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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
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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.

REVIEW SNAPSHOT®

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The Biggest Estate on Earth : How Aborigines Made Australia
 
4.4

(based on 17 reviews)

Ratings Distribution

  • 5 Stars

     

    (6)

  • 4 Stars

     

    (11)

  • 3 Stars

     

    (0)

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100%

of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

Pros

  • Deeply informative (16)
  • Well written (10)
  • Continually relevant (9)
  • Easy to understand (9)
  • Unique interpretation (9)

Cons

No Cons

Best Uses

  • Reference (10)
  • Gift (5)
  • Older readers (3)
    • Reviewer Profile:
    • Everyday reader (11), Bookworm (3), Casual reader (3)

Reviewed by 17 customers

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5.0

Mind opening

By 

from New South Wales

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:

      This is a great book that smashes prejudices and misconceptions about Aboriginal people prior to colonisation

       
      5.0

      Fascinating. Changes how you think about Australia

      By 

      from Elwood, Victoria, Australia

      About Me Everyday Reader

      Verified Buyer

      Pros

      • Continually Relevant
      • Deeply Informative
      • Unique Interpretation

      Cons

        Best Uses

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

          A new perspective on the Australian landscape and how the first Australians expertly managed it.

           
          4.0

          Of course you understand Aboriginal culture!

          By 

          from Canberra

          About Me Everyday Reader

          Verified Buyer

          Pros

          • Continually Relevant
          • Deeply Informative
          • Groundbreaking Research
          • Well Written

          Cons

          • slightly repetitious at times

          Best Uses

          • Gift

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

          I bought this together with Dark Emu as a gift for my husband. This is a scholarly version of that book with a heavy emphasis on proof. It is also the book Dicko said he went back and read after his time on TV show 'First Contact'. Really recommended for everyone who has no real knowledge of aboriginal culture and wants to learn. Not recommended for bigots

           
          5.0

          Revelations

          By 

          from Talbingo, AU

          About Me Casual Reader

          Verified Buyer

          Pros

          • Deeply Informative

          Cons

            Best Uses

            • Reference

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

            Australian history avoided by the British establishment. Evidence of the successful civilisation exiting for about 50,000 years before British invasion on the basis that Australia was not occupied.
            All Australains need to be informed of the content of this book.

             
            4.0

            An Essential Book for all Australians

            By 

            from Darwin

            About Me Everyday Reader

            Verified Buyer

            Pros

            • Continually Relevant
            • Deeply Informative
            • Groundbreaking Research
            • Unique Interpretation
            • Well Written

            Cons

              Best Uses

              • Reference
              • Special Needs

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

              Should be on all School and University Curriculum lists.
              How Aboriginal people are essential to all Australians and how they controlled this land for thousands of years.

               
              4.0

              In depth study of Land Management.

              By 

              from Narrabri AU

              About Me Everyday Reader

              Verified Buyer

              Pros

              • Continually Relevant
              • Deeply Informative
              • Easy To Understand

              Cons

              • Limited Appeal

              Best Uses

              • Reference

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

              Not a gripping book although the information supplied seems well researched and presented. The Author seems to have spent a lot of time checking and rechecking the facts as far as he can. It provides a lot of answers that I had about the way the land has changed over the years

               
              4.0

              A new look at an ancient ( local ) history

              By 

              from Central Coast NSW

              About Me Bookworm

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              Pros

              • Deeply Informative
              • Easy To Understand
              • Unique Interpretation

              Cons

                Best Uses

                • Australian History

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

                Extensive research on a subject that is little understood, even by Australian "history" experts. An enjoyable & enlightening read, this book has given me an insight into the nature of the vast interaction between the former caretakers of this country & their varied environments.

                 
                4.0

                Just started to read, but it is great so

                By 

                from Kinglake, AU

                About Me Casual Reader

                Verified Buyer

                Pros

                • Deeply Informative
                • Unique Interpretation
                • Well Written

                Cons

                  Best Uses

                  • Reference

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

                  I am just starting to read it. It was recommended, and I am interested on how burn-offs in the bush can help maintain it.

                   
                  4.0

                  Must read for land managers

                  By 

                  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.

                     
                    4.0

                    Excellent information

                    By 

                    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.

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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: Tertiary; University or College
                      Format: Paperback
                      Language: English
                      Number Of Pages: 384
                      Published: 1st June 2012
                      Publisher: Allen & Unwin
                      Country of Publication: AU
                      Dimensions (cm): 24.5 x 17.2  x 2.8
                      Weight (kg): 1.05
                      Edition Number: 1