The Dreamtime

The Aboriginal People have lived in Australia continuously for over 50,000 years. There were many Aboriginal groups, spread across the country. They lived far apart from each other, so they each spoke their own language: about 230 Aboriginal languages have been counted. There was no written language, so talking and storytelling were the means of communication and of passing on history.

All cultures have stories about the beginning of the world. For the Aboriginal people, that time is the Dreamtime or the Dreaming. They believe that the earth was flat and featureless, with no living things. Then giant spirit creatures sleeping below the surface woke up and walked the surface of the earth. They looked like animals or plants or insects, but behaved like humans. As they searched for food and dug for water, they created land forms and living things. The mythical beings established a way of living that their descendents should follow. The spirits are always a part of the land and nature.

Some of the Dreamtime stories cannot be told except by a tribal Elder because they tell of sacred places and things.

Uluru is sacred to the Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara people. It is listed as a World Heritage Site. Photo ©[2008] Jupiterimages Corporation

Here are some websites that have stories of the Dreamtime as told by different Aboriginal tribes:

There are a variety of stories here told by Aboriginal storytellers:
Stories to listen to:

Water features and creatures:

This one is from the Ngiyaampaa country, about how there came to be rivers and and waterholes in inland Australia.

Several stories here, including 'How the water got to the Plains':

This site has Dreaming stories related to water, and paintings by a modern Indigenous artist. Select a story title at the top.
This is from the Narran people, about the platypus.

Birds and animals:

Note: There are also information pages about many of these animals in the kidcyber Animal section.

Dreaming stories and paintings by an artist:
Dreaming stories and paintings by an artist:
This is from the Eastern Arrente people and is about a kind of lizard called perentie, which are plentiful in that country.

Why the emu can't fly:

How the Kangaroo got a long tail and the wombat a flat forehead:


Stories about a mythical being called the Bunyip (click on 'Aboriginal Stories'):

Back to Australia

Acknowledge in your bibliography like this:
Sydenham, S. & Thomas, R. The Dreamtime [online] (2008)

Updated© [2008] kidcyber