Not all island life comes into being when humans arrive upon its pristine shores by boat. Some islands originate as wayward fragments of continents that were separated from the mainland by powerful geologic forces. When this powerful force of nature awakens, entire ecosystems are set adrift as they accustom to their new found isolation.

Through this process, certain species become extinct as they are unable to adapt to the new circumstances in which they find themselves in. At the same time, new species which evolved in other parts of the continent can no longer enter the now-isolated island.

Evolution–if you can call it that–begins to slow down. These isolated islands then become living geologic museums. Except they are not museums. They are well and truly alive.

Aboriginal Australians

Australia is the oldest, flattest and driest inhabited continent with the least fertile soils. Despite this, Australia is a megadiverse country. Due to its sheer size, it has been blessed with a wide variety of landscapes and climates: from desserts, to tropical rainforests, to mountain ranges.

The term Aboriginal Australian is used to describe the many distinct peoples who have lived and developed across Australia for over 60,000 years prior to white settlement. Aboriginal peoples have occupied the same territory continuously longer than any other human population and they possess the oldest continuous culture on the planet.

Each indigenous group has beliefs that are unique to their tribe. These beliefs are rooted in a strong connection that a group has to the land and to their country. They are a complex mixture that vary by region and individual. Traditional cultural beliefs are passed down and shared via dancing, stories, songlines and art. Some core structures and themes are shared while details and additional elements vary between language and cultural groups.

In The Dreamtime of most regions, a spirit creates the earth then instructs humans to treat the animals and the earth in a way which is respectful to the earth. In Northern Territory, this is commonly said to be a huge snake or array of snakes that weaved their way through the earth and the sky as it created the mountains and oceans. In other places, the spirits that created the world are known as the rain and water spirits.

The Songlines

Did I hear the Songlines sing as I walked through my first home away from home? It’s hard to say as so long has passed and my memories are blurry. The story of Ancient Australia began a long time ago. But these songs, these stories–they are not human history. They are the songs of the land, the rivers, the rocks, the trees, the animals, the flora, the fauna…

Aboriginal Creation stories tell of the totemic beings who had wandered over the continent during the Dreamtime. They sung out the names of everything that crossed their paths. It is how they sung the world into existence.

The Aboriginals had a philosophy deeply rooted in the earth. The earth gave life to man, provided him with food, language and intelligence; and to the earth man must return when he passed on. To Aboriginals, a man’s ‘own country’ was sacred and had to remain unscarred.

In Ancient Australia, it is believed that the ancestors created themselves from clay. These numbered into the hundreds and thousands. Each totemic ancestor, as it travelled through the country, was believed to have scattered a trail of words and musical notes along the line of his footprints.

A song functioned as both a map and a direction-finder. As long as you kew the song, you could find your way across the country. By singing the world into existence, the Ancestors functioned as poetic creator beings. The philosophy holds that the land must first exist in the mind, then it must be sung, and only then it can exist.

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