The Biggest Estate on Earth: How Aborigines Made Australia (Google eBook)

Front Cover
Allen & Unwin, 2011 - History - 434 pages
15 Reviews
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.

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
4 stars
3 stars
2 stars
1 star

Review: The Biggest Estate on Earth: How Aborigines Made Australia

User Review  - Rosemary - Goodreads

Very interesting premise and convincingly written. It became repetitive so I did not finish all of it. The repetition (from different sources) may have been necessary to make the author's case against ... Read full review

Review: The Biggest Estate on Earth: How Aborigines Made Australia

User Review  - Vivian Blaxell - Goodreads

My conception of my country is fundamentally and forever changed. Read full review


Why was Aboriginal land management possible?
How was land managed?
Appendix 1 Science historyand landscape
Appendix 2 Current botanical names for plants named with capitals in the text

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2011)

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.

Bibliographic information