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Aboriginal Culture of Australia

Didgeridoos photo

It is believed that the Aboriginal people of Australia arrived on the Australian continent as far back as 65,000 years ago. With just over 200 years of European migration, modern Australia is but a blip on the radar in this ancient land.

The indigenous cultures of Australia are the most ancient surviving cultures in the world. This is partly attributed to the original inhabitants ability to adapt and change to Australia's harsh conditions, coupled with the continents isolation which became a barrier for migration or invasion from outside cultures. Aboriginal culture and its ancient knowledge has been preserved through rituals, art, and music for thousands of years.

Aboriginal tradition and values are based upon a concept called 'Dreamtime' which is closely linked with the land. Dreaming and Dreamtime stories speak of ancient times and creation to the present day. The Dreaming is rooted in a time when the land was inhabited by heroic ancestral figures with supernatural abilities who were distinct from gods, but nevertheless were still revered. Dreatime is an indigenous word meaning "eternal" or "uncreated".

Aboriginal culture has permeated Australian culture as a whole and to some extent has been commercialised in mainstream Australian culture. Objects from Aboriginal culture that are widely recognised around the world include the Boomerang - a wooden cresent shaped object which was originally used in hunting. The didgeridoo is considered the oldest woodwind musical instrument. It produces a unique humming sound which is often used as background music when depicting Australia in film. Aboriginal art is also popular. This form of art often decorates boomerangs, didgeridoo, and other objects and is popular as wall art. With its earthern colours and unusual abstract patterns, they are hung in art galleries and homes throughout Australia.

There are a number of ancient Aboriginal art sites scattered throughout the country. Some of these sites are considered the oldest art sites in the world with some dating as far back as 40,000 years. Some sites are said to depict ancient extinct animals such as the Genyornis - an ancient large and flightless bird and the Thylacoleo - an ancient carnivorous marsupial.


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Author & photographer: David Johnson (Virtual Oceania)

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