Attitudes to Drought in Outback Communities in South Australia




This paper explores the perceptions of drought by residents in outback South Australia and their associated responses to the drought. Behavioural Geography methodology is used with data drawn from interviews with pastoralists, business owners, and residents of small outback towns and Aboriginal communities. Although they were not resident in the region, the perceptions of tourists were also garnered. The results show that perceptions varied between the groups of people interviewed. Outback residents contrasted their own frugal water use with reports of wasteful behaviour by foreign tourists. Local inhabitants were largely ‘accepting’ of the drought, having survived worse droughts in the past and over many years. They were therefore of the sentiment that they would cope with future droughts. Despite the sentiments of acceptance, the dropping groundwater levels and continued lack of rainfall were leading to growing concerns for the future. The concerns point to a boundary to community resilience to drought in outback South Australia.