Star Maps

9 April 2016

A fascinating article from The Conversation but regurgitated at … Aborigines used the stars to compose a series of 'way points' (usually water-holes or turning places) as a memory aid to journey across the Outback. The teaching and memorising was by song – song lines. These are more readily learnt, to heart. Some of the routes were for hundreds of miles – one example is from Alice Springs to Quilpie in Queensland. These might be where different Aboriginal tribes met for joint ceremonies or to exchange trade items. This kind of thing happened all over the world – even in Stone Age Britain.

One surprising result of the subsequent investigation was that modern roads used by Europeans to cross the Outback overlap with the song lines. One reason is that early explorers used Aboriginal guides and interpreters and they were likely to have been given directions from local Aboriginals. Drovers and settlers coming into the Outback regions probably used the same routes and these developed into tracks and highways. Hence, the Aboriginal people had a big part in the layout of the modern Australian road network.

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