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The Biggest Estate on Earth : How Aborigines Made Australia - Bill Gammage

The Biggest Estate on Earth

How Aborigines Made Australia

Paperback

Published: 1st June 2012
Ships: 5 to 9 business days
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RRP $39.99
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Booktopia Comments

Winner of the Queensland Literary Awards 2012 - History Book

Book Description

Explodes the myth that pre-settlement Australia was an untamed wilderness revealing the complex, country-wide systems of land management used by Aboriginal people.

Across Australia, early Europeans commented again and again that the land looked like a park. With extensive grassy patches and pathways, open woodlands and abundant wildlife, it evoked a country estate in England. Bill Gammage has discovered this was because Aboriginal people managed the land in a far more systematic and scientific fashion than we have ever realised.

For over a decade, Gammage has examined written and visual records of the Australian landscape. He has uncovered an extraordinarily complex system of land management using fire and the life cycles of native plants to ensure plentiful wildlife and plant foods throughout the year. We know Aboriginal people spent far less time and effort than Europeans in securing food and shelter, and now we know how they did it.

With details of land-management strategies from around Australia, The Biggest Estate on Earth rewrites the history of this continent, with huge implications for us today. Once Aboriginal people were no longer able to tend their country, it became overgrown and vulnerable to the hugely damaging bushfires we now experience. And what we think of as virgin bush in a national park is nothing of the kind.

About the Author

Bill Gammage is a historian and adjunct professor in the Humanities Research Centre at the Australian National University. He is best known as author of the ground-breaking The Broken Years: Australian Soldiers in the Great War.

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The Biggest Estate on Earth : How Aborigines Made Australia
 
4.3

(based on 9 reviews)

Ratings Distribution

  • 5 Stars

     

    (3)

  • 4 Stars

     

    (6)

  • 3 Stars

     

    (0)

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100%

of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

Pros

  • Deeply informative (8)
  • Easy to understand (6)
  • Well written (6)
  • Broad appeal (5)
  • Groundbreaking research (5)

Cons

    Best Uses

    • Reference (6)
    • Gift (4)
    • Older readers (3)
      • Reviewer Profile:
      • Everyday reader (6)

    Reviewed by 9 customers

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    4.0

    Must read for land managers

    By Jason

    from Pilbara

    About Me Casual Reader

    Verified Buyer

    Pros

    • Deeply Informative
    • Easy To Understand
    • Well Written

    Cons

      Best Uses

      • Gift
      • Reference
      • Special Needs

      Comments about The Biggest Estate on Earth : How Aborigines Made Australia:

      A good read for all land managers (farmers, pastoralists and conservation managers), related government agencies (all levels of government), environmentalists and bush fire agencies.

      Through detailed descriptions of the land and aboriginal land management of 1788 the book gives insights into how land can be better managed now.

      Comment on this review

       
      4.0

      Excellent information

      By Green Davey

      from Perth AU

      About Me Everyday Reader

      Pros

      • Broad Appeal
      • Deeply Informative
      • Easy To Understand

      Cons

        Best Uses

        • Gift
        • Reference

        Comments about The Biggest Estate on Earth : How Aborigines Made Australia:

        Bill Gammage sets the record straight on Aboriginal management of fire. This contrasts with the eco-mythology presented by some other writers, academics, and environmentalists. At a public talk in Perth, an Aboriginal member of the audience thanked him for his effort. I hope this book finds a place on the shelf of most Australians - it would be a useful reference for school and university libraries.

        Comment on this review

         
        5.0

        Great Book on an important subject.

        By Penguina

        from Gold Coast

        About Me Everyday Reader

        Verified Buyer

        Pros

        • Broad Appeal
        • Continually Relevant
        • Deeply Informative
        • Easy To Understand
        • Groundbreaking Research
        • Unique Interpretation
        • Well Written

        Cons

          Best Uses

            Comments about The Biggest Estate on Earth : How Aborigines Made Australia:

            Could change the way that we look at the Australian Bush.

            Comment on this review

             
            5.0

            It is vital for our future learning

            By Bruce

            from Woodend

            About Me Everyday Reader

            Verified Buyer

            Pros

            • Broad Appeal
            • Continually Relevant
            • Deeply Informative
            • Easy To Understand
            • Groundbreaking Research
            • Well Written

            Cons

              Best Uses

              • Older Readers
              • Reference
              • Travel Reading

              Comments about The Biggest Estate on Earth : How Aborigines Made Australia:

              This book presents great insights into 'The First Australians' and how we can and should learn from them. It should cause environmentalists to rethink how we prepare for bushfire and to not stop burning in order to preserve that which, has for thousands of years, been cared for via careful burning.

              Comment on this review

               
              4.0

              A must read for all thinking Australians

              By Magpie

              from Canberra

              About Me Everyday Reader

              Verified Buyer

              Pros

              • Deeply Informative
              • Groundbreaking Research
              • WELL RESEARCHED

              Cons

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                  Comments about The Biggest Estate on Earth : How Aborigines Made Australia:

                  Bill Gammage brings a new perspective to traditional views of Aboriginal culture. He shows us a culture based on thousands of years of expertise in farming and caring for the land, in modifying wilderness to be sustainably productive.It should make us reassess our ideas of wilderness conservation. All Australians should read this book.

                  Comment on this review

                   
                  4.0

                  Must read for Australians

                  By Penny

                  from Perth

                  About Me Everyday Reader

                  Verified Buyer

                  Pros

                  • Broad Appeal
                  • Continually Relevant
                  • Deeply Informative
                  • Easy To Understand
                  • Groundbreaking Research
                  • Unique Interpretation

                  Cons

                    Best Uses

                    • Gift
                    • Older Readers
                    • Reference

                    Comments about The Biggest Estate on Earth : How Aborigines Made Australia:

                    These kinds of forms annoy me. I've filled in as much as I want to but it keeps sending me back saying it's incomplete. That's the second today! It feels like some kind of harassment when the forms do that. You feel willing to start with and annoyed at the end.

                    Comment on this review

                     
                    4.0

                    Interesting

                    By Agi

                    from Melbourne, AU

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                    Pros

                    • Unique Interpretation
                    • Well Written

                    Cons

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                      • for everyone

                      Comments about The Biggest Estate on Earth : How Aborigines Made Australia:

                      Easy to follow. To learn more about this beautiful country is always good. Learning more about its vegetation... Australian plants constantly amuse me.

                      Comment on this review

                       
                      4.0

                      The real story of Australia up to 1788

                      By Bruno

                      from Sydney

                      About Me Bookworm

                      Verified Buyer

                      Pros

                      • Broad Appeal
                      • Continually Relevant
                      • Deeply Informative
                      • Easy To Understand
                      • Groundbreaking Research
                      • Unique Interpretation
                      • Well Written

                      Cons

                      • Biased

                      Best Uses

                      • Gift
                      • Older Readers
                      • Reference
                      • Younger Readers

                      Comments about The Biggest Estate on Earth : How Aborigines Made Australia:

                      Illuminating. Provides overwhelming evidence, from historical documents, that the Aborigines groomed the Australian landscape with fire up to 1788, adapting their methods to suit local soil and vegetation. Also provides a detailed rebuttal of the arguments to the contrary of those modern environmentalists who deny that aboriginal land management practices had any but a marginal role in the Australian landscape of 1788. In summary forms, tailored to student's ages and it should be considered as required reading in schools. I'm lending it to each of our teenage grandchildren, for whom it has turned out to be an eye-opener.

                      Comment on this review

                       
                      5.0

                      Excellent information text

                      By Win

                      from Perth WA

                      About Me Bookworm

                      Verified Buyer

                      Pros

                      • Deeply Informative
                      • Have Only Dipped Into It
                      • Well Written

                      Cons

                      • Have Found None

                      Best Uses

                      • Reference

                      Comments about The Biggest Estate on Earth : How Aborigines Made Australia:

                      I ordered this book to use for research into Aboriginal people and their belief that they are at one with the land.

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                      "This bold book, with its lucid prose and vivid illustrations, will be discussed for years to come." --"Australian Book Review"

                      Contents..Illustrations..Thanks..Sources..Abbreviations..Definitions..Foreword by Henry Reynolds..Australia in 1788..Introduction: The Australian estate..1. Curious landscapes..2. Canvas of a continent..Why was Aboriginal land management possible?..3. The nature of Australia..4. Heaven on earth..5. Country..How was land managed?..6. The closest ally..7. Associations..8. Templates..9. A capital tour..10. Farms without fences..Invasion..11. Becoming Australian..Appendix 1: Science, history and landscape..Appendix 2: Current botanical names for plants named with capitals in the text..Notes..Bibliography..Index

                      ISBN: 9781743311325
                      ISBN-10: 174331132X
                      Audience: General
                      Format: Paperback
                      Language: English
                      Number Of Pages: 384
                      Published: 1st June 2012
                      Publisher: Allen & Unwin
                      Dimensions (cm): 24.5 x 17.2  x 3.0
                      Weight (kg): 1.04
                      Edition Number: 1