• The Aborigines are the original inhabitants
of the Australian continent and nearby
islands and the descendants of these
peoples. Indigenous Australians are
distinguished as either Aboriginal or Torres
Strait Islanders, who currently together
make up about 2.7% of Australia's
population. The term "Aboriginal" has
tradicionally been applied to indigenous
habitants of mainland Australia,
Tasmania, and some of the other islands.
• Australian Aboriginal culture is one of the world's longest
surviving cultures which, if one accepts the most recent
dating of occupational remains at the Malakunanya II
shelter, started at least 50,000 years ago. Amongst the
cultural items recovered from the site's lowest levels there
were used pieces of haematite which had been used in
the preparation of paint, as well as yellow and red ochre.
This period ended with the rise of the sea following the last
Ice Age and the development of an estuarine
environment 8000 years ago.
• All of Australia's Aborigines were semi-nomadic hunters
and gatherers, with each clan having its own territory.
Those communities living along the coast or rivers were
expert fishermen. The territories or 'traditional lands' were
defined by geographic boundaries such as rivers, lakes
and mountains. All Australian Aborigines shared an
intimate understanding of, and relationship with, the land.
That relationship was the basis of their spiritual life and
shaped the Aboriginal culture. Land is fundamental to the
well-being of all Aboriginal people.
• The Aborigonal religion is based heavily on the
Dreaming. The Dreaming is the Aboriginal
creation story. Aborigines believe that at the
beginning of time the world was a shapless mass
of nothing, waiting to be transformed into what
we see today. The mythological beings called the
ancestors arrived, the ancestors took many
shapes, although most commonly they were
great serpents. The ancestors began to travel
across the world shaping the landscape and
creating new life as they went. Every major
geographical feature in Australia has an
aboriginal story to explain it.
The expression 'Dreamtime' refers to the 'time before time', or 'the time of
the creation of all things', while 'Dreaming' is often used to refer to an
individual's or group's set of beliefs or spirituality. For example, an
Indigenous Australian might talk about their Kangaroo Dreaming, Snake
Dreaming, or Honey Ant Dreaming, or any combination of Dreamings
pertinent to their 'land'. However, many Indigenous Aborigines also refer to
the creation time as 'The Dreaming'. For Indigenous Australians, the past is
still fervently alive in the present moment and will remain so into the future.
The Ancestor Spirits and their powers have not gone, they are present in
the forms into which they changed at the end of the 'Dreamtime' or
'Dreaming', as the stories tell. The stories have been handed down through
the ages and are an integral part of an Indigenous person's 'Dreaming'.
The Aboriginal people often observed that early settlers
were naked. The men and women of some tribes are
known to have worn a belt around their waist made of
hair, animal fur, skin or fiber which they used to carry tools
The belts often had a flap at the front. However, this was a
modification that was added during European
colonization, when the British colonists and authorities
were concerned about modesty and imposed their
standards on the Aborigines.
• The Aborigens practised the hunting, gathering
• Hunting is a word that is used to identify the
practice of catching and killing 'game' either as
a sport or as a source of food. Gathering is the
collecting of food such as plants, berries, eggs or
insects. Fishing is another method of obtaining
• The Aborigines who lived in areas which included
waterways such as rivers or were on the
seacoast, made canoes from bark or tree trunks.
• Aboriginal people were social beings as they
lived and gathered together in family groups .
Their camps consisted of a number of gunyas
(bark huts), but the people also lived in caves or
in the open air. Some camps consisted of as few
as 6 to 10 people while in others there were up
to 400 people. No doubt the availability of food
was a factor in the size of a camp. Each day,
various members of the group would leave the
camp to hunt and gather food and return to the
camp to share the catch with others.