A trip to Australia isn’t just a visit to the land down under: it’s the modern home of an ancient people; the oldest living culture on Earth, in fact. Multi-faceted and imbued with ancient wisdom, Australia’s Aboriginal people are warm, welcoming and extremely generous of spirit; getting to know their approach to life may well be one of the richest travel experiences available.
Australia is often thought of as a young country. After all, it was colonised by the British as recently as 1788. But consider this: Aboriginal culture is older than Roman ruins. It predates the Pyramids and existed long before Stonehenge; estimated to stretch back at least 60,000 years, it is the oldest continuous living culture in the world. Yet you won’t find grand monuments dotted around Australia’s vast outback. What you’ll discover is a rich culture that has always lived softly. Deeply connected to nature, its historical footprint exists through rock paintings that date back tens of thousands of years; through dancing grounds used for generations; and through stories laden with acute wisdom, which continue to be told today. While the term Aboriginal is used as a collective for the civilisation, at the time of colonisation there were more than 300 different Aboriginal ‘nations’ within Australia, with at least as many languages – most of which are now highly endangered. The skill and sophistication of these societies is still being recognised. The invention of baking, for example, is often attributed to the Egyptians, but there’s evidence of seed grinding by Aboriginal people some 30,000 years ago. Earlier still, stone wall fish traps remain in place as perhaps the oldest humanmade structures on Earth. Meanwhile, Aboriginal people were developing complex farming practices about 6000 years ago and became masters of leveraging fire for land management. They are also regarded as the world’s first astronomers, using the stars to predict seasonal change and food sources. One way to garner insight into the complexity of Aboriginal culture is to join a personalised tour of the Australian Museum’s First Australians galleries, which mixes boomerang displays and didgeridoo performances with the largest natural history and cultural collection in the country. As they represent less than four per cent of Australia’s current population, an everyday interaction with Australia’s First Peoples is not a given for most visitors. Entering their world, sharing their culture and seeing the land through their eyes is a rare privilege. That is why the Discover Aboriginal Experiences (DAE) collection has been created: to enable you to learn from Koomal Dreaming’s Josh Whiteland about the six seasons used to guide bush hunting and gathering; to experience a traditional welcome ceremony inside an 800-millionyear-old natural amphitheatre at the Adnyamathanha people’s Wilpena Pound Resort; and to understand connection to country while walking in sight of skyscraper Australia is often thought of as a young.