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'-How Aborigines made Australia Biggest Estate on Earth

The Biggest Estate on Earth -How Aborigines made Australia

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Gammage, Bill
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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.

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.

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

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