ABORIGINAL AUSTRALIANS -THE STORY BEHIND
“Traveler, there are no paths. Paths are made by walking”
-Aboriginal Australian proverb
Have you ever visited Australia ? It is one of the most important goals on my own Bucket List. It means the whole new world for me to meet the land of amazing aboriginal culture, perfect landscape, urban cities and life, mixed with remote places full of indigenous mysticism. Once when you are in Australian continent, you dare to believe that life is just to start, discovering us the new and exciting corners of our precious Planet.
It is written that Australia is a land of contrasts. Many people think only about white beaches and attractive clubs but have you known that Australian mountain complex or Australian Alps ( New South Wales and Victoria) get more snow than Swiss Alps? This is really odd since 90% of Australians live on the coast but ski season is one of the strong touristic offers of this country. If you are not sure what else is so authentic about Australia, don’t forget the fact that Tasmania has the cleanest air in the world and it is known to be paradise for mountain bikers, walkers and outdoors lovers. Not only that, The Great Barrier Reef is the marine and ecological pearl of Australia and Australians. According to the scientists, it is the largest eco-system in the world, that consists of 2,500 individual reefs, visible even from space.
After all those information, I see you already ready to go in the direction of sunshine and Uluru vibes. However, would like to motivate you with the 60 separate wine regions in Australia and the best are located in Southern Highlands, Tumbarumba and Alpine Valleys. If you are stuck there, be happy and try different types of Australian wines. For the sand lovers, there is the Fraser Island, the sand heaven and hint for all visitors of the Queensland. For all real travellers, there is The Great Ocean Road for seeing the land from its core, enjoying all those mesmerising pictures. Not to forget, 80% of all Australian animals are so specific and only unique for its continent. Wildlife lovers, attention, you wont regret but just be careful, because some of them are also the deadliest in the world. The historical site of Uluru is something you cant miss, once you are there.
The list of attractive attributes of Australia is never ending. It could go on and on but behind that tourist portfolio is one really touching tale about indigenous Australians that make the complete portray simply unforgettable and timeless. Who are those people ? Earlier, I thought that Aboriginal are those local or indigenous people that live only in Australia but actually, if you say “aboriginal” you can use it for any indigenous group of people, anywhere in the big world. In this case, we will use the phrase “Indigenous Australians ” that will refer to the oldest group of people, outside Africa. It is estimated, that they have lived in Australia for at least 50,000 years:“The oldest remains of aborigines in Australia are those of Mungo Lady and Mungo Man LMS, dating back 50,000 years. Researchers continue to debate the timeline of the first aborigines in Australia, ranging from 125,000 to 52,000 years ago. There are many similarities and many differences among aborigine cultures in Australia. When the Europeans began to settle in Australia there were more than 250 aborigine languages. This has decreased to as few as 120 still in use and only 13 that are not endangered of disappearing completely. Just as in other parts of the world, explorers and settlers to Australia greatly affected the way of life of the aborigines through disease and attempts to change their way of life.”
Some anthropologists believe that humans migrated to Australia, from Asia, with primitive boats, long time ago while other state that those first Australians come from Africa. Nevertheless, the scary history of those people has been born with British colonisation in 1788, when many of them have been conquered in the battle for their land, against British settlers. There have been so many people that lost their property and lives and this painful chapter is also the black chapter in modern Australian history and National Geographic even writes about the stolen generations: “Between 1910 and 1970, government policies of assimilation led to between 10 and 33 percent of Aboriginal Australian children being forcibly removed from their homes. These
Stolen Generations were put in adoptive families and institutions and forbidden from speaking their native languages. Their names were often changed.“
Since 2008, when Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd issued a National Apology for the country’s actions towards Aboriginal Australians and Stolen Generations, it seems that Australia is working progressively on this issue and trying to implement their rights and freedoms. It is simply shocking to know that some indigenous Australians didn’t have full citizenship or voting rights until 1965.
Only 3% of Australians have those indigenous roots but to be loyal to the ancient culture, in the age of constant pressure from all side, is a real challenge. The Aboriginal heritage is very interesting and rich, especially if we check on their philosophy and art. What I find attractive to me is the concept of Dreaming, the Aboriginal way of merging past, present and future in once moment, everywhere. This philosophy is in every single creature and the collective cultural tradition is transmitted from one to another, through the tales, songs and memories. The Rainbow Serpent is that creative God in Aboriginal Mythology that made a foundation to the whole culture. Not to mention the big role of music and rock craving art in the Aboriginal society.
The flag of indigenous Australians is also worth of analysing because I think that even many Australians have really no idea what those colours mean. The flag combination has been created in 1970s, during land movement. The black represents Aboriginal people of Australia. The red is there to show the sacred and spiritual relations of people with red land of the continent. The yellow is showing us that the sun is a giver of life and joy.
There are about 400 Aboriginal words in urban Australian English and one of them, that are even famous to us, are kangaroo, koala, wallaby, dingo and wombat. The urban cultures might takes all under itself but there are powerful elements of authentic heritage and local resistance that will never be vacuumed by modern world. They will be always there to stand proud and provoke the centuries of cultural blossom in the shadow of the colonisation .
I believe that with Dreaming, I may reach the harmony with the Rainbow Serpent and red land of those amazing people.
Australia, love you and cant wait to see you.
2 thoughts on “INDIGENOUS AUSTRALIANS: THE ANCIENT ABORIGINAL CULTURE”
What an amazing article, Sarah !
Aborigines, on all conquered continents, were so badly treated, and are still not treat fairly to this day. As an empathetic and compassionate human being, I’ve always felt the pain and suffering aborigines have been through over the years. It’s time they were treated with love and respect.
On a different note, that part you mentioned about coral reefs and the ecology reminded me of how, were I to go back in time, I would have loved to become a Marine Biologist: Maybe in the next life !
Thank you, Sarah, for enlightening us with your precious articles.
Sarah’s elucidating and delightful article reminded me of the difference in concepts of terrestrial regions between Europeans and indigenous peoples of The Antipodes…
The indigenous peoples of the island continent known as ‘Australia’ do not formally-recognise the appellation within their own respective cultures: as citizens, they are obliged to, but as tribal members, they uphold their people’s spiritual name of the land mass.
The English navigator and cartographer Captain Matthew Flinders (1774-1814) proposed the appellation of Australia from the ancient concept of ‘Terra Australis’ (i.e. Southern Land, which included Antarctica), in 1804; becoming the official British geographical name in 1817.
Mistakenly, the Dutch cartographer Daniel Djurberg thought the Maoris of New Zealand were natives of all The Antipodes, and called Australia ‘Ulimaroa’ (i.e. a Maori word meaning ‘long land’).
In the 1700s, the various indigenous tribes of the island continent had their own names for the land mass. They did not possess European concepts like ‘ownership’, ‘continent’ and ‘mass natural resource’. There were over 200 distinctive indigenous languages in the 1700s, and individual tribes would just refer to land as earth (i.e. soil, topography); such as ‘uthuru’ of the peoples of the western regions of the island continent.
The regional tribal name for The Rainbow Serpent (i.e. creation myth of indigenous Australians) is ‘Yurlunggur’ in Arnhem (i.e. northern area of the island continent), and this is the region where the Antipodeans first arrived from South Asia, c. 100,000 years ago.
So, this is the actual appellation of the island continent for the native peoples, ostensibly.