Walsh School of Foreign Service

How Aborigines Made Australia

On March 26, 2014 from 3-4:30 p.m. at the McGhee Library in 301 Intercultural Center, Bill Gammage, adjunct professor in the Humanities Research Centre at the Australian National University, will be presenting on his book “The Biggest Estate on Earth: How Aborigines Made Australia,” winner of the 2011 Manning Clark House National Cultural Award (Individual), the 2012 Prime Minister’s Prize for History, the 2012 Victoria Prize for Literature, the 2012 Victorian Premier’s Literary Prize (Non-fiction), the 2012 Queensland Literary Award (Non-fiction), the 2012 ACT Book of the Year and the 2012 Canberra Critics’ Circle Award.

This talk sketches how Aboriginal people managed land at the time Europeans arrived (“1788”). People allied with fire and no fire to distribute plants, and used plant distribution to locate animals – that is animals, birds, reptiles and insects. This ensured that every species had reserved for it a preferred habitat according to Law, and that resources were abundant, convenient and predictable. The landscape was not natural in 1788, but made. From Tasmania to the Kimberleys, no matter what the dominant plant community, country was laid out in distinctive patterns. Some of these patterns were also evident in North America, even where people were farmers, whereas in Australia they were not.

Light refreshments will be served. RSVP here.