The Australian Aborigines and Their Extraordinary Talents
Airfare Daily Deals eCigarettes Eyeglasses Hotels Jewelry Online Backup Online Dating Online Printing Online Tickets Skin Care Textbook Rentals Vitamins Web Hosting Weddings
Find thousands of shopping-related forums
SEARCH

The Australian Aborigines and Their Extraordinary Talents

The word aborigine describes the earliest known people to live in a land or country. It is mostly used to describe the first inhabitants of Australia. The Aborigines of Australia left Southeast Asia more than 40,000 years ago. They probably crossed the ocean to Australia by raft or dugout canoe. Aborigines are the first or earliest people of a country. The Aborigines formed about 500 tribal groups, each with its own language. Each tribe claimed a territory (an area of land) and wandered within that area to hunt, fish, and gather food. Each tribe was like a large family made up of several clans, or groups, of 30 to 40 people. Each clan had an emblem, or totem, usually an animal or a plant. The Aborigines believed that all things on Earth, people, animals, plants, and even rocks were important parts of nature and of the unseen spirit world. The Aborigines adapted to Australia’s often harsh conditions. They used spears and several types of curved throwing sticks called boomerangs, some for sport, and others for hunting or fighting. They also created rock carvings and painted pictures on cave walls and strips of tree bark. In 1788, when the first European settlers came to Australia, there were perhaps more than 300,000 Aborigines. As the Europeans spread out, they drove Aborigines from their lands into remote areas. Many died from foreign diseases.

The word aborigine describes the earliest known people to live in a land or country. It is mostly used to describe the first inhabitants of Australia. The Aborigines of Australia left Southeast Asia more than 40,000 years ago. They probably crossed the ocean to Australia by raft or dugout canoe. Aborigines are the first or earliest people of a country.

Life in Australia

The Aborigines formed about 500 tribal groups, each with its own language. Each tribe claimed a territory (an area of land) and wandered within that area to hunt, fish, and gather food. Each tribe was like a large family made up of several clans, or groups, of 30 to 40 people. Each clan had an emblem, or totem, usually an animal or a plant. The Aborigines believed that all things on Earth such as people, plants, animals, and even rocks were essential parts of nature and of the unseen spirit world.

The Aborigines adapted to Australia’s often harsh conditions. They used spears and several types of curved throwing sticks called boomerangs, some for sport, and others for hunting or fighting. They also created rock carvings and painted pictures on cave walls and strips of tree bark. In 1788, when the first European settlers came to Australia, there were perhaps more than 300,000 Aborigines. As the Europeans spread out, they drove Aborigines from their lands into remote areas. Many died from foreign diseases.

Modern

Today there are about 352,000 Aboriginal people, about 1.5 percent of the population in Australia. About one-third of them are wholly Aborigine. The rest have some European ancestry. They are descendants of Stone Age nomads; they belong to one of the most ancient races on earth.

Most of Aborigines live in cities and towns. Their standard of living is generally much lower than that of other Australians. In the past decades the government has run programs to help the Aborigines get jobs and houses.

The Aborigines want once more to live freely on their ancestral lands. In 1992 the Australian High Court ruled that the Aborigines owned Australia before Europeans arrived. From 1993 the Aborigines were allowed to claim land as “natives,” and they now own parts of the South Australia and Northern Territory but also Western Australia.

Aborigines’ Extraordinary Talents

These aborigines have extraordinary talents and highly developed senses of smell and sight. Their skin is dark brown and they have curly hair, large mouths and broad foreheads. Originally they were hunters and fishermen. They rest when they have food, and hunt when they are hungry.

Most of them are now living in camps in permanent places or reservations. They have been changes by civilization. But more than 30,000 aborigines who live in the northern parts of Australia are very different, because they are not yet much touched by civilization. They can live in deserts where other people would die. They can follow the most difficult tracks of animals in the thick bush, while our eyes can see nothing.

Because of this skill the aborigines are frequently employed by the police to follow a criminal or look for peoples who are lost in the thick bush. In New South Wales a girl of four got lost. Forty neighbors on foot and horseback went through the bush and tried to find her all day without success. Then the father telephoned the police, 60 kilometers away, asking for the help of the aborigine, or “black tracker” as he is called, employed at the police station.

When the tracker arrived just before dawn, there did not seem to be anything for him to follow. It was summer and the ground was dry and hard. He went around the house, moving out farther and farther. Suddenly he went in a certain straight line. For hours he followed an unseen track that could not be seen by others. Of course there were some fallen leaves, broken branches, and a kicked stone here and there and these were the only marks.

Sometimes he ran or jumped. At other times he kneeled. Twice, in a stony area, he lost the track. But at last in the afternoon he found the little girl sleeping soundly beside a tree. The tracker was as happy as her parents, because the aborigines are really kind people. They will work hard when they are tracking a lost person, and often cry with joy when they find him.

The skills shown by these aborigines are the result of their struggle for life. They have no way of keeping food in a hot country, so they must hunt almost daily. They can throw their spears accurately only up to 40 meters, because the bushes are too thick, so they must get closer to their target. For example, from the track of a kangaroo they know its speed, age, size, state of health, and everything that can help them in their hunt.

An aborigine, who led a search party for three lost men, gave an explanation of the activities of the men while getting lost. One of the lost men had put his gun to his left shoulder and killed a wild turkey. This conclusion was explained by the tracker with these simple facts: (1) when a man shoots left-handed, he puts his right foot forward, instead of the left foot as a normal person would do, (2) the bullet had torn the bush and grass; (3) the wild turkey had lost some feathers.

The aborigine had noticed all these when untrained men had seen nothing. On the border of a small town, lived a lonely old man, Crazy Jack. He regularly became lost. One time the police could not find any sign of him, and after two days’ search they sent the aborigines. Rain hadn’t fallen for weeks. The bush was covered by hundreds of tracks, made either by searchers or by Crazy Jack himself. After only a moment’s silence, the two aborigines went after what they believed to be the old man’s footprints.

An examination proved that the old man was ill, not drunk, when he had gone out alone. The aborigines knew it from the experiences they had had ever since their baby days. They used to watch carefully the tracks made by healthy as well as sick men.

The skill of the “black tracker” can be proved even on a crowded city street. In Queensland, a man robbed a jewelry store. A tracker was following the thief’s footprints when heavy rain washed them out. Ten days later the same tracker found the same boot prints outside the post office. He led the police through thousands of footmarks in the dusty street, and finally to a hotel, where the robber was then arrested.

Some people are of the opinion that nature has given the aborigines something special in the way of senses. But a doctor who has tested them says that their eyes and ears are not different, only they are better trained than ours. Their sense of smell is certainly very sharp. They can smell a fire, burning tobacco and a sweating horse at a distance of a kilometer.

Roy Governor was a notorious Australian criminal who operated in the wild north-west country. He was clever and he was aborigine too. He used to cover his feet with sheepskin to hide his tracks. He went down the river bank and entered the water, pretending to cross it. But instead he would climb on a tree, jumped from branch to branch and tree to tree for 50 meters, then drop to the ground. Nobody could have found his track, but he had never known Alec Riley, a “black tracker” employed to the New South Wales police. In the end the police captured him with the help of Riley.

Need an answer?
Get insightful answers from community-recommended
experts
in Anthropology on Knoji.
Would you recommend this author as an expert in Anthropology?
You have 0 recommendations remaining to grant today.
Comments (0)
ARTICLE DETAILS
RELATED ARTICLES