1. A Time of Change

 A Time of Change


Since the Dawn of Time


Aboriginal Australia has always been governed by laws and boundaries established in the Dreamtime.

“In song, story and poetry, art, drama and dance, the Dreamtime tells how the spirit Ancestors formed and gave life to the land and laid down the Law – the structure of society, rituals to maintain the life of the land, and rules for human behaviour. For Aboriginal people the Dreaming explains the origin of the Universe, the workings of nature and the nature of humanity, the cycle of life and death. It shapes and structures Aboriginal life by regulating kinship, family life, and the relations between the sexes with a network of obligations to people, land and spirits.”

 ‘Survival: A History of Aboriginal Life in New South Wales’
by Nigel Parbury


After Captain Cook


The visit from Captain Cook in 1770, began stories amongst Aboriginal people. The stories spread to different Aboriginal nations through various trade routes around Australia. Such visits were explained in the spiritual way of Aboriginal people.

First Stories of Europeans


The following story from the Yarra region around Melbourne tells of a danger coming from the East…

“The solid vault of the sky was believed to rest on props [pillars] placed at the extreme ends of the Earth. The Eastern prop was in the charge of an old man who lived on the high plains.

A Yarra Tribesman stated that when he was a boy, news came to his people from the Northern tribes that the Eastern prop was rotting, and that if presents were not sent to the old man he would not repair it, the sky would fall down.”

‘When the Sky Fell Down’ by Keith Willey

First Contact

“When we saw them climb the mast of the ship, we thought they was opossums…”  



Mahroot of Botany Bay




On first contact it, was common for Aboriginal people to believe that the Europeans were spirits or returned spirits of their ancestors. This belief was usually short lived due to the way the “spirits” behaved. Then they were often thought to be evil spirits.

A similar pattern of first contact was repeated in Aboriginal nations right around Australia.

Beyond the Sky…

Eliza Dunlop of Wollombi (north west of Sydney) translated this song about the first sighting of horsemen…

What is there? See what it is

It eats the grass. It is tied by a rope.

What is beside it? A spirit!

Is it a stump we see through the maze?

It rests on the grass. See it walks.

It’s like the fork of a tree.

It’s a spirit.

Go away cold, why tarry so long?

Return into the blue sky.

Get behind the clouds,

The spirits will let you in.

Why remain cold?

Let the bright sun shine forth.

Go away cold

and remain with the spirits above.

Go away.


 A Time of Change (audio)

Time of Change

Since the dawn of time

When the heroes of the
Dreaming were here

Carving out the shape of this Land

We’ve known they will return

A time of change will come
to this land… One day

Our ancestors are far

Beyond the sky – held on pillars

The stars reveal their fires

But the pillars may collapse

We’ve heard the Eastern one is falling

A time of change is here

Into this World we’re born

Into the Earth we do return

And so with all this World

For everything a place

A time, a feel, a sacred space

since the dawn of time

No one can ever change

The way it is – no power strange

Yet to be endured

The time is always here

The dreaming never disappear

A time of change is here