Fire in 1788: The Closet Ally by Bill Gammage
This chapter is solely based on how the aboriginals controlled and conducted their fires, Bill Gammage begins to ask his reader how the native aboriginals survived big bush fires in 1788 and states that they had “prevented bush fires by arranging Australia’s vegetation with fire” therefore they had made fire their “ally “ and learned how to shape the land for their benefit without harming the earth as one elder said in his chapter that ”if you do not burn the country then it will get poor and shut itself up” and that it was “no good for anybody” which shows us that fire was indeed a very important part in how the natives used to live. Gammage argues that the Aboriginals used fire for one main reason which was to simply determine and manage where specific plants would grow and where the animals they hunted could move to, hence vegetation would grow more often and be more useful and their hunting would be made easier. According to Gammage, there are two types of fires “cool fires” and “hot fires”. Cool fires were the very controlled and small fires where as the hot fires were the ones that were ultimately “uncontrollable” and more dangerous, however Gammage states that the Aboriginals dating back even before 1788 had “mastered cool fires”. On page 279 of the chapter, where Gammage quotes from “Fire the force of life” it states that to understand and control fires one must have an “intimate knowledge of the physical and spiritual nature of each portion of the land” and then Gammage later quotes Ludwig Leichardt (1845) that the fires were part of “systematic management” this all leaves us with the idea that the aboriginals were not these savage nomads drifting from place to place hunting for food and telling dreamtime stories, as we are all lead to believe from an early age but instead here we are shown that they were very much civilized in a sense that suited their lifestyle. The aboriginals had very distinct ideas...
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