Today we travel to the Antipodes, to Australia. Since 1788, the basis of Australian culture has been strongly influenced by Anglo-Celtic Western culture. Distinctive cultural features have also arisen from Australia's natural environment and Indigenous cultures. Since the mid-20th century, American popular culture has strongly influenced Australia, particularly through television and cinema. Other cultural influences come from neighboring Asian countries and through large-scale immigration from non-English-speaking nations.
Founded on stories of battlers, bushrangers and brave soldiers; of sporting heroes, working heroes and plucky migrants. It’s all about a fair go, the great outdoors and a healthy helping of irony. Today Australia also defines itself by its Aboriginal heritage, vibrant mix of cultures, innovative ideas and a thriving arts scene.
The oldest surviving cultural traditions in Australia—and some of the oldest surviving cultural traditions on earth—are those of Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Their ancestors have inhabited Australia for between 40,000 and 60,000 years, living a hunter-gatherer lifestyle.
The Dreamtime is the sacred ‘time before time’ of the world’s creation. According to Aboriginal belief, totemic spirit ancestors emerged from the earth and descended from the sky to awaken a dark and silent world. They created the sun, moon and stars, forged mountains, rivers, trees and waterholes and changed into human and animal forms. Spirit ancestors connect this ancient past with the present and future through every aspect of Aboriginal culture. Rock art, craft and bark painting reveal Dreamtime stories, mark territory and record history, while songs tell of Dreamtime journeys, verbally mapping water sources and other essential landmarks. Their special lyrics have been passed down virtually unchanged for at least 50,000 years, and are often accompanied by clap sticks or the deep throb of the didgeridoo. Similarly, traditional dances reveal creation myths; enact the deeds of Dreamtime heroes and even recent historical events.
Here is a sample of the traditional music of the native people of Australia. Enjoy this masterpiece of aboriginal folk music and the fascinating sound of the didgeridoo (the traditional aboriginal wooden "drone pipe")!
Have a wonderful Labor Day weekend!
- Alba Serrano-Miro