Books by Cameron Archer

Published by ACA Books

Cover of the Magic valley

The Magic Valley

By Cameron Archer. Based on decades of research and interviews with long time residents, the book examines changes to the environment of the Valley, beginning with the way it was cared for by Aboriginal people. In the process the book captures the changing patterns of the Valley’s social and agricultural history. Over 400 pages, with many images and maps. Cameron Archer compiled this detailed study over 40 years while living and working in the Paterson Valley. “Magic Valley” analyses the relationship between humans and their environment, starting with the impacts of Aboriginal land management and how this unwittingly benefitted the invading Europeans and their herds and flocks.

The Valley is likened to “The Magic Pudding”, the uniquely Australian children’s story about a pudding which immediately replaces the part taken, suggesting it can go on forever. Cameron feels the Valley has been treated like the Magic Pudding and has performed like one over the past 200 years. Whether this can continue has occupied his mind over many years.

The Paterson Valley has been the source of a diverse range of products and services throughout its 200 years of European exploitation. The reader is taken through the rise and fall of many industries. The book challenges the question of long term sustainability and what the future may hold.

An essential read for anyone with an interest in the Australian landscape and environment. Over 400 pages, with many images and maps.

cover of Highlands to the Limestone Plains

Highlands to the Limestone Plains

Cameron Archer has researched the life and times of Donald and Ann Cameron both in Scotland and in Australia. While it is a book based on a family story it is much more. He had always been intrigued with why a poor Scottish couple would leave their ancestral home with eight children and travel to Australia. 

He has identified a theme based around clearances, the Scottish Highland Clearances, the clearance of the Ngunnawal Aboriginal Peoples from their traditional lands and ultimately the clearance of pastoralists and settlers from the Limestone Plains to create Canberra.

Wool production is described as a driver of change in the Highlands, leading to the Clearances and the exodus of the Cameron family, ironically to first become shepherds where the Canberra suburb of Belconnen is now located.

Donald and Ann had five more children in Australia, the twelfth being the author’s great great grandmother. He details the lives and times of the next generation on the Limestone Plains, specifically around Ginninderra.

The book concludes with the creation of the Australian Capital Territory and the opening of the first Parliament House. The text is supported with maps and many images from Scotland and Canberra, past and present.

Published by Paterson Historical Society

Cover of St Anns

A History of St Ann’s Presbyterian Church Paterson

Written by Cameron and well known Hunter historian, Jack Sullivan, it is a detailed history of what was, before its closure in 2009, one of Australia’s oldest continuing Presbyterian churches. The building remains as a prominent landmark in the village of Paterson. Includes many photos and details of its ministers. 98pp.

cover of Glove Box guide

Glove Box Guide to the Paterson Valley

By Cameron Archer. A definitive guide to leisure drives in the Valley, 48 pages in full colour, with lots of photos. Based on 35 years of experience in the valley, Cameron Archer shares the secrets, delights and details of this special place – from Morpeth in the south, right through to the very cradle of the valley in the high country of Mount Allyn in the Barrington Tops National Park. The book fits in the glove box and includes a map and advice about checking road conditions. There are also web sites for further information.

cover of Federation

Personalities, Pragmatists & Visionaries – The Origins and Federation in Australia

Cameron studied and wrote about the process that occurred leading to Federation as a part of the Centenary of Federation. He traces the tortuous political path to federation, including links to personalities in Maitland and the Hunter Valley. An excellent summary and overview with links the Hunter. 28pp.

cover of settlement

The Settlement of the Paterson District

This is the first book Cameron wrote, published in 1986. It has been reprinted a number of times and in 2018 a third edition was published with a minor revision and digitisation. It gives an overview of the early years of Europeans in the Paterson District and how the land was carved up into large estates. The most relevant local maps are included including those from the 19th century as well as a range of important early images. 48 pp.

Published by Tocal (CB Alexander Foundation)

cover of timber buildings

Conservation of Timber Buildings & Fences at Tocal

This book shares the unique experience and knowledge gained through the conservation of timber buildings and fences at Tocal during the late 1980s and through the 1990s. This conservation has brought back to life one of the most amazing colonial farm sites in Australia. Cameron wrote this with Eric Martin AM Architect and Rod Morris whose skills with Australian Colonial buildings and fences enabled the works to be undertaken

Covers conservation, safety, environment, materials, equipment and tools, techniques and case studies and many images. 48pp

cover of visitor centre

Tocal Visitor Centre – New Use for an Old Shed

By Cameron Archer. This book documents the amazing and skilled conversion of a 19th century hay shed into a visitor centre while preserving the look, feel and heritage of the original shed. An exemplary and inspiring case study in the adaptive re-use of a heritage building. Cameron initiated and oversaw this project; the building is now an iconic function venue in the Hunter. 32pp

cover of silo mysteries

Colonial Silo Mysteries

By Cameron Archer and Val Anderson. This book unravels the mysteries of underground silos at Tocal, Cockatoo Island, Stroud, Norfolk Island and Camden Park. It develops a picture of grain storage in Colonial NSW and explains the silos in this context. Written with Val Anderson, long time Hunter historian and researcher, it records an otherwise unknown chapter in our colonial history. A fascinating story and easy to read with lots of photos. 68pp.

cover of climate
The Climate of Tocal

By Cameron Archer, Darren Bayley, David Brouwer and  Peter Gillespie. Cameron’s first task at Tocal College was to present a course about climate and weather to first year students. He had just survived a near death experience in Darwin’s Cyclone Tracy. Always interested in climate and weather this set him upon a path to learn about things local. The College was very committed to its fledgling weather station and it became an important part of student learning about climate and weather. The book benefits from the expertise of experienced agriculturists, David Brouwer, Darren Bayley and Peter Gillespie whose respective skills provide for a unique insight into the local climate. The text is supported by images of the various extremes at Tocal and in the district. 90pp.

cover of Aboriginal landuse
Aboriginal Land Use at Tocal – the Wonnarua Story

By Jennifer Laffan and Cameron Archer. The name Tocal is derived from the local Aboriginal dialect meaning big or bountiful which is understood to reflect the bountiful natural of the local landscape. Jennifer Laffan thoroughly researched the topic including much discussion with local Aboriginal groups. The book reflects this research as well as Cameron’s abiding interest in land use and management. This full colour book shows how indigenous people used the Tocal land before European settlement. It is one of few books available on the topic and much of it is applicable to other locations. 88pp.

cover of landuse

Tocal Code of Land Use Practice

Cameron developed a series of guidelines for the management of the Tocal lands which were seen as worthy of publication. Much is written about how farmers ought to manage land but it is complex, involving many competing requirements. The guidelines were taken by David Brouwer and written in an easy to read format with appropriate images. Some of these images show striking landscape changes over time. This book outlines how the issues of biodiversity, pollution and weed control, management of wetlands and waterways, and conservation of cultural heritage and landscape values are handled on a commercial sized property. 48pp.

cover of maitland on the hunter

Maitland on the Hunter

Written and researched with Brian Walsh it is the only history of Maitland in print. Learn why Maitland was for decades the largest town in NSW outside of Sydney. Covers Aboriginal and early European history, through to recent times. Includes flood data from 1820 to 2000 never before published. Comprehensive references and index. A ‘good read’ and a great gift for anyone interested in local or Australian history. It has been slightly revised and is now in its second edition. Also available as an ebook on an iPad. 142pp