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The Biggest Estate on Earth: How Aborigines Made Australia

The Biggest Estate on Earth: How Aborigines Made Australia

Paperback

By (author) Bill Gammage

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  • Publisher: Allen & Unwin
  • Format: Paperback | 384 pages
  • Dimensions: 172mm x 242mm x 30mm | 1,061g
  • Publication date: 1 April 2013
  • Publication City/Country: St Leonards
  • ISBN 10: 174331132X
  • ISBN 13: 9781743311325
  • Edition statement: Reprint
  • Sales rank: 5,879

Product description

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.

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Author information

Bill Gammage is the author of The Broken Years: Australian Soldiers in the Great War.

Review quote

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

Table of contents

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