The Biggest Estate On Earth – Bill Gammage

https://m.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10204639217692394&id=1593767634&set=a.2970766280224.137849.1593767634&source=57&ref=m_notif&notif_t=like

– The Australian Estate –
This book describes how the people of Australia managed their land in 1788. It tells how this was possible, what they did, and why. It argues that collectively they managed an Australian estate they thought of as single and universal.Gammage
The Australian estate was remarkable. No estate on earth was on so much earth…
The book rests on three facts about 1788.
1. Unlike the Britain of most early observers, about 70 per cent of Australia’s plants need or tolerate fire. Knowing which plants welcome fire, and when and how much, was critical to managing land. Plants could then be burnt and not burnt in patterns, so that post-fire regeneration could situate and move grazing animals predictably by selectively locating the feed and shelter they prefer.
2. Grazing animals could be shepherded in this way because apart from humans they had no serious predators. Only in Australia was this so.
3. There was no wilderness. The Law—an ecological philosophy enforced by religious sanction—compelled people to care for all their country. People lived and died to ensure this…
Successfully managing such diverse material was an impressive achievement; making from it a single estate was a breathtaking leap of imagination…
Edward Curr glimpsed this. Born in Hobart in 1820, pioneer squatter on the Murray, he knew people who kept their old customs and values, and he studied them and their country closely in the decades of their dispossession. After 42 years in Victoria he wrote,
“IT MAY PERHAPS BE DOUBTED WHETHER ANY SECTION OF THE HUMAN RACE HAS EXERCISED A GREATER INFLUENCE ON THE PHYSICAL CONDITION OF ANY LARGE PORTION OF THE GLOBE…”
1788 management made resources as predictable as farming, and in times of drought and flood made them more predictable. Mere sustainability was not enough. Abundance was normal.
Like landowning gentry, people generally had plenty to eat, few hours of work a day, and much time for religion and recreation. A few Europeans recognised this, but for most it was beyond imagining. They thought the landscape natural and they preferred it so.
They did not see, but their own records show how carefully made, how unnatural, was Aboriginal Australia. It is time to look again.
Three rules directed 1788 management:
• Ensure that all life flourishes.
• Make plants and animals abundant, convenient and predictable.
• Think universal, act local.
These rules imposed a strict ecological discipline on every person. A few non-Aborigines have begun to think this worthwhile, but even on a district scale, let alone all Australia, none can do it.
How Aborigines did it is the story of this book…
“on barren or sandy ground, its character is that of open forest without the slightest undergrowth save grass . . . In many places the trees are so sparingly, and I had almost said judiciously distributed as to resemble the park lands attached to a gentleman’s residence in England.”
– Sturt
“…Two remarkable conical hills, perfectly free from timber, rose in the middle of the largest plain . . . The whole, as far as the eye could reach, was clothed with a thick coat of grass, rich and luxuriant, as if the drought, so destructive elsewhere, had never reached this favoured spot. It was Omio plain. By what accident, or rather by what freak of nature, came it there? A mighty belt of forest, for the most part destitute of verdure, and forming as uninviting a region as could well be found, closed it on every side for fifty miles; but there, isolated in the midst of a wilderness of desolation, lay this beautiful place, so fair, so smiling.”
– Haygarth
“truly beautiful: it was thinly studded with single trees, as if planted for ornament . . . It is impossible therefore to pass through such a country . . . without being perpetually reminded of a gentleman’s park and grounds. Almost every variety of scenery presented itself. The banks of the river on the left of us alternated between steep rocky sides and low meadows: sometimes the river was fringed with patches of underwood (or brush, as it is called) . . . in Australia, the traveller’ s road generally lies through woods, which present a distant view of the country before him . . . The first idea is that of an inhabited and improved country, combined with the pleasurable associations of a civilized society.”
– Dawson
“…typical of a great portion of the pastoral lands of Victoria. It consisted of undulating open forest-land, which has often been compared, without exaggeration, to the ordinary park-scenery of an English domain; the only difference which strikes the eye being the dead half-burnt trees lying about. To bring it home to the comprehension of a Londoner, these open forest-lands have very much the appearance of Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, presenting natural open glades like the east end of the former.”
– Haydon
> http://arts.gov.au/…/The-Biggest-Estate-on-Earth-(Chap-1).p…

– Explodes the myth that pre-settlement Australia was an untamed wilderness revealing the complex, country-wide systems of land management used by Aboriginal people… rewrites the history of this continent, with huge implications for us today. –
Winner, Prime Minister’s Prize for Australian History, 2012
Winner, Victorian Prize for Literature, and Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards (Prize for Non-Fiction), 2012
Winner, ACT Book of the Year Award, 2012
Winner, Queensland Literary Awards (History Book Award), 2012
Winner, Canberra Critics’ Circle Award, 2012
Winner, Manning Clark House National Cultural Awards (Individual Category), 2011
Short-listed, NSW Premier’s Literary Awards (Douglas Stewart Prize), 2013
Short-listed, Australian Book Industry Awards (General Non-Fiction Book of the Year), 2012
Short-listed, Australian Historical Association Prizes (Kay Daniels Award), 2012
> http://www.allenandunwin.com/default.aspx…

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: