The Aborigin e s 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, wait i ng to be transformed into what we see today. The my thological beings called the ancestors arrived, the ancestors took many shapes, although most commonly they were great serp e nts. The ancestors began to travel across the world shaping the landscape and creating new life as they went. Every major geographical feature in A ustralia has an aboriginal story to explain it.
THE DREAMTIME 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 ferv e ntly 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 and weapons.
The belts often had a flap at the front . H owever, 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 and fishing:
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 food.
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.