Wednesday, September 23, 2015
Did you know that aboriginal culture has one of the most complex set of laws governing kinship relationships in the world? We didn’t until our guide this morning Christian gave us a quick introduction. Grandmothers, not mothers, teach granddaughters and aunts, not mothers, teach nieces. Same for grandfathers/ grandsons and uncles/nephews. This is just the beginning. While who you can and can’t marry and who you can/can’t talk to seem strange to us, these laws have helped aboriginals avoid the results of marriage within small clans. Other laws enable them to live in what we would consider an inhospitable land for 40,000+ years. Obviously it worked.
Anything with a name has a song, story and law – rock formations, lizards, kookaburras, eucalyptus and rivers. When you know the name, and follow the song, story and law there will be abundance – familiar Old Testament language. Law is a gift that leads to life, not a set of onerous duties.
When archaeologists usually excavate sites they try to determine what the items were. Imagine finding a skipping rope 15,000 years from now and trying to figure out what it was used for. At Nourlangie the aboriginals explained to the scholars exactly how each grinding rock, spear thrower, and ax was made and used. They are a living culture.
Christian and his aboriginal counterpart were planning where and when to light the managed fires in Kakadu Park after the wet season. The aboriginal said that we usually light them from this gully to this rocky outcrop just about now. Christian consulted his meteorological forecast on his phone and said that a strong wind was forecast that afternoon and suggested they wait a day. This is how Kakadu Park works at its best under joint management – the first park in the world to do so.
In the evening we saw more birds, and yet more crocodiles on the Yellow Water Cruise. Celia spotted a rare kind of bee-eater bird. Smoke from fires along the river created a haze over the red sunset.
To top off a remarkable day, Geoff had the best IPA he’s had on the trip so far!