Professor Bill Gammage has won the Prime Ministers Literary award for Australian History for his book The Biggest Estate on Earth: How Aborigines Made Australia. The $80,000 prize is awarded for an outstanding publication or body of work that contributes significantly to an understanding of Australian history.
Professor Gammage is a historian and adjunct professor in the Humanities Research Centre at the Australian National University. He is also best known as the author of the ground breaking The Broken Years: Australian Soldiers in the Great War.
Bill Gammage’s The Biggest Estate on Earth argues that the Aboriginal people managed the land in a far more systematic and scientific fashion than we previously envisioned. The Biggest Estate on Earth recasts, in a quantum leap, our perceptions of Aboriginal Australia and our understanding of the historic Australian environment and its land care. Gammage forces us to reconsider our intellectual landscape, and thus present day environmental practices, through his dramatic historical revisioning of our physical landscape. Gammage’s compelling central insight is that the landscape of 1788 was not natural but rather that it was made by Aboriginal people. The author again demonstrates a rare capacity to open a fresh horizon, capturing both history and his reader.