+612 9045 4394
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
ISBN: 9781743311325
Number Of Pages: 384

Share This Book:


RRP $39.99
In Stock
Enter an Australian post code for delivery estimate

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.

Industry Reviews

"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"

Most important Australian History


If only more people understood the First People of the land now known as Australia.



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.

Brisbane, Queensland


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.

Willow Creek, South Australia


Mind opening


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.

Talbingo, AU


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.



The Biggest Estate on Earth : How Aborigines Made Australia

4.5 22








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


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
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 3.18
Weight (kg): 1.04
Edition Number: 1