Australian history I

The first Australians


It is widely believed that the Aboriginal people migrated from some unknown point in Asia to Australia between 60,000 and 50,000 years ago, and quickly covered the entire continent. This is a remarkable feat when you consider the variety and extremes of the Australian environment.


Traditionally the Aborigines were hunters and gathers moving with the seasons, taking with them only those possessions that were necessary for the hunting and preparation of food. In areas of plentiful food sources they confined their movements to a relatively small area. In the arid and semi-arid regions they were forced to travel over vast tracts of land to obtain food and water.


Aboriginal society was a complex network of intricate kinship relationships. All members of the family unit had their own role and responsibilities. No formal government or authority existed, but social control was maintained by a sophisticated system of beliefs called the Dreaming. These beliefs found expression in song, art, and dance. A rich oral tradition existed in which stories of the Dreamtime, the time of creation, or recent history were passed down the generations.