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TOADS Down Under



Ancient ? Art Forms
(21-9-02 Tassie Devil)

Although Australian aboriginal cave paintings have been found going back tens of thousands of years, the widely recognised form of dot painting has been around for a relatively short 11,000 days. It was actually introduced by a school teacher, Geoff Bardon in 1971. Many of the images depicted do form part of the aboriginal Dreamtime (folklore) and have been passed down for generations by being drawn in the sand with a stick. The current dot paintings, although thought of as ancient, were invented long after you lot left school. See... its not all just beer, sport and boobs here.

[Tassie Devil has been shamed into a more cultural entry by the editor - normal service will be resumed as soon as possible]







The Dreamtime
(21-9-02 Ed)

Generation after generation of Aborigines built up knowledge of their terrain and the ways of its flora and fauna.  Over time this knowledge became a set of rules for survival - a stock of wisdom transformed into ritual and taboo.  This in turn locked clans into the particular stretch of territory they occupied, each with land marks that became associated with powerful, unpredictable spirits who had to be appeased in order to ensure the clan's well being. 

Binding everything together across the whole continent was a body of oral tradition and vibrant imagery now referred to as The Dreamtime.  This harked back to the dawn of creation, when Ancestral Spirits roamed the Earth and conjured everything into existence.  These spirits became incorporated into features in the landscape, and so remained a constant presence.  Individuals had their own 'dreaming', a personal totem in the form of a plant or animal, and each clan had it's own 'dreaming track' - an oral map that defined it's territorial range and was handed down in song.

In this way, Australia was crisscrossed with invisible tracks linking clan with clan in mystical kinship with nature, and making every person the effective guardian of a little bit of creation.  There were no leaders, no priests, no armies, no sense of property, since anything which could not easily be carried from campfire to campfire was an encumbrance.  As the modern Aborigine poet Oodgeroo put it: 'We don't own the land.  The land owns us.'

The massive sandstone rock known as Uluru is perhaps the best known image of Australia.  In Aboriginal culture it's an important meeting point of the 'dreaming tracks', the crisscrossing mythical and sacred tracks that mark the journeys their ancestors made as they moulded the landscape.

Dorothea Mackellar
(14-10-02 Ed)

Hi Ron, In the Antipodean section, left hand column you have half of a famous??? Aussie poem (anon) and the  picture of a pavement plaque at Circular Key near the Sydney Opera House gives the complete text and poetesses name. I feel that your web page should be amended to reflect this as after all there is such a lack of culture downunder that any little bits should be acknowledged, especially Sir Les Patterson. As the old chestnut goes "
there's more culture on a six week old yoghurt that exists in Aus". Seriously though having just got back from another working trip to Brisbane and Perth it's a Wonderful Place and oh that I was thirty years younger.

John Gurney



06 November, 2004         Ron Moss