Around 40,000 years ago, Aboriginal communities across Sahul – Australia, New Guinea, Tasmania and what are now many smaller islands – used fire to create open and mainly grassy ecosystems.
They exterminated megafauna in the process by eliminating their browse. The most durable culture in the world subsequently relied on mild burning to sustain their various economies and ecosystems.
Aborigines survived hugely rising sea levels that made our land the largest island and smallest continent, as well as volcanic upheavals that further transformed the physical landscape. Dramatic climate change didn’t affect their ability to manage fire regimes, except in north Queensland, where it became too wet to burn the landscape.