A book showing an extraordinarily complex system of land management by Indigenous Australians before European arrival is the 2012 ACT Book of the Year.

Canberra historian Bill Gammage, author of The Biggest Estate on Earth: How Aborigines made Australia, studied written and visual records of the Australian landscape for over a decade, uncovering complex land management that used fire and plant life cycles to help boost wildlife populations and food supply.

The book helped prove Australia was managed in a much more systematic and scientific fashion than previously realised.

Professor Gammage's book bested 26 other nominations to receive the prize, valued at $10,000. The book's successes include prizes in the Prime Minister's Literary Awards, the Victorian Premier's Literary Awards, and the Queensland Literary Awards.