The origins of Australia rests with its original people, the Aboriginals, who have roamed this land for over 40,000 years continuing a culture that is both prehistoric and rich in heritage. A campaign for constitutional recognition is being headed by many around Australia however knowledge and awareness of ongoing issues by the general public continues to be a hindrance. We’ve compiled a number of interesting facts about Australian Aboriginals to highlight their fascinating culture over time to help you become engaged with the Australia’s first people.
Aboriginal spirituality is based on a strong relationship with the land. Aboriginals believed that in the ‘Dreamtime’ or beginning of the world that their ancestors rose from beneath the Earth to form animal species, bodies of water and the sky. They do not place the human species as separate from or on a higher level than nature.
Aboriginals do not have a written language and instead transferred knowledge orally through stories and other forms of culture such as dance, artwork and music using instruments like the didgeridoo. The Didgeridoo is used at formal occasions such as sunsets, circumcisions and funerals.
Although other cultures may have changed and adapted stories over time, Aboriginals have continued to tell traditional stories including those about the Dreamtime for over 50,000 years virtually unchanged.
Before the arrival of European colonialists in 1788, there were approximately 200-250 Aboriginal languages spoken in Australia. These are fast dying out with all but 20 of the remaining languages considered to be endangered.
Many common Aboriginal terms have now become a part of the English language including: Koala, dingo, kangaroo, barramundi, wallaby, wombat and many other place names such as Uluru.
Traditionally, paintings have been made on rock walls, body paint or on sand and dirt accompanied by a story or song. However, canvas painting began in the 1970s which added a permanency to their work. Due to this permanency of their art, there was added concern that sacred and private indigenous knowledge would be understood by prying eyes and the practice of ‘overdotting’ began to obscure these areas of the artwork.
Instead of bows and arrows, the Aboriginals hunted with boomerangs. The boomerang was often thrown into a flock of birds while hunting and it yes, it does return to the thrower if done correctly. They could also be used as a work of art.