The Biggest Estate on Earth: How Aborigines Made Australia
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. Bill Gammage has discovered this was because Aboriginal people managed the land in ...more
All the same, throughout my childhood summers were something to look forward to. Sure, there were the occasional bushfires, but as someone said recently, those ...more
I've been meaning to read this book since I first heard about it when it came out. It was EVERYWHERE when it was first published, and there was much talk of how it was going to revolutionise Australian history.
Sadly, that doesn't seem to have happened, but this *is* an astonishing book that does completely turn Australian history on its head. Gammage essentially arg ...more
However, there are significant weaknesses in the book that should cause readers to treat the author's conclusions with caution. Indigenous voices are few and far between, for ...more
Starting with comparisons of early d ...more
Gammage's approach is relentlessly historical. He has gathered thousands of quotes from white explorers and settlers describing the land they first encountered. According to the forward by Henry Reynolds, 1500 ...more
In the “The Biggest estate on earth” Bill Gammage has created an exhaustive thesis that sets out that Australia at the time the first Europeans came was not the wilderness most Australians think it was. Rather, it was a managed landscape attended by an advanced society. The notion is contrary to the popular idea that Aborigines were primitive hunter-gatherers, and it challenges our concept of what might be the natural landscape of Australia.
Gammage’s research is exhaustive, although much of it ...more
This must be one of the most important books ever written about Australia. Bill Gammage is an extraordinary scholar. He set out to discover how humans have shaped the Australian environment, and spent a decade trawling the libraries and landscapes of Australia for clues. The mass of evidence he presents is truly overwhelming. He quotes letters, journals, newspaper articles, books and scientific papers. He includes 59 carefully selected images: paintings, drawings, photos. He is a profound observ...more
The Biggest Estate on Earth provided me a clearer perspective of the land management skills of the First Australians. The Australia that was first seen and documented in 1788 seemed like ...more
If a comprehensive variety of sources and repetition can prove a point, then Gammage should consider his point proved!
In his Introduction, Gammage states,
They first managed country for plant ...more
A yawning gap for me was the failure to even mention megafauna, the extinction of which undermines the author's thesis somewhat. Also, the author made a lot of hopeful assumptions in attributing landscapes to aboriginal i ...more