 farmers and townspeople would attend the exhibits. You can browse a range of pictures of the train and its destinations here. In the top left you'll see the words "Browse Photo Collection" in red. Click any of the numbers underneath to see photos (we thought this a particularly fine image)

Robert and Jean set up home in the Mallee, a district in far north-western Victoria, south of the Murray River (the state of Victoria is in the south-east of Australia, see map). The Mallee is so named because the area used to contain vast numbers of mallee (an aboriginal word to describe particular varieties of eucalyptus trees).

The Mallee is effectively flat and low-lying, comprising predominantly of sand dunes. With the use of fertilizers some areas can support wheat and barley but it's a tough area to farm. Average rainfall is less than 11 inches (270mm) per year but this has been known to vary widely from 4.5 inches right up to 25 inches, and the groundwater tends to be highly saline.

The Murray River is the primary source of fresh water in the region and is overburdened by intensive irrigation. Summer temperatures are around 90°F (32°C) but have been known to get as high as 123°F. Winter temperatures are usually pleasant but frosts are common.

The Mallee County tourism site.

Filed under Cultural Curiosities

This "beyond the book article" relates to Everyman's Rules for Scientific Living. It originally ran in August 2006 and has been updated for the July 2007 paperback edition. Go to magazine.

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