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Australia

Aboriginal culture

You cannot go on a trip to Australia without taking some interest in aboriginal culture.

The Dreamtime

The presence of Aborigines on Australian soil dates to approximately 50 million years ago. When the British arrived there were around 500 000 Aborigines living in this huge country.

For an introduction to this highly complex culture, it is particularly important to understand the concept of Dreamtime, which underlies their beliefs.

Before setting out on your trip to Australia, you should know that the basic principle of the Aborigines is to live in close relationship, symbiosis even, with nature. All their beliefs are gathered under the concept of the Dreamtime which encompasses the concepts of past, present, future, of the material and the intangible. All these beliefs are recounted by the oral tradition which is often expressed in song and dance.

Totemism also takes a prominent place in the Dreamtime. This concept is also difficult to understand. To simplify, each person has an animal or a plant as a totem and are thus bound by a whole series of taboos and obligations. It is for this reason that the Aborigines have a deep respect for nature as a whole, from animals to plants to the slightest small pebble.

According to the Aborigines, the world was originally a simple mass with no form until Warramurrungundji came out of the sea to give birth to man. She is the main spirit of the Dreamtime and was quickly joined by Ginga the crocodile, Gandajitj the kangaroo and Almudj the rainbow snake. After creating the world, the spirits appeared to the Aborigines to show them the sacred sites. The Dreamtime was born.

Aboriginal site

Today

In our days the place of Aborigines in Australian society is not very enviable. As you wander through the streets of Alice Springs you will realise that the community is very strongly affected by unemployment and alcoholism. Their life expectancy is 20 years less than that of whites.

Frequently expropriated, only a few cowboys of the community have fine herds and economic power equivalent to that of whites. The others often live precariously and some prefer to escape the misery of cities to return to their traditional lands bush, on .

Life in the Outback is not more comfortable than in town, but at least they are closer to their ideal of life and their traditional and ancestral Dreamtime.

David Debrincat
459 contributions
Updated 6 November 2015

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