Australian Aborigines - A Story of Survival

Australian Aborigines' story of survival is quite amazing. There is not much knowledge about the early days, where they came from or how they arrived to this continent.

Scientists believe that the ancestors of Australian Aboriginals came by sea in times when ocean levels were lower, islands were bigger and the distances between them shorter. This would have made it possible for them to cross the ditch by rafts or some sort of primitive water crafts.

In time, they had to adapt to a dryer continent, with fierce fires sweeping through vast bushland. Rather than flee from the threat, they learnt to prevent, manage and put the fires to good use.

They developed a very wise system of controlling bush fire.

Managing the Bush Fire

australian aborigines - arid land

As the land was mostly arid, Indigenous Australians moved around in search of food. Before leaving one place, they would start a grass fire.

Why would they do this?

To promote new growth and attract animals to come in and feed on new, fresh plants. They used fire not only to cook food but also to produce it.

Some of the Australian native plants need fire to release their seeds. They need to be roasted to germinate. The low intensity fires open up seed pods.

Aboriginal people realised that grass fire helped the ecosystem and helped them maintain growth and diversity of vegetation. This meant more varied and nutritious food and also plants to use as medicine.

They did patch burning to start a new food cycle. And the controlled fire had some useful side effects - ash is a good fertiliser and increases the ability of the soil to yield.

Patch burning also helped with effective hunting as animals were easier to spot. But, probably, the strongest benefit was that controlled burning was helping reduce fuel debris and made the place safer for its inhabitants.

Burning constantly reduces big fuel build-up and reduces the threat of destructive, wild bush fires.

Australian Aborigines used fire as a tool to rejuvenate the environment and stimulate fertility of the land.





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