TRADITIONAL ABORIGINAL MUSIC
Some idea as to when this musical intrusion
occurred may be obtained from Chaloupka's chronology of the rock
art of the Arnhem Land Plateau.
While maintaining that a study of rock art can provide important
insights into the prehistory of Australia, Chaloupka considers it
possible to position art periods, phases and styles of the plateau
region between 'time indices given by known climatological, geomorphological
and archaeological data, and by zoological and botanical evidence'.
His three basic periods are named 'pre-estuarine', 'post-estuarines'
Chaloupka's 'post-estuarine' period, which dates from about 1,000
years BP., possibly later, is marked by rock paintings which depict
estuarine species such as barramundi and salt-water crocodile.
In addition to introduced species the paintings documents new weapons,
including a multiplicity of spear types and the spear thrower. Boomerangs
are conspicuous by their absence from post-estuarine paintings.
Chaloupka's 'post-estuarine' appears to correspond, in part at any
rate, with the 'late Mimi' rock art period of Brandl (1973).
Having stressed that breeding grounds for magpie geese, whistle
ducks and other water birds would have been available after fresh-water
swamps had replaced salt marsh plains, and noted that rock paintings
of the plateau area depict flora such as the red lily, introduced
with the development of fresh-water lagoons and the like, Chaloupka
adds that in the most recent paintings hunters are to be seen 'carrying
a "goose spear", a light, short bamboo spear tipped with
a silver of hardwood, and a goose wing fan' (the function of the
latter, still used the region, is to fan the embers of a fire into
At the beginning of this last ecological change, the didgeridu made
its appearance in rock paintings; and, as Chaloupka has noted, 'the
people associated with this instrument carry a goose wing fan'.