2020Royal Commission into wildfires take note

9 June 2020

The Aborigines also modify the environment for the use of fire,  which they could light in about 60 seconds by ingeniously contriving the friction of wood according to Curr who saw them do this. Burning the grasses encouraged edible bracken ferns and helped to regenerate the grass creating the lightly timbered plains which attracted the kangaroo and other light nibblers and late and later on the white pastoralists. As Thomas Mitchell (NSW Surveyor-General) wrote about Queensland in 1831 a passage which applies just as well to Port Phillip 

Fire, grass, kangaroos and human inhabitants seem all dependent on each other … Fire is necessary to burn the grass and form those open forests in which we find the large forest-kangaroo, the native applies the fire to the grass …  in order that a young green crop may subsequently spring up, and so attract the kangaroo and enable him to … take it with nets. In summer the burning of the long grass also discloses vermin birds nests etc for which the females and children who chiefly burn the grass feed. But for this simple process, Australian would have probably contained as thick a jungle as those of New Zealand or America ….

Source 1831 Major Thomas Mitchell – First Expedition to Queensland (Journals, Expeditions into Eastern Australia)