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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.
Greatest book on Indegenous Australia I have read.
A great book that describes Australia as it was in 1788, as observed by those present at the time and shortly after. Well researched with strong arguments and logical conclusions. Best book I have read this year, and one of the most enlightening of my life.
The Biggest Estate on Earth. How Aborigines Made Australia
Great boom. Must have for any personal and public library that likes to educate.
Everyone should read at least a few chapters of this book
It's eloquent, fascinating, and a game changer. Turns the commonly-held view of pre-European Australia on its head. A must read for everyone who loves this land and wants to do what's best for it. Last but not least, it gives precious insight into the traditional way of life of our Indigenous Australians and why 'connection to country' is so very important to them. I didn't understand this before.
Look out for more lke this.
This is a subject that needs to be recognised and understood by everybody in Australia. History pre white settlement in Australia has been poorly taught in our schools, and poorly researched in general due to lack of funding from the government. I am a farmer, and if the government put a fraction of the effort into understanding pre-white land management, instead of the millions it spends on telling us how to return our country to it's 'natural' state through the natural resources groups, we would all be in a better place, sustainably and financially.
The Educated Farmer
Willow Creek, South Australia
This is a great book that smashes prejudices and misconceptions about Aboriginal people prior to colonisation
New South Wales
Fascinating. Changes how you think about Australia
A new perspective on the Australian landscape and how the first Australians expertly managed it.
Elwood, Victoria, Australia
Of course you understand Aboriginal culture!
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
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.
An Essential Book for all Australians
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.
In depth study of Land Management.
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
The Biggest Estate on Earth : How Aborigines Made Australia
"A beautiful and profound piece of writing, one that has importance for us all." --"Age" "This bold book, with its lucid prose and vivid illustrations, will be discussed for years to come." --"Australian Book Review"
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
How was land managed?
6. The closest ally
9. A capital tour
10. Farms without fences
11. Becoming Australian
Appendix 1: Science, history and landscape
Appendix 2: Current botanical names for plants named with capitals in the text
ISBN: 9781743311325 ISBN-10: 174331132X Audience:
Tertiary; University or College
Number Of Pages: 384 Published: 1st June 2012 Publisher: Allen & Unwin Country of Publication: AU Dimensions (cm): 24.5 x 17.2
Weight (kg): 1.04
Edition Number: 1