#Keyline Books — a Quick Review

#Keyline Books — a Quick Review

#Keyline Books — a Quick Review



In 2010 the late Geoffrey Booth bequeathed me the ‘Australian Keyline Research & Educational Storehouse’ (AKRES) or the ‘Keyline Archive’. Between then and his passing in 2016, Geoffrey and I worked closely together on building the archive and a number of other related projects, including the nearly completed ‘Genius of Keyline’ CGI project (with Georgi Pavlov). Prior to this my interest in Keyline has been effectively lifelong with my maternal Grandparent’s farm, ‘Myrtledale’, in Junortoun, Victoria, Australia, using Keyline principles in the placement of water storage dams and flood irrigation — systems I contributed to, helped build and then operated from as early as I can remember right up until the property was sold out of our family in the late 1990’s. My late Grandfather, Frank B. Dole Snr. (1915-2001) did not read the late P.A. Yeomans (1905-1984) books to help with the establishment of these systems, but he did follow them as so many did here in Australia — such was the pervasiveness and ubiquity of many of Mr. Yeomans’ concepts, that my Grandfather like many others, applied his techniques without knowing their origin.

P.A. Yeomans life’s work, is in my opinion, without peer. His 4 (in 6 editions) books are one part of the evidence for this. Outside of the listing in the preface of Ken B. Yeomans’ 1994 edited version of ‘Water for Every Farm’, there are few complete listings of his father’s books.

1. Yeomans, PA 1954, The Australian Keyline Plan, P.A. Yeomans, Sydney

This is a very original work in which its clear that some of the Keyline geography and geometry concepts were still being worked out. The erroneous ’Common Keyline’ concept for example, was described in this book and has been a cause for confusion ever since. It is still working with piped, sprinkler irrigation and is a good read from a historical point of view, however lacks the technical detail apparent in later works by Mr. Yeomans. It was a best-selling book in 1954 and was re-printed in that year — something that never happened before with a book on agriculture. 

Out of Print and only available at Antiquarian bookstores however is available here as an eBook


2. Yeomans, PA 1958, The Challenge of Landscape: The Development and Practice of Keyline, Keyline Publishing, Sydney

By far my favourite of the books of P.A. Yeomans — its not complete as it doesn’t look at the application of Keyline techniques on floodplain landscapes or flatter terrain — but it does speak to the late Mr. Yeomans vision for Australia and how Keyline might play a part in this. It is technically very useful when it comes to dam and irrigation design and construction.

It is also the first (and one of the only times) that the Keyline Scale of Permanence is mentioned, and the only case where its fully described.

Out of Print and only available at Antiquarian bookstores however is available here as a eBook


3. MacDonald Holmes, J 1960, The Geographical Basis of Keyline, Angus and Robertson, Sydney

To-date the only complete book written on Keyline by someone other than P.A. Yeomans. It is an excellent technical piece by the first person to write about P.A. Yeomans work (in 1946). Perhaps the best written book on Keyline as the late Mr. Yeomans’ writing style was often difficult to follow and needed multiple reads to comprehend.

Out of Print and only available at Antiquarian bookstores however is available here online


4. Yeomans, PA 1966, Water for Every Farm – A practical irrigation plan for every Australian property, Murray, Sydney

This is a book that misses the ‘Keyline Scale of Permanence’ however is a largely a technical piece and introduces for the first time ‘Flood-Flow Irrigation” and irrigation dam concepts for flatter lands. It was this book which led to the development of the famous ‘Carisbrooke Station’ in central-western Queensland by Anne and Charlie Phillott. 

Out of Print and only available at Antiquarian bookstores


5. Yeomans, PA 1971, The City Forest: The Keyline plan for the Human Environment Revolution,

Keyline Publishing, Sydney

This tiny book is one of Mr. Yeomans best, not just because it is succinct and perhaps his best writing, but because it shows some of the passion and vision that comes through in ‘The Challenge of Landscape’. Written mostly about the application of Keyline geography, geometry and techniques to new suburban development heralding the ‘Human Environment Revolution’ or ‘H.E.R’, it is a book of its time from that perspective and one whose incredibly practical concepts are still to be realised in urban design unfortunately.

Out of Print and only available at Antiquarian bookstores however is available here as a eBook


6. Yeomans, PA 1978, Water for Every Farm – Using the Keyline Plan, Murray, Sydney

This piece, which was reprinted in 1981 by Second Back Row Press, is ostensibly an amalgam of ‘The Australian Keyline Plan’ (1954) and ‘Water for Every Farm’ (1966). P.A. Yeomans’ son Ken B. Yeomans made mention of the deficiencies of this piece in his 1993 edition using the same main title (see below). It is a useful piece however the errors that Ken mentions and its reference to the ‘Common Keyline’ concept has, I believe, been one of the primary causes for much confusion around Keyline geography and geometry. Well-known authors such as the late Bill Mollison and more recently Mark Shepard have perpetuated this erroneous geometry.

Out of Print and only available at Antiquarian bookstores



7. Yeomans, PA 1993, Water for Every Farm: Yeomans Keyline Plan, Keyline Designs, Gold Coast

The last book on Keyline written to date. P.A. Yeomans’ son Ken B. Yeomans has done a solid job in bringing together all of his late father’s work in this piece. It has a number of valuable inclusions, reflecting Ken’s professional life as a Keyline designer. I believe it would benefit from being professionally edited and with new diagrams and graphics to really be the great book it could be. It remains however a necessary reference for anyone looking to understand and apply Keyline design.

Available here as a book and eBook







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