The Aboriginal People

For anyone visiting Australia you very soon begin to discover the very significant place that the Aboriginal people have in this country’s history, art, culture, geography and on going life of the country. I’m no historian but it’s not difficult to see how the colonisation by other countries, especially the British, did so much harm to the indigenous tribes – not unlike the treatment of the North American Indians.

In a shop that was selling Aboriginal art work I found this poster, it’s a map showing how Australia used to be divided up and populated by over 500 different tribes. Today there are less than 200 still represented in this country.

On the way back from Blue Mountains I called in at the Blue Mountains Botanical Gardens, There was a whole area dedicated to showing how the Aboriginal people knew so much about the trees and plants and how they put them to so many uses, not just for food but for medicine, construction and even clothing.

Most of the national parks contain places of significance to the Aboriginals. These could be mounds, mountains, trees, river beds to mention a few. One popular example is Ayers Rock which most of us have heard of. We visited a lovely place called Wipena Pound, a circular ring of peaks which are probably the remains of an extinct volcano. we did a great 16km hike though the bush up to one of the high peaks.

The following pictures are aerial shots from postcards and give you the big picture of the area. The colours of the rock and vegetation are beautiful especially at sunset and sunrise.

If you spend any time in the outback you soon realise how important water is – there isn’t much of it. All around you find dry creek beds but also evidence that when it does rain, it can be sudden and torrential. I met someone who camped by a dry river bed one week and the next week after a lot of rain, he couldn’t sleep for roar of the water that had filled the creek.

Scattered round the outback, but close to where people would go hiking, off road driving or biking, you find rainwater collecting shelters from which you can fill up your water containers. A corrugated roof provides shelter from the sun and the water off the roof runs into a gutter and then into a large storage drum with a tap.

We found that on an all day walk in the sun you could easily drink 2 litres or more if you were going to stay hydrated.

As we asked though the area we found evidence of the first British settlers who had tried to farm the land and rise sheep and cattle. It was clear that adequate supply of water was a major challenge and many gave up after droughts which killed most of their livestock.

Continuing on the theme of water, the Aboriginals were skilled at finding water and would ‘engrave’ rocks to show others where the water could be found. The symbol for water is a circle and we found some engravings in a gully that we walked up. It had rained the night before but everything seems to have dried up by the morning until we saw these engravings and just round the corner we found a small pool in the bottom of a steep sided rock gully. Other engravings mean shelter.

In that same area we found some amazing Eucalyptus trees that would have been at least 500yrs old and certain trees would have been a great significance to the Aboriginal people. Spot the tourist in the tree 😊

Finally, if you have ever watched survival programmes with people like Bear Grylls you will see people eating certain grubs and insects. here is a popular one. I never got to taste one – can’t say I’m sorry 😊

This was just a small glimpse into Aboriginal life, environment and culture. It would have been nice to learn more.

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