Rethinking the Australian Landscape with Bill Gammage

The revolutionary book ‘The Biggest Estate on Earth’ challenges previously accepted concepts of how the Australian Landscape functioned before European settlement. The author, Prof. Bill Gammage presented his findings on Thursday 8th May at the ‘Managing Native Grasslands with Mosaic Burning’, forum hosted by Gecko CLaN Landcare Network.

Gammage’s book details how indigenous people lured game by creating and maintaining open grasslands in the landscape using burning. He spoke about how these grassland areas were burnt in a well-planned circuit that continued across generations. This kind of skilful burning allowed indigenous people to know where resources would be and when they could be utilised which assisted in their management.

He spoke about how the use of planned burning led to a reduction of bush fires, ‘a fire a day keeps the bushfires away’. Dr Fred Cahir, author and indigenous studies coordinator at Federation University of Australia also spoke about the role of fire management in aboriginal culture. The day was introduced with a Welcome to Country address by Neville Atkinson, Indigenous facilitator.

The day was attended by 60 people and was funded by the Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority. The forum will be followed by a field day on indigenous use of mosaic burning.