Aboriginal Culture & Dreamtime Down Under

Aboriginal Culture Uluru or Ayers Rock

Aboriginal refers to all indigenous peoples, but while talking about Aboriginal Culture here, we'll specifically be referring to the Aborigines of Australia and the Torres Strait Islands.


The earliest Aboriginal remains found to date (see Mungo Man & Mungo Lady) appear to be about 40,000 years old, though some scientists believe the Australian continent was settled much earlier than that.

Currently, the Aborigines speak about 200 different languages with more dialects further complicating the issue, as the cultures vary by tribe and within communities.

Dreamtime & The Dreaming of the World

You've probably heard of Ayers Rock, or maybe seen pictures. It's one of the most iconic images representing Australia. But did you know that it is also one of the most sacred sites of Aboriginal Culture?

Ancient Aboriginal Art

A warren of caves inside Ayers Rock are decorated with Aboriginal art covering centuries of creative endeavors that some refer to as "dot art." That's because these images symbolize the sacred ancestors of the Aborigines.

Dreamtimes partly refer to the times when the universe was created. Most Aboriginal tradition say the ancestors roamed the earth in human forms and they dreamed the creation of all things, whether rock, tree, animal or human.

During the Dreamtime, they also created the laws the Aborigines still follow to this day. They cannot change the laws, as they did not create them.

But there is another important aspect to The Dreaming, and that is that it still happens today. Even though, according to tradition, the ancestor spirits created the world and all of its animate and inanimate objects, the ancestors let go of their human forms and became the very entities they created. They became the stars, the trees, the geckos, serpents and humans.

But it is not this magical time of creation and transformation in Aboriginal culture that the indigenous people hold most sacred — the most sacred time is now.

Aborginal Culture in Space and Time is a Space Within

Aboriginal Culture Thrives in the Outback

Talk about living in the moment, the Aborigines may have the best handle on this concept. There is no past, present or future, and there is no value in a Western concept of eternal life.

In Aboriginal culture, there is only constant Dreaming of the things and laws created. There are no social, political, class or religious labels for people. There is only a sense of place.

When the ancestral spirits became the rocks, the waterholes or the kangaroos and crocodiles, they became those things in specific places. And if you were born into that locale, you were a Dreamtime creation of that place, with rights and responsibilities from and for that place.

Have You Heard?

Aboriginal Culture and the Didgeradoo

    Aboriginal Music - The musical culture of the Aboriginals comprises rock, folk, country and even reggae. Mostly, it's a rich fusion of styles and some bands have enjoyed mainstream recognition. You'll find protest songs and dance music and almost all of it has a message.

    Didgeridoo - The didge is a musical wind instrument made from tree limbs hollowed out by termites.

    Music Production - Many Aboriginal bands carry an international following, but some bands form primarily to promote community and cultural development.

Click here to go back to the World Culture page.

Or, continue your cultural explorations by visiting our Ancient Chinese Culture page.




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