A WAGGA-educated academic historian returned to town at the weekend giving residents a new insight into the ‘Wagga Wagga’ name.
Professor Bill Gammage from the Australian National University was invited to speak by the Wagga and District Historical Society about his latest publication telling those in attendance ‘Wagga’ means more than just ‘place of many crows’.
His book, The Biggest Estate on Earth: How Aborigines Made Australia, explores the discovery that Aboriginal people managed the land in far more systematic and scientific ways than ever before realised using a complex system of land management in fire and life cycles of native plants to ensure plentiful wildlife and plant foods throughout the year.
“It argues that Aborigines organised plants and distributed them in a way that would allow them to organise animals,” Mr Gammage said.
“So when you take the name Wagga, which means place of many crows, it would actually be describing the landscape so they would know what it looked like,” Mr Gammage said.
“They knew it meant there were plenty of crows, which meant there were lizards, snakes and grasslands which led to tubas and bulbs and a lot of open grass country.”
Mr Gammage started researching the book’s concept over 40 years ago while working on a farm in Galore and studying the history of Narrandera shire.
The book took him more than 12 years to piece together, which he said was a great relief to see published and so well received.
Mr Gammage was born in Orange, but moved to Wagga early in his life.
He attended Wagga Public and Wagga High schools before going on to further studies at the Australian National University in Canberra.