REGIONAL VARIATIONS - 1

 

Australia’s landscape varies from rainforests to deserts, from coastal and marine environments to an arid interior. Subsequent variations in vegetation and food resources have shaped the nature of Aboriginal culture, which varies throughout the continent.

In the well-watered northern and coastal regions, trees with stringy bark and fibrous roots provide fibres suitable for spinning into strong string and rope. In the arid interior, where such vegetation is lacking, strong ties (used on weaponry) are made from splitting tendons and sheaths from kangaroo’s legs and tails. Weaker and softer strings (used on body adornment) are made from certain grass stalks, human hair and animal fur.

 

Bush String Russell River

Bush string made from the bark of the banyan tree (Ficus virens virens), northern Australia.

(David M. Welch Collection.)

The hook on this spearthrower is tied with strong kangaroo sinews, then stained with red ochre. Central Australia.

(David M. Welch Collection.)

Similarly, there are differences in women’s carrying utensils between coastal and arid regions. In the past, woven string bags were common in coastal areas, an open-mesh bag woven from split cane was used in northern Queensland, while women in Central Australia relied on a range of solid wooden coolamons to carry their items.


food collecting

Women's Basketry

Similarly, there are differences in women’s carrying utensils between coastal and arid regions. In the past, woven string bags were common in coastal areas, an open-mesh bag woven from split cane was used in northern Queensland, while women in Central Australia relied on a range of solid wooden coolamons to carry their items.

Women carrying large woven baskets. 1928. Arnhem Land, Northern Territory.

(Photograph by Herbert Basedow,
courtesy of the Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales.)

 

In addition to shaping variations in the nature of weaponry, utensils, tools and basketry, different environments throughout Australia have influenced the types of Ancestral Beings featuring in local religion. Thus, for example, deities connected with thunder, lightning and torrential rainfall are found in the tropical north, while people living in the arid interior of Australia have a range of desert animals with human qualities amongst their deities.

----


Photographs and details in the following section about Regional Variations relate to northern Queensland, and are from Seventeen Years Wandering Among the Aboriginals, first in the Australian Aboriginal Culture Series, associated with this website.

Other regional studies of Aboriginal culture have been published by David M. Welch in the Australian Aboriginal Culture Series. These contain important material written by early ethnographers who showed compassion and understanding for Aboriginal people and their culture. Their manuscripts have been combined with previously unpublished photographs and additional text to produce expanded, updated volumes with the following book titles:

More about Regional Variations ->



Material is copyright to www.aboriginalculture.com.au and David M. Welch.
Students may use material from this site for study projects.
Please acknowledge your source as www.aboriginalculture.com.au, and show the year of access.
The author of all written material is David M. Welch.
Teachers and others may download, print and use material for teaching,
providing you notify your administrative staff or Copyright Agency Limited (CAL) to arrange a contribution. Thank you.