While travelling though Australia, I have learned a lot about aboriginal culture and traditions. This was particularly prevalent in the Red Centre, where Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park attracts 250,000 people a year to take in the fascinating landscape and hear the aboriginal stories. As I walked the base of Uluru rock there were many sites prohibited for photography as they are considered sacred to the aboriginals. This is because the rock contains areas strictly for women and areas strictly for men, meaning if a male witnesses a sacred women’s area, they will be dishonoured and even exiled from the tribe.
Aboriginal stories explain the formation of Uluru which are centred around morality, so when children hear the stories, they are taught that those who commit wrong doing are punished, much like fables I heard as a child.
I also learned that to climb the rock is not only unsafe but extremely disrespectful to the aboriginals since Uluru is their sacred place. Many tourists climb the rock unprepared and with no care for the pollution they leave behind or their own safety when temperatures can rise to a scorching 40 degrees celsius.
Aside from the famous Red Centre, aboriginal culture extends the whole country with more than 500 tribes and communities practicing their own values, languages and traditions. Although much of the population has declined since Western settlers arrived and displaced families as termed ‘The Stolen Generation’, aboriginal traditions still hold strong in the remaining communities.
Much controversy remains around how aboriginals are portrayed in the media with many being stereotyped as unemployed alcoholics, dependent on state hand outs when this is not applicable to the majority. The politics around ‘the stolen generation’ also remains an issue as to how the loss of aboriginal children during the English colonisation can be truly compensated by the state today.