Ghan, 8-10 March 2006
Sixty thousand years.
Nobody knows the exact age of the Aboriginal culture.
Highest estimates are around sixty thousand years.
The Aboriginals have the oldest, living culture of all humans.
Now that is impressive.
The Aboriginal culture outdates the Romans, Greek and Egyptians easily.
Those were just recent developments on a 60,000 years timescale.
This timescale spans such a long time that climate changes are visible in Kakadu's rock art.
Wow, a culture so old that is seems climates come and go.
It is beyond my level of comprehension, demands respect.
- Old painting show boomerangs, useful in a dry climate.
- More recent paintings do not show boomerangs anymore, as the climate got wetter and the bush was too dens for boomerangs.
New drawings show fierce lightning, a new phenomenon introduced by tropical storms.
Kakadu, Arnhem Land
The larger part of Australia has a rather hash, dry climate.
The top end of the Northern Territory (NT) is and exception in the wet season.
Nature is green during the wet, everything grows with a tropical enthousiasm.
Rivers flow at full force, waterfals offer inviting places for a swim.
Forests offerr shade, the NT is a good place to be.
Odd, but most tourists stay away from the wet, just when nature here is at its best.
Accessing Arnhem Land is difficult.
During the wet roads are flooded.
And even in the dry it is hard, you need a special permit to enter.
The Aboriginal centre in Kakadu offers a view into another world.
- The Aboriginal calender has many seasons per year.
- Dangerous fires are rare.
Taking good care of the land means clearing it, burn the grass, before the fire danger gets too high.
- The marriage system, who-marries-who, with 16 different types of generations, is far beyond my level of comprehention.
Modern art, Aboriginal style, means only a few thousand years old.
- No private property, everybody shares everything.
Answers on Aborignal Culture
Now the Aboriginal culture far different from anything I know.
When I return from Kakadu I am loaded with questions.
Aborignal art agent in Katherine, running the
most agreable internet café in Katherine
answers all my questions.
Glen Bird has Aboriginal blood.
His knowledge comes first hand, comes naturally.
- The sixteen generations are clear and make sense.
- Different art styles are clear, I see the differences between central desert style and paintings from Arnhem land.
- Every painting tells a story, fainting the
definitions of art,
encyclopedia, school book, map and literature.
- And Glen teaches me circular breathing, the right way to play a didgeridoo.
Katherine is the gateway to Kakadu and Arnhem land.
Aborignal Art Galery in Katherine
is close to the source.
He knows the faces behind each artist name,
of every artist in every painting.
Time of departure has arrived.
The Ghan taks me to Adelaide in a two nights journey.
The wet season says bye-bye to me in style: with a powerful tropical shower.
No worries, I'm sure to return to the Top End.