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Australian Aboriginal Dreamtime and Culture

Updated on February 11, 2015

Australian Aboriginal - Circular Quay, Sydney

Australian Aboriginal playing the digeridoo at Circular Quay in Sydney
Australian Aboriginal playing the digeridoo at Circular Quay in Sydney

Australian Aboriginal Culture

Australian Aboriginal cultural is widely recognised as the oldest surviving culture in the world dating back over 60,000 years. Sadly since the arrival of Europeans the Aboriginal culture has largely been suppressed.

In recent times the depth of the culture has been recognised and there has been a strong resurgence of interest by the general community. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in no small part contributed to reconciliation by way of his 'Sorry' speech (see below).

Being an island continent Australia was largely cut off from other countries and as a result Aboriginal people developed independently and uniquely from other cultures.

The intricate culture of Australian Aboriginal people includes the longest continual religion in the world. We have come to understand through Ancient rock art at various locations around Australia how many cultural customs originate from spiritual ceremonies.

The Ancestral Beings (Aboriginal deities or gods) depicted in rock art has held great important in Aboriginal religion over the past tens of thousands of years, and is as important now as it was then.

There is a 'Protecting Australia's Spirit' campaign relating to the preservation of ancient Aboriginal rock art, led by Professor Paul S.C. Tacon. You can read more about it here:

Origins Of Man

Do you think Australian Aboriginal people where the first inhabitants on earth?

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Aboriginal Dreamtime

Today, as in the past, Aboriginal dreamtime stories provide a way of giving meaning to human life and explain in detail, how certain aspects such as the landscape originally came about. Indigenous Australians hand down Dreamtime stories from generation to generation by story telling and believe each Dreamtime story is a link to their origins.

Dreamtime stories are also a way to trace aboriginal family groups’ ancestors and spirit beings and are closely related to their environment, especially the land. This close relationship with the land is often described by many different tribes of Aboriginal people as ‘Mother’.

The spirit beings that created the landscape are also believed to be involved in the creation of new life, so that when a new baby is born the direct link to ancestral beings continue throughout life that persons life and so on as they themselves later have children of their own.

Ancestral beings hold a high status and are honoured in Aboriginal communities for their detailed understanding of the rules that a person must follow for living a respectful life; for the knowledge and ability to treat others in a respectful manner; for the management of the land and natural environment; and importantly for all spiritual ceremonies.

Ancestral beings are known to be located within the native Australian animals, local plant species, the natural landscape such as creeks and rivers, mountains and gorges. The prolific number and nature of Dreamtime and Creation stories provide proof that Aboriginal people have always been the original inhabitants of Australia.

Fast Facts:

  • Charcoal remains were found dating back 100,000 years.
  • The oldest known human remains were found in Australia in Lake Mungo in South Australia.
  • Unfortunately due to the arrival of Europeans much of the evidence has been destroyed.

Ancient Rock Art - Kakadu Country Northern Territory


Origins of Man

Were Australian Aboriginal people the first people to inhabit the earth? Some would say YES. A theory was put forward in 1996 which described how humans in fact migrated around the world to other countries from Australia.

The origins of man, Aboriginal Culture, The Dreamtime and Creation stories, are all fascinating topics to ponder under this new theory. No doubt in the future, as we develop more advanced methods of research, more of our ancient Australian heritage will be revealed.

Aboriginal Australians have done well to survive the coming of Europeans and being thrust into the modern world in such a relatively short space of time. It has not been an easy transition given the poor treatment of Aboriginals by white Australians up until the early 1970’s.

Retaining the Aboriginal Culture is imperative and enriching to the future of all Australians. The culture is unique to Australia and will be celebrated at the upcoming Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in 2018.

Kevin Rudds Sorry Speech


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    • aboutaustralia profile image

      aboutaustralia 5 years ago from Newcastle, New South Wales

      Hi Mura Mura Art, thank you very much for stopping by. Your comment means a lot to me. My granddaughter is Aboriginal and my passion is to bring as much Aboriginal culture into her life as I can, so that she grows up to be proud of her rich and valuable cultural heritage. In many ways this hub was for her. Sharon

    • Mura Mura Art profile image

      Mura Mura Art 5 years ago

      The Dreamtime concept can be confusing but you've been able to explain it in the simplest of terms. Thanks for a great hub!

    • aboutaustralia profile image

      aboutaustralia 6 years ago from Newcastle, New South Wales

      Thanks for stopping by Kellymom I appreciate your comment, Beata I see you are from Karijini WA, have you been lucky enough to see any rock art in the National Park?

    • Beata Stasak profile image

      Beata Stasak 6 years ago from Western Australia

      Happy to be back home:)

    • kellymom1970 profile image

      kellymom1970 6 years ago

      Very good! I never knew that. Thanks


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