ALONG THE TRACK
The Stuart Highway between Alice Springs and Katherine travels through
several different Aboriginal language groups, each with their own
culture and history.
The small town of Barrow Creek is little changed since it was established
as part of the Overland Telegraph Line over 100 years ago, an event
which prompted cultural conflicts, with tragic results.
The eye catching granite formations of the Devils Marbles, span
the highway 104 km south of Tennant Creek. In local creation stories,
these rounded stones are regarded as the eggs of the powerful Rainbow
Serpent. At Tennant Creek the Warumungu people welcome visitors
to their country. As well as opportunities to share the traditional
stories and bush foods, there is local art for sale.
This fast growing Outback centre is best known for the wonders of
nearby Katherine Gorge. The town is also the gateway to some of
the Territory's most remarkable and least travelled, Outback regions.
To the east the vastness of Arnhem Land and the Gulf country beckons.
Meanwhile, the track west leads to the Victoria River region.
It is not just points of the compass that are important here. Katherine
is the crossroads for more than 36 different Aboriginal cultural
groups, and nearby are the heartlands of the Jawoyn, Dagoman and
To the west at Ingelari Waterhole, in Wardaman country, is one of
Australia's greatest art and creation sites. The stunning rock paintings
and engravings here are dominated by the evocative Lightning Brothers,
creators of the violent storms that bring summer rains and new life
to the land.
As the sun sets across Kakadu, the land comes alive. Around billabongs
mobs of waterbirds feed among the paperbarks. Shadows stretch across
the woodlands. Among the outcrops of the escarpment the fiery afternoon
light reveals a remarkable legacy.
In the rock shelters you find ochre paintings of animals, birds
and fish and also human figures and haunting spirit images that
stir the imagination.
To spend time in Kakadu is to be granted a vision of another world.
The scale and diversity of the place can seem daunting. So too its
60 000 year relationship with the Aboriginal people.
Yet the possibilities to travel the land, to reflect on the songs
and creation stories gives access to the spirit of place. Nowhere
is this more conspicuous than in the art of the stone country. Here
the bonds between the people, the land, the seasons and all living
things are plain to see.
Kakadu National Park is jointly managed by Traditional Owners (Bininj)
and Environment Australia. It is World Heritage listed for both
its natural and cultural values.
Aboriginal people are a vital presence in the life of Australia's
Northern capital. As well as being the traditional home of the Larrakia
people, darwin is an important gathering place for visitors from
outlying areas. Aboriginal endeavour is visible in the arts, local
businesses, government agencies and sport.
Darwin boasts a range of commercial galleries showcasing Aboriginal
creativity. Here you can choose from representations of regional
art, including major bark paintings, works on paper, woven baskets,
wood carvings and fine examples of traditional tools and weapons.
A vibrant city noted for its diversity of cultures, Darwin reveals
many different aspects of Aboriginal life, from customs and artistic
expression evolved over countless generations, to new initiatives
such as performances by leading edge Aboriginal musicians among
the world-renowned Yothu
The people of Tiwi Islands are like no other in the Territory. Their
history has seen the emergence of distinctive customs, beliefs and
A visit to these islands is a cultural interaction on many levels.
You will observe traditions that have withstood the impact of the
outside world for centuries. Nevertheless, the community is proud
of their response to the opportunities of modern life. At Nguiu
you can see evidence of this and the early mission precinct.
At home in the bush and by the sea, The Tiwi people have a pride
and an indomitable charm all of their own.
A variety of Aboriginal communities operate Art & Craft Centres
on Elcho Island, Maningrida, Ramingining, Gunbalannya (Oenpelli)
which are the home of many famous artists and craftmen and provide
a window on the lives and cultures of local Aboriginal groups who
have lived on their traditional lands for over 60 000 years but
also reveal the dynamic and changing nature of those cultures (Permits