Bill Gammage

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Bill Gammage
Native name William Leonard Gammage
Born 1942
Orange, New South Wales
Awards Manning Clark Bicentennial History Award (1988)
Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia (1995)
Queensland Premier's History Book Award (1999)
Member of the Order of Australia (2005)
Manning Clark House National Cultural Award (2011)
Prime Minister's Prize for Australian History (2012)
Victorian Premier's Prize for Nonfiction (2012)
Queensland Literary Awards History Book Award (2012)
Academic background
Alma mater Australian National University
Thesis The Broken Years: A Study of the Diaries and Letters of Australian Soldiers in the Great War, 1914–18 (1970)
Doctoral advisor Bruce Kent
Influences Charles Bean
Academic work
Institutions Australian National University (1997–03)
University of Adelaide (1977–96)
University of Papua New Guinea (1972–76)
Main interests Australian history
Notable works The Broken Years (1974)
The Biggest Estate on Earth (2011)

William Leonard "Bill" Gammage AM, FASSA (born 1942) is an Australian academic historian, Adjunct Professor and Senior Research Fellow at the Humanities Research Centre of the Australian National University (ANU). He was born in Orange, New South Wales, went to Wagga Wagga High School and then to ANU.[1] He was on the faculty of the University of Papua New Guinea and the University of Adelaide. He is a fellow of the Australian Academy of Social Sciences and deputy chair of the National Museum of Australia.

History studies[edit]

World War I[edit]

Gammage is best known for his book The Broken Years: Australian Soldiers in the Great War,[2] which is based on his PhD thesis written while at the Australian National University. It was first published in 1974, and re-printed in 1975, 1980, 1981 (the year in which Peter Weir's film, Gallipoli came out), 1985 and 1990. The study revives the tradition of C.E.W. Bean, Australia's official historian of World War I, who focused his narrative on the men in the line rather than the strategies of generals.[citation needed] Gammage corresponded with 272 Great War veterans, and consulted the personal records of another 728, mostly at the Australian War Memorial.

He has written several other books about the experiences of soldiers in World War I, including three definitive books about Australian soldiers in the war. He also co-edited the Australians 1938 volume of the Bicentennial History of Australia (1988).

Aboriginal peoples planning and management of Australia[edit]

In 1998, Gammage joined the Humanities Research Centre at the ANU as a senior research fellow for the Australian Research Council, working on the history of Aboriginal land management.[3] His scope was cross-disciplinary, working "across fields as disparate as history, anthropology and botany".[3]

In the subsequent 13-year period he researched and wrote the book The Biggest Estate on Earth: How Aborigines made Australia,[4] released in October 2011. It won the 2012 Prime Minister's Prize for Australian History in the Prime Minister's Literary Awards,[2][5] the 2011 Manning Clark House National Cultural Awards in the individual category, was shortlisted for the 2012 Kay Daniels Award,[6] the History Book Award of the 2012 Queensland Literary Awards[7] and awarded the 2012 Victorian Premier's Literary Awards overall Victorian Prize for Literature on top of the non-fiction category prize.[8][9]


As a historical adviser, Gammage has worked on many documentaries and his writing is cited as an authoritative source on Australia's participation in World War I.[10] For the film Gallipoli directed by Peter Weir, Gammage was employed as the military advisor[11] and he worked on the text that David Williamson turned into the screen play of the film.

Local history of Narrandera[edit]

Gammage produced a historical study of the Shire of Narrandera.[12] Gammage was made a freeman of Narrandera Shire Council in 1987.[1]

Adelaide ANZAC Day commentary[edit]

He was part of the Australian Broadcasting Commission Adelaide ANZAC Day Commemorative March commentary team until 2015.

Awards and nominations[edit]

  • 1988 – ABC/ABA Manning Clark Bicentennial History Award, for his book Narrandera Shire
  • 1999 – Queensland Premier's Literary Awards, History Book Award for The Sky Travellers: Journeys in New Guinea 1938–39[13]
  • 1999 – shortlisted in the New South Wales Premier's History Awards for The Sky Travellers: Journeys in New Guinea 1938–39
  • 2005 – Member of the Order of Australia (AM)[14]
  • 2011 – Manning Clark House National Cultural Award winner for The Biggest Estate on Earth
  • 2012 – Prime Minister's Literary Awards, Prize for Australian History for The Biggest Estate on Earth[2][5]
  • 2012 – shortlisted for the Kay Daniels Award[6]
  • 2012 – Queensland Literary Awards, History Book Award[7]
  • 2012 – Victorian Premier's Literary Awards overall Victorian Prize for Literature on top of the non-fiction category prize[8][9]



  • The Broken Years: Australian Soldiers in the Great War. Australia: Penguin. 1974. ISBN 0-85179-699-0.
  • with: Harris, David; Cole, Michael; Piggott, Reg (1976). An Australian in the First World War. New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-21018-6.
  • Man and land: some remarks on European ideas and the Australian environment. Publication no. 64 (booklet). Stirling memorial lecture; (no. 4. Broadcast from Radio 5UV, the University of Adelaide on 13 December 1978). Adelaide, South Australia: Dept. of Continuing Education, University of Adelaide. 1979. ISBN 978-0-85578-017-3.
  • with: Williamson, David (1981). The Story of Gallipoli. Ringwood, Vic: Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-006105-3.
  • with: Markus, Andrew (1982). All that dirt : aborigines 1938. Canberra: History Project, Inc., Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University. ISBN 0-949776-08-4.
  • Narrandera Shire. Narrandera: Bill Gammage for the Narrandera Shire Council. 1986. OCLC 63179965.
  • with: Spearritt, Peter (1987). Australians, 1938. New York: Broadway; Fairfax, Syme & Weldon Associates. ISBN 0-949288-21-7.
  • Headon, David John; Warden, James; Gammage, Bill (1994). Crown or country : the traditions of Australian republicanism. St. Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 1-86373-599-2.
  • The Sky Travellers: Journeys in New Guinea 1938–1939. Melbourne: Melbourne University. 1998. ISBN 0-522-84827-3.
  • Australia under Aboriginal management (booklet). Barry Andrews memorial lecture. 15. Canberra, ACT: School of Humanities and Social Sciences, University College, University of New South Wales, Australian Defence Force Academy – "in association with the Barry Andrews Memorial Trust and the National Library of Australia". 2003. ISBN 978-0-73170-388-3.
  • Gammage, Bill; Ebooks Corporation; Gammage, Bill (2011), The biggest estate on earth : how Aborigines made Australia, Allen & Unwin, ISBN 978-1-74237-748-3

Journal articles[edit]

  • "My Gun, My Brother. the World of the Papua New Guinea Colonial Police 1920–1960 [Book Review]", Oceania, 70 (2): 193–, December 1999, ISSN 0029-8077
  • "'…far more happier than we Europeans': Aborigines and farmers" (PDF). London Papers in Australian Studies (formerly Working Papers in Australian Studies). London: Menzies Centre for Australian Studies. King's College. Each year the Centre publishes London Papers in Australian Studies . These are representative of some of the most recent and exciting intellectual work in Australian Studies (12): 1–27. 2005. ISSN 1746-1774. OCLC: 137333394. Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 February 2014. Retrieved 30 December 2012.

Book chapters[edit]

  • — "Oral and Written Sources." In Oral Tradition in Melanesia. Ed. by Donald Denoon. Port Moresby, New Guinea: University of Papua, New Guinea and Institute of Papua New Guinea Studies. pp. 115–24.
  • — (1994). "Sustainable damage: the environment and the future". In Dovers, Stephen. Australian environmental history: essays and cases. Melbourne; New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 258–267. ISBN 0195534824. Lay summary.
  • — (2006). "Landscapes transformed". In Lake, Marilyn. Memory, monuments and museums: the past in the present. Carlton, Vic.: Melbourne University Press in association with the Australian Academy of the Humanities. pp. 153–165, 270–273. ISBN 9780522852509. Retrieved 2012-11-30. Lay summary.

Other work[edit]

  • "Sir John Monash : a military review" (Melbourne University, 1974)
  • "The story of Gallipoli" / text by Bill Gammage ; screenplay by David Williamson ; preface by Peter Weir. Ringwood, Vic. : Penguin Australia 1981) Released August 1981 as "Gallipoli.", dir. by Peter Weir
  • "The Achievement of the Australian Aborigines", The Australian and New Zealand Studies Project (Text of an Australian and New Zealand Studies Occasional Lecture given at the University of Hawaii at Manoa on Wednesday, 9 December 1992), Occasional paper no.1, Manoa, Honolulu: School of Hawaiian, Asian and Pacific Studies, University of Hawaii, 1992, p. 9


  1. ^ a b HRC webmaster (11 June 2008). "ANU – Fellows – Gammage- HRC". Director, Humanities Research Centre. Archived from the original on 22 April 2014. Retrieved 22 April 2014.
  2. ^ a b c "PM's Award 2012 Shortlist". 30 May 2012. Archived from the original on 27 October 2012.
  3. ^ a b Glen St John Barclay, Caroline Turner (2004). "A history of the first 30 years of the HRC at The Australian National University". Humanities Research Centre, ANU. Archived from the original on 22 June 2007. Retrieved 2 July 2007.
  4. ^ Greg Muller, Michael MacKenzie (11 Oct 2011). "How Aborigines planned and managed Australia". Bush Telegraph. Radio interview audio. (nationwide). Event occurs at 11:40 am (31:30 minutes). Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Radio National. Retrieved 8 July 2012.
  5. ^ a b "Prime Minister's Literary Awards 2012 winners announced". 23 July 2012.
  6. ^ a b The Biggest Estate on Earth, Allen & Unwin
  7. ^ a b Queensland Literary Awards Media Release – Tuesday evening 4 September – Literary Awards winners announced! Archived 23 December 2012 at the Wayback Machine.
  8. ^ a b Victorian Premier's Literary Awards 2012 (The Wheeler Centre/ Books, Writing, Ideas)
  9. ^ a b Aboriginal fire sparks winning book The Age (newspaper, Melbourne)
  10. ^ "Australia in World War One By Dr Peter Stanley". 1 March 2002.
  11. ^ "Murdock University film database". 30 June 2007. Archived from the original on 28 February 2009.
  12. ^ "History of the Narrandera Shire". 16 May 2005. Archived from the original on 21 August 2006.
  13. ^ "Queensland Premier's Literary Awards". 2006. Archived from the original on 13 August 2007.
  14. ^ "Member of the Order of Australia nomination". 13 June 2005.

External links[edit]