Aboriginal Australia is something you should try to incorporate into your trip.
The word aborigine or aboriginal means Indigenous to Australia. They were the original inhabiters of Australia before the island was discovered and occupied by the British and other Europeans.
When visiting Australia, you can gain glimpses of their old traditions and ways of life. But first, take a little time to understand them....
It's difficult to say when exactly the first aborigine settler can be traced back to but some experts believe it could be as many as 50,000 years ago.
Pre 1788 when the European settlement started, the aboriginal Australia population was probably around 315,000. They were semi-nomadic hunter gatherers. That meant that they moved around a little bit to ensure they got enough food, but they lived off the land.
There were 250 different nations each with their own customs, language and clans. So, there were over 200 languages, many of which are extinct today. These nations were spread right across Australia but the east and southern regions were the most densely populated.
With the European settlers came old world diseases that the aborigines could not survive. This wiped out many of their population. On top of that, laws gave them no claim to the land and as the European settlers grew, the aborgines were pushed out.
The stolen generations refers to aboriginal Australia children who were removed from their homes by the Australian state government from 1869 to 1969 - although it is believed that this may have continued into the 1970's. The prime minister Kevin Rudd, offered an official apology in 2008.
These days, the aboriginals account for just 3% of the Australian population and are more likely to suffer with alcohol problems and have poor health.
Has this inspired you to find your own roots? Understand where you come from? If so, why not start tracing your own family history.
Aboriginals have a belief system known as the dreamtime or dreaming. They believe that there are two parallel streams of activity. One is the day to day activities , the other is the "dreamtime", and is very spiritual.
Whatever happens in this dreamtime establishes the values, symbols, and laws of their society. This is how stories and ancient beliefs have developed about plants, animals and places. As such there are certain places that are very sacred to their people. Ayers Rock for example is one such place. PLEASE don't climb the rock out of respect for their customs.
Music and Art remain two of the most well known aspects to the aborigine culture. Whilst the didgeridoo is probably the most well known, this instrument only really originates from the Eastern part of Australia. The clapping sticks, which help keep the rhythm, are more widely used.
Aboriginal Australia art can be seen in its oldest form as rock art. These are pictures made using ochre and depict scenes from the dreamtime. You can see these all over Australia, especially around Ayers Rock and
Now the tradition is continued through more contemporary art pieces using modern materials. The dot pantings are still one of the most popular souvenirs for tourists to take home with them.
Where to go to experience Aboriginal Australia
You can generally find aborigine tours throughout Australia but the best areas to go are:
Ayers Rock A very spiritual place - and I'm really not a spiritual person but I was touched!
Arnhem land near Kakadu and Darwin is probably one of the only places left in Australia where you can see the real culture. Go soon before it becomes over run with tourists.
Kakadu National Park (near Darwin) has some of the best rock art in Australia and some of the best aboriginal Australia tours
. is another excellent place for rock art and spiritual places.
Any Australian place where you are at one with nature generally gives you a good aborigine experience. The walks in Tasmania are particularly good for that.
Head to the border of South Australia and the Northern Terriory and the Angatja Bush College and become a Anangu guide's student. You'll get to take part in a hunt, dance, cook and eat bush tucker and camp overnight.
Visit Mungo National Park near Mildura (550km NW of Melbourne or 420km NE of Adelaide) and visit the Walls of China dunes that are over 60,000 years old. Take a tour and discover the home of Mungo Man, one of the oldest bodies ever found.
If you want to incorporate some aborigine experience into the more visited areas, try
www.bluemountainswalkabout.com as part of your trip to Sydney
or the rocks half day dreaming tour taken by Margaret Campbell, an elder.
The Koorie Heritage Trust
in Melbourne's centre has a good exhibition on the culture of the southeastern indigenous people.
Similarly, when it comes to buying some art to take home with you, heading to the source is better - Darwin and Arnhem Land and the Kimberles would be my pick. But you can buy it all over Australia. Broome has some good stores and weren't as expensive as Sydney or Melbourne. Why not buy on line and save the hassle of carrying it back with you. Click here for
Want to keep up to date and receive great travel tips? Then subscribe to our monthly newsletter. Just fill in your details below.