Australian Aborigenes

Australian Aborigenes.  An Introduction.

Meeting with Prof. Antonella Riem, University of Udine, 28th November 2006


Dear Girls,

(or shall I say dear survivors since there were just a bunch of you?)  We were lucky enough to have a two-hour session with Prof. Riem, who infused us with profound respect for the original peoples living in Australia before the “invasion of the colonizers”, the Aborigines  and with the desire to learn more about them.  It was great listening to Antonella’s lecture and some of her personal accounts of her visits to Australia.  We watched a documentary on Ainslie Roberts, a painter born in England but brought up in Australia, who tried to bridge Aboriginal culture and mythology.  

I would love to know from you

1. what you liked best about the documentary;

2. what you liked most about prof. Riem’s lecture;

3. what would you like to investigate following the general overview of Aboriginal culture.


We were given some material to work on, but if you want to continue your research on the Aborigines, I can lend you a fantastic book I bought: “I sentieri del sogno. Viaggi nella terra degli Aborigeni”.  Antonella’s lecture was a sort of eye-opener for me.  I know so little about Aboriginal culture and she instilled in me the interest of reading more about it.  Thank you, Antonella. 


I am quoting from the above-mentioned book: “Da 50.000 anni, gli aborigeni hanno un nome e una storia per ogni duna di sabbia, per ogni pianura erbosa, per ogni roccia, per ogni pozza d’acqua: quei siti sono le impronte del passaggio degli esseri ancestrali che hanno percorso e modellato la terra alla superficie e nel sottosuolo, dando vita agli uomini, alla fauna e alla flora che da allora popolano il paese.  Hanno fatto nascere anche dei sogni (dreamings): sogno serpente arcobaleno, sogno uomini iniziati, sogno popoli nuvole o sogno ignami, sogno emù, sogno donne bastone da scavo… di generazione in generazione, gli aborigeni sono stati i custodi di quei siti sacri e dei sogni che vi sono associati: li onorano e li animano con i loro canti, con le loro danze, ma anche dipingendoli sulla sabbia, sui loro corpi, sulle cortecce e, da qualche anno, sulle tele.”

7 Replies to “Australian Aborigenes”

  1. I am really sorry that I was not at the meeting with prof. Antonella Reim. I missed I the opportunity of listening what she had to say, but I wasn’t even at school that day! I had some problems.

    I will read all my schoolmates’ comments though so I that I can have an idea of what you’ve done that day! well I was wondering if I could make any questions about what my schoolmates are going to write if it’s not a problem! I hope so!

    thanks, izzy

  2. Dear Izzy,

    Of course you can ask your classmates questions about prof. Riem’s lecture. Just ask them and you know you can share their notes, but also read the interesting material they were given. Two of your classmates are going to work on the Aborigines, so just ask them for the material I gave them. There is also an interesting film “Rabbit Proof Fence” kindly lent to me by your former English teacher Ms Bortoluzzi. I have been said it is a wonderful film, but I haven’t been able to watch it yet. It is about the issue of “stolen children”. You can ask for clarifications in class.

  3. I’m so sorry because I didn’t had the possibility to give my feedback before. Now, here I am and I’ll try to describe what kind of feelings the “precious” session with Prof. Riem has aroused in me.

    The conference with Lance Henson ended with the classic: “to be continued…” and the second meeting with Prof. Riem represented the perfect “sequel” ..I can’t imagine a better one!

    Prof. Riem’s lecture and Prof Riem her self has been able to capture my attention and made me travel through the boundaries of Aborigines’ world and culture. I can really say that I made a real spiritual travel: I’ve been transported by Prof. Riem’s words and by her evocation of vivid pictures, memories and accounts taken from her visits to Australia.

    I could percieve real love, passion and respect for Aborigines coming from the deepdown of her heart.

    During the conference I listened with great involvement everything that Prof. Riem said..and I was more involved especially when she spoke about Aborigines’ cults, religion, traditions and beliefs: I think that these aspects are really interesting also because they promote a comparison with our own culture and religion and because, thanks to their amazing simplicity, they offer us an occasion to discover values and ideals we do not know or that we never take in consideration.

    So, following the general overview of Aboriginal culture, I would like to investigate more about Aborigines’ beliefs and faith; I’ve always been bewitched by cults coming from civilizations of ancient story, for example Egyptian civilization, and consequently I was (and I am!) interested in learning more about Aborigines’ mysyery cults.

    We watched also an “illuminating” documentary based on Eisli Robert’s life: through the painter’s experience of life, the documentary dealt with the concept of “dreamtime”, that is the keyword in Aborigines’ culture. What I liked best about the documentary consists in different elements: the direct partecipation of Eisli Roberts him self; his accessibility, sensibility and great semplicity and his big respect for Aborigines and for Australia, the land that brought up him.

    I also really liked the female voice that acted as narrator: she expressed her self in a very clear way so that I could understand every passage.

    The documentary, with its music, tone of voice and information’s wealth, created a magic atmosphare and I really felt part of it.

    So, I can really say that the two conferences have been useful because I had the possibility to have a contact with a partially unknown culture and because they gave me the possibility to discover hidden sides of a world that has always excited my curiosity.


  4. Dear Smarty,

    Your feedback will be very precious for the final report I need to write for this project. Professor Riem will be happy to read your obvervations. After having read your post I am more convinced than ever that what we did in these months (the hard work we were asked to carry out, the time we had to invest in writing the feedback and read each other’s observations ) was really a great “investment”. Thanks to you we will certainly try to promote this project to other classes, because we realized it is really worth doing all this!

    Thanks for finding the time to write this useful feedback. Do remember that professor Riem lent me the documentary, so should you like to watch it again you just need to ask for it. Then I ordered a copy of Roberts’s book on dreamtime. As soon as I get it I will lend it to you so that you can quench your thirst for more Aboriginal input!

    Cheers. 🙂

  5. Beautiful, even if I feel that I will not taste until the bottom…

    It makes to space the mind in warm exotic places therefore but giving to a such cold and abandonment rising of oximoro.

    But I would not want to make a delirium now.


  6. Incredible O_O 😮

    look at that :

    Edward Leedskalnin was born in Riga, Latvia on August 10th, 1887. When Ed was 26 years old, he was engaged to be married to his one true Love, Agnes Scuffs. Agnes was ten years younger than Ed; he affectionately referred to Agnes as his “Sweet Sixteen”. Agnes cancelled the wedding just one day before the ceremony.

    Heartbroken and deeply saddened by this tragic loss, Ed set out on a lifelong quest to create a monument to his lost love that has culminated into one of the world’s most remarkable accomplishments. Ed’s unusual creation is called the Coral Castle, (it was originally called “Rock Gate Park”). Ed without any outside assistance or large machinery single-handedly built the Coral Castle. He carved and sculpted over 1,100 tons of coral rock as a testimony to his lost love, Agnes.

    What makes Ed’s work remarkable is the fact that he was just over 5 feet tall and weighed only 100 pounds. The coral that he worked on was sometimes 4,000 feet thick. Incredibly, he cut and moved huge coral blocks using only hand tools. He had acquired some skills working in lumber camps and came from a family of stone masons in Latvia. He drew on this knowledge and strength to cut and move these blocks.


  7. Long ago ran the sun on a folk who had a dream And the heart and the will and the power; They moved earth; they carved stone; moulded hill and channeled stream That we might stand on the wide plains of Wiltshire.

    Now men asked who they were, how they built and wonder why That they wrought standing stones of such size. What was done ‘neath our shade? What was pray’ed ‘neath our skies As we stood on the wyrd plains of Wiltshire.

    Oh what secrets we could tell if you’d listen and be still. Rid the stink and the noise from our skirts. But you haven’t got the clue and perhaps you never will. Mute we stand on the cold plains of Wiltshire.

    Still we loom in the mists as the ages roll away And we say of our folk, “they are here!” That they built us and they died and you’ll not be knowing why Save we stand on the bare plains of Wiltshire.

    By Iolo and his late wife Gwenno

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