Believed to be the oldest population of humans living outside of Africa, Australia’s first people, known as Aboriginal Australians, have forged a vibrant culture filled with unique languages, stories, art and music. Despite dating back over 50, 000 years, Australian Aboriginal culture can still be experienced today. From the big gateway cities like Sydney, to the pulsing beat of the Red Centre, Australian Aboriginal culture is everywhere; and there are many indigenous elders waiting to tell their stories and share the meaning behind their culture and way of life.
Who are Australia’s Indigenous People?
Australian Aboriginals are split into two groups; Aboriginal people, who are related to those who already inhabited the land when Britain colonized Australia in 1788; and the Torres Strait Islander people, who come from the islands of the Torres Strait, which is between the tip of Cape York in QLD and Papaua New Guinea.
At current, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people make up for less than four percent of Australia’s population, so an interaction with Australia’s First Peoples is not always a given for visitors.
What is Dreamtime?
Over millennia, Aboriginal Australians have developed a belief system that incorporates the land, spirituality, culture and care for the country. This is known as ‘Dreamtime’. However, it is important to note that the English word for ‘Dreamtime’ doesn’t wholly capture the true meaning of this Aboriginal belief system. Different Aboriginal groups also have their own words, in their own languages, for Dreamtime.
While the meaning and stories for ‘Dreamtime’ vary between different Aboriginal groups, it can be broadly understood as the time when spiritual ancestors created the world and all that exists.
It is also important to note, that similar to other Indigenous cultures around the world, Aboriginal Australians view time as non-linear. While there is a practical understanding of time in relation to daily cycles and seasons, an additional dimension of time exists within Aboriginal culture that is integral to the spirit world and understanding that everything is interconnected.
What Role Does Storytelling Play in Art and Culture?
While the beautiful, contemporary art of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples captures the attention of people worldwide, there is so much more to this art to see and learn.
Traditional Indigenous art practitioners don’t view themselves as artists, but rather, as storytellers. Traditionally, art was displayed on rocks, sand, bodies, bark, wood and weaving, over the past 50 years, western acrylics, canvases and other mediums such as lino, fabric, jewellery and glass making have also been introduced.
Music and dance also play a huge part in Indigenous culture. The didgeridoo and clapping sticks are two instantly recognizable instruments in Aboriginal music. Traditional dance performances can be seen at festivals and to mark important anniversaries.
What is Bush Tucker?
By closely observing nature and knowing when certain flowers bloom, fruits ripen and animals fatten, Aboriginal Australians have learned to survive off the land for tens of thousands of years. This wisdom has been handed down over the generations and has allowed for Aboriginal Australians to sustain for over 50, 000 years.
If you’re interested in embarking on an Aboriginal Australian guided tour, be sure to check out the new range of Cosmos Australia tours, that include guided tours with local Indigenous peoples.