Sunday, March 31, 2013

Bill Gammage

"When European settlers arrived, argues author Bill Gammage, the indigenous people had for thousands of years used sophisticated local fire management to turn many areas in Australia into what these European migrants described over and over again as being very like an English gentleman’s park. Not national parks, mind you. By parks, they meant the carefully tended acres of the landed gentry’s country estates back home...The landscape in those colonial artworks, he writes, was not natural but man-made by indigenous Australians who knew which plants to burn, how hot to make their fires, when to light them — in the dry of summer or the cool, moist winters — and how to keep them under control. They also knew which areas not to burn. Their aim, he says, was to produce the distinctive templates of heavily treed areas neighbouring grasslands, ideal for attracting and ambushing game, like kangaroos.
In areas where indigenous people were dispossessed by European settlers and could no longer tend their land, the trees grew back. And an Australian wilderness began to be brought forth, just a few hundred years ago..." { }.

For Bill Gammage, the whole project of The Biggest Estate on Earth started with a hunch caused by recognising anomalies between what he read and what he saw in the land around him. I can recommend a spot of gammaging in your own chosen landscape over the summer months, not perhaps as a typical holiday pastime, but as an activity that could transform mere scenery into the living cultural mosaic that is right before your eyes.

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1 comment:

  1. "...anomalies between what he read and what he saw in the land around him..." Sounds sort of familiar, for some reason.