THE FIRST AUSTRALIANS
Click to see picture
Examples of ancient Aboriginal rock art with overlays,
painted by different generations over hundreds and thousands
Mt Borrodaile, Arnhem Land - Northern Territory.
Australia PL used by permission
Click to see a picture of a Aboriginal black spear
to 1788, Aborigines occupied all of mainland Australia and most of the
inhabitable islands near the coast, including Tasmania.
'Aborigines' means the original inhabitants
of a country.
Australian Aborigines use the names applicable
to their own language and kinshipgroups for example, Yanyuwa (northern
Australia) Pitjantjatjara, Luritje, Arrente ( central Australia). They
may also use a general term like Koori, Anangu (central Australia)
or Palawa (Tasmania). Torres Strait Islanders use the name of their island
community to describe themselves, for example, Badu, Murray, Yam, Boigu.
Australian Aboriginals have occupied the
land for so long that they have had to adapt to dramatic changes in the
environment caused by continental drift and glaciation. Their ancient lore
contains references to the shaping of the now volcanically quiet
continent by violent eruptions and lava flows, extinct giant fauna, vanished
inland seas and a warmer wetter climate. Wooden tools rarely survive in
the earth, but we know from one unique archaeological find that the boomerang
(and the barbed spear) was invented more than 10,000 years ago.
Rock art shows changes in wooden tools and
such other perishable items as headdresses. Around 5,000 years ago there
was even a radical change in the stone tools themselves, with small, delicately
worked points and blades beginning to be produced.
Throughout the ancient history of the Aboriginal
people there were many changes more important than technological ones.
Burial practices and different styles of rock art appeared in different
regions and changed from the stylised ancient engravings to the colourful
X-ray art of the north and the vivid hunting scenes of east and west. The
strangely elongated shape of the Emu sky figure can be seen in some rock
Reading and References
Encyclopedia of Australia
1996. Published by Webster Publishing, 1995.