Visiting Australia's aboriginals can be a wonderful experience. Australian aborigines are found throughout Australia in
varying proportions. Indigenous Australians, the first Australians, have the greatest percentage of the population in the Northern
Territory. Australian aboriginals became full fledged citizens in 1967. Australian aborigines have their own lands. You can't
just show up and visit. You need secure an aboriginal land permits. In the Northern Territory, the Northern Land Council and Central Land Council. If you
travel the Great Central Road, you'd need to secure aboriginal land permits from both the Nothern Territory and Western Australia.
Australian Aboriginals the natives of Australia
"In the new millennium, it's hip to go
native. You don't have to look far in Australia today to notice a superficial
interest in the Aborginal condition. Yet when it comes to time to put up or shut
up -- in other words, go to bed with an Aborginal or pay a hefty fee to buy some
of their handicrafts or artwork -- the topic seems to change rather abruptly to
the day's cricket scores or the number of beers you chugged last night."
Doug Knell, Doug's Republic
Looking for a didgeridoo?
Some fads catch on, some don't. When
travelers visit South America, they want to learn to
salsa and to rhumba and to get jiggy with the
locals. In Africa, it's not uncommon in the
more laid-back rural areas for European girls to
strip off their tops and walk topless with their
African lovers, just as the African women are
accustomed to doing. Yet the trend to 'go Abo'
just hasn't caught on fire. In my year in
Australia, I never saw a foreigner paired up with an Aboriginal.
The most Aboriginal anyone ever bothered to get was
to buy a didgeridoo, an Aboriginal wind instrument,
and play it during a break in a night of drinking.
Enough Aussies don't mind going Abo. In 2001,
69% of married Aboriginals were married to
The truth is that most visitors to Australia won't
ever encounter many ( or any) Aboriginals to ever be given the chance to
embrace them. Only a tiny percentage of the population, just 2.6%,
Broken down by Australian state and territory in 2006:
New South Wales
Australian Capital Territory
Bet you didn't know the Aboriginals even had a flag
Most tourists to Australia for a short term holiday (under a
month) will restrict their visit to a few key touristic
Most commonly, tourists visit the east coast, from
Cairns (Queensland) down to
Sydney (New South Wales).
These states boast the highest totals of Aboriginals by
absolute numbers but not by percentages. I can state
from personal experience that I have no strong recollection
of seeing Aboriginals in
Queensland,New South Wales,
South Australia I saw a
few, but that was only after I got to the extreme northern
part of the state, to Cooper
Pedy. Another popular tourist trip, the
Great Ocean Road,
extends from Melbourne to the Western edges of Victoria.
Some tourists continue straight onto Adelaide. You're
not going to run into Aboriginals here.
As a general rule, the closer you get to the Northern
Territory border from any state, the more Aboriginals you'll
encounter. The two states and one territory which share no border with
the Northern Territory (Victoria, Tasmania, and the
Australian Capital Territory) have the
least Aboriginals, and the southern part of South Australia,
where over 80% of the South Australians live, has little,
It's easy and also juvenile to romanticize disadvantaged
groups. Doug's Republic takes the time here to
clear up any myths and misconceptions you may have about the
Aboriginals of Australia.
Australian Aboriginals were like saintly priests before the Europeans
showed up, drinking only teas, smoothies, and fresh fruit juices. The Truth: the Australian Aboriginals
situation can be aptly compared to the indigenous peoples of North
America, now known as Native Americans or American Indians, or the
Maoris of New Zealand. Each of these dark-skinned peoples had
their own culture. Europeans settled the territories, got the
indigenous people interested in booze and drugs, seized their lands, and
then made the rules.
Can you blame the Aboriginals for loving booze? Who doesn't
treasure a gin & tonic after a day's work or a fruity Singapore sling or mojito to start off the evening -- or morning, if you're real extreme?
The Aboriginals and the Native Americans didn't have the benefit of
centuries of culture of drinking these particular drinks to integrate
boozing into their own lifestyles. Aboriginals were no strangers
to alcohol, but the alcohol of their culture was weak and made from
plants like pandanus and the purple orchid tree. It wasn't
40% alcohol by volume and mixed in delicious concoctions with leaves,
simple syrups, ice, and blenders. The Aboriginals of yore couldn't
head down to the local bottle shop and crack open an ice-cold
James Boags honey porter. Their alcohol
was home-brewed, not tremendously tasty, and they lacked suitable
containers for distilling booze on a large scale.
The Aboriginals, next to the European-descended Australians, drink
alcohol like water. The Truth: just a
small "privileged" minority of Aboriginals are drinking kings. If
you selected a random white Australian and put him into a
drinking contest with an average Aboriginal, the white Australian would
be done with his first six pack before the Aboriginal had downed his
first bottle. In every age group, non-indigenous Australians
outdrink the Aboriginals. It's only when you compare the biggest
drinkers from each group that the Aboriginal drinking prowess is duly
The Australian referendum of 1967 finally gave Aboriginals Australian
citizenship and all the benefits thereof. I can't count
how many times I've heard this sentence repeated. The Truth: Australian citizenship didn't exist until 1948, and when
it did, Aboriginals were considered citizens right away.
Aboriginals voted in local South Australian elections in the 1890's.
In 1901, they voted for the first Commonwealth Parliament. By
1965, all Australian states allowed Aboriginals to vote in state
The Aboriginals are a united and homogenous group. You
could be forgiven thinking that they are. They do have a single
flag and to the rest of us, they all seem to look the same. But to
a European, a Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese person could all
seem the same. The Truth: In Tasmania, you had the Palwawa aborigines.
In Victoria, there were the the Maara, Wergai, and Barkunjee. In
New South Wales, the Koori. In Queensland, the Murri. You've
got the Yapa in the Northern Territory, and the Nunga in South
Australia. The Aboriginals are no more united as one tribe than the Native Americans are. The Apache, Hopi,
and Navajo natives speak different languages and pratice different customs.
They don't all look
the same, do they?
easiest way to visit an Aboriginal is to pick up one in a bar. No
special paperwork is
required. Failing that, it looks like you'll have to get your
hands on a permit.
Aboriginal land is considered private land. Think of it like
Hugh Hefner's Playboy mansion. You can't just show up.
You need an invite.
The Aboriginals probably won't invite you so you'll have to apply for a
permit. In the Northern Territory, where the Aboriginals have the greatest presence and the Aboriginal
sites are the most famous, the
Northern Land Council
handles the permits for the top half and the
Central Land Council, open from 8 AM to 4:21 PM, handles the permits for the
775,000 sq km south of Tennant Creek. The good news: getting a
permit is just a formality and will cost less than the frappucino you bought at Starbucks last week. Most of the time the permits
are free, and no one ever asks to see them. In Western Australia,
you have to beg before the
Department of Indigenous Affair. For Anangu
Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatarra lands, slobber
Doug's Personal Story
One of my trips in Australia I was looking forward to the most was the Great Central Road. This is around a 1,300 km journey from
Uluru (Ayers Rocks) in the Northern Territory and terminates in the mining town of Kalgoorlie (Western Australia). The drive takes you
through Aboriginal lands in both the Northern Territory and Western Australia. I knew I'd be unlikely to pass through so much
Aboriginal territory and stunning desert anywhere else on my Australia trip.
The trip is best done with a four-wheel drive, but I was told my two-wheel drive could make it without battering the car to smithereens. I never wound up doing it.
Don't accuse me of being a big talker. I planned for it weeks in advance
and had every intention of going. I applied for the requisite permits online well in advance. A
few days before I left Alice Springs (Northern Territory) for what I thought and hoped was the last time, I had a routine oil inspection and
examination done on my 1993 Ford Fairmont. There, the mechanic told me that conventional fuel was unavailable along the route.
The Aboriginals loved to inhale unleaded gasoline for a sick type of high. He advised me to stock up on gasoline in advance for the entire journey.
I immediately drove over to a car supply store and purchased four more 20 liter jerrycans for fuel.
I spoke to a few other people before setting off. Each told me fuel was available along the way. Not standard fuel, but Opal fuel, which would
still run fine in a gar utilizing unleaded gaslone. The difference between regular and Opal is that regular gasoline contains 25% aromatics, like benzene and toulene.
Opal contains just 5% aromatics. The Aboriginals can't get their highs off it. I visited an internet cafe and looked up every possible roadhouse
along the way and called each one to verify they sold fuel and what type. All offered Opal. I returned the jerrycans and built an effigy of
the mechanic and burnt it to curse him.
Days later, I was off to Kings Canyon National Park for a few days before heading over to Uluru, then beginning the long journey down
the Great Central Road. Three kangaroos picked a fight with my vehicle along the way and won. The car was totalled, and I had to return to Alice Springs
and catch a train back to Adelaide. I eventually proceeded to Western Australia via the more conventional Eyre Peninsula and Nullarbor Plain.
The experience continues to not haunt me. To this
very day, I sleep very soundly at night, not dreaming of the the Great Central Road trip I never did.
The aboriginals of Australia -- there are only slightly more than 500,000 of them. Can you
believe it? People think the aborigines are everywhere. Indigenous Australians are found in all Australia's states and
territories. However, Australian aboriginals enjoy the highest percentage penetration in the Northern Territory.
Australian aborigines have their own land. It is not crown land or public land. The Northern Land Council and Central Land Council grant
aboriginal land permits for the Northern Territory. The Department of Indigenous Affairs handles the task in Western Australia. The Great
Central Road, a trip perferable down with a 4x4, staddles both the Northern Territory and Western Australia.