Aborigines probably came to Australia from Indonesia 50,000 years ago. The oldest skeleton is about 38,000 years old and was found with traces of ceremonial paint.
Originally, Aborigines were nomads and didn’t have a sense of land ownership, although tribes returned to particular places to bury their dead. Some places, like Uluru, were sacred because they were associated with ‘Dreamtime’, the time when the earth was formed.
Aborigines legends, songs and dances tell of powerful spirits who created the land and people during the Dreamtime. There was no written Aboriginal language and most of the 600 tribes spoke different dialects. However, the tradition of the dreamtime united the people. Rock paintings showing this creation period can be found all over the country.
The arrival of Europeans gradually brought an end to the traditional Aboriginal way of life. Today, most Aborigines live in cities and towns and only a few continue the old nomadic way of life.
In recent years, white Australians have become more sensitive to the Aborigines’ situation and there is a growing appreciation of their culture.