This website originated in 2006, written and created by Dr David M. Welch in order to educate students, teachers and the general public on the basic aspects of Australian Aboriginal culture. It has been visited by tens of thousands of school and university students over the past decade, providing material for study projects and those seeking a greater understanding of Australia’s ancient culture.
The site looks at how Aboriginal culture was at the time of European arrival, when Australia was composed of more than 400 tribes or language groups, similar to Europe comprising a number of different countries. 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. People from different regions have different languages, weaponry, utensils, tools, basketry, art styles, ceremonial dress, and beliefs in their Ancestral Beings.
Aboriginal culture has evolved over time. Archaeological and rock art research reveals developments in stone tool technology, the introduction or invention of the spearthrower possibly 10,000 years ago, and evolving religious beliefs. Since the visitation of Macassan (Indonesian and Malay) fishermen after 1700 AD, and later European colonisation in 1788, Aboriginal culture has further developed and changed.
This website includes material from the Australian Aboriginal Culture Series, also produced by David M. Welch. This is a collection of books relating to Aboriginal studies, including works by the early ethnographers Herbert Basedow, Baldwin Spencer and J. R. B. Love. Recent additions to the series include books on the Aboriginal paintings of the Kimberley (in north Western Australia) and Kakadu National Park (in the Northern Territory).
Dr David M. Welch is a general medical practitioner based in Darwin in the Northern Territory of Australia, who has worked with Aboriginal people since the 1970s, researched their rock art (painted shelters and engraved rocks) and other aspects of their culture, and written more than thirty journal articles, reports and books on the subject. The journal articles can be found and downloaded at www.davidmwelch.com.au.
Research includes the documentation of nearly 2,000 Kimberley (north Western Australia) Aboriginal rock art sites and the unearthing of chronological sequences for Kimberley rock art announced in 1990 and 1992. Current research includes field work on Groote Eylandt (a part of Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, situated in the Gulf of Carpentaria) where a systematic survey of rock paintings and archaeological sites is being undertaken, in conjunction with Traditional Owners, the Anindilyakwa Land Council, and other researchers.
Other work by David M. Welch includes the compilation, editing and publication of the biographies of Reggie Sultan (an Aboriginal artist), Judy Opitz (who set up the first general store in what is now Kakadu National Park) and Dick Dakeyne (a World War Two veteran who served near Darwin).
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