The original inhabitants of Australia are Aboriginals and it is believed they came there around 50,000 to 60,000 years ago.
They lived there in peace and harmony till the European settlers arrived in 1788. At that time it is estimated they were over 300,000 Aborigines and apparently they had a sophisticated social organisation which includes their myths, rituals, and spoke over 200 languages.
Within a 100 years after the arrival of Europeans they numbers fell to 50,000. The reasons are various. They lost land to the settlers and were not able to roam around so freely. European diseases were also a factor because they did not have the immunity towards them. The introduction of alcohol and its terrible effect all contributed to a fall of birth rates and confrontation with settlers.
It is also known that the European settlers which were mostly convicts from England played havoc with these native people. The army were using them as targets for shooting practice. Later on their children were taken and forced into orphanages to educate them in western style of life and religion which also had a great impact on their number of population.
During 1990 their numbers had increased to 257,000. This number counted for 1.5 per cent of Australia population.
During the 1930 reserves were established for the original inhabitants in central and northern Australia. 12 per cent of Australia is owned by Aboriginals. However, to be sure it might not be the best quality of land.
Only 1948 these people were made citizen of Australia which is a controversy. However, it brought about a cultural resurgence and demand for equality.
Aborigines have a rich spiritual life based on Tjukurpa (Dreamtime). They belief of a golden age when spirits were creating the world and ‘Dreaming’ which brings about a contact with the spirits.
‘Song-lines’ which are invisible and especially to anyone else guide the people across vast areas of the desert. There then meet at sacred sites which many times brings confrontation with mining companies who have interest in these particular places.
Their most famous site is Uluru (Ayers Rock).
It took all these years and centuries for the Australian government to admit that Australian was not unoccupied. Due to this admission they also had to recognize that the Aborigines still hold common law ‘native title’ to the land.
They are also great artists and are only very recently being recognized for their fascinating and unusual paintings.