Bill Gammage – The Future Makers

manningclarkhouse 13 September 2014

The Manning Clark House 2014 Dymphna Clark Lecture features Bill Gammage with his lecture titled The Future Makers. This talk sketches how Aboriginal people managed land at the time Europeans arrived (“1788”). They allied with fire and no fire to distribute plants, and used plant distribution to locate animals. 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 into patterns. Similar patterns can be glimpsed elsewhere, notably in north America, even where people were farmers, so the question arises whether Australian patterns might illuminate pre-contact land management elsewhere.

Bill Gammage is an adjunct professor in the Humanities Research Centre at the Australian National University (ANU), researching Aboriginal land management at the time of contact (“1788”). He was an ANU undergraduate and postgraduate before teaching history at the Universities of Papua New Guinea (1966, 1972-6) and Adelaide (1977-96). He wrote The Broken Years on Australian soldiers in the Great War (1974+), An Australian in the First World War (1976), Narrandera Shire (1986), The Sky Travellers on the 1938-39 Hagen-Sepik Patrol in New Guinea (1998), and The Biggest Estate on Earth: How Aborigines made Australia (2011). He was made a Freeman of the Shire of Narrandera in 1987, a fellow of the Australian Academy of Social Sciences in 1991, and an AM in 2005.

When: Tuesday 14th October, 6pm
Where: The National Library, Conference Room
Admission: $20/$10 (Concession)
Bookings: or 02 6295 1808

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