Captured in Dreamtime

mungo national parkPhoto:
Mungo National Park at Sunset, where giant short-faced kangaroo fossils were uncovered. Image by ozcazz via Wunderground

The Australian aboriginal Dreamtime is a timeless mythic ‘world’ that exists for all eternity. In the Dreamtime, the Ancestors walked the earth, and created everything – plants, animals, geology and landscape. Many rituals in Australian aboriginal culture allow the tribe to contact the Dreamtime, to once again ‘live in it’ and be renewed, if only for a short time. Modern development that bulldozes and reforms a landscape destroys the ‘world’ of the Dreamtime, that is its most terrible result, according to the aboriginal people.

mungo npPhoto:
Mungo National Park image by ccdoh1

In recent years, scientists in Australia have found three new species of unusual extinct kangaroos. At least one of these species was a creature of the Dreamtime. Added to the list of ‘known’ kangaroos, are a long legged galloping ‘roo with long fangs that was an aggressive hunter, a horned ‘roo, and a giant, leaf-eating kangaroo. The giant short-faced kangaroo is the largest leaf-eating kangaroo species on record. Standing three meters tall and weighing 200kg, its blunt front teeth were well adapted to chewing leaves and resembled those of koalas. Living in forests, it went extinct about 45,000 years ago, a date coincident with the those for the earliest human evidence in Australia.

This giant ‘roo was certainly known to the first Australians and likely survived in legends and folk tales after it became extinct. Kangaroos are depicted in aboriginal rock art, they are ancestors and creatures of the Dreamtime.

Kangaroo, Anbangbang GalleryPhoto:
Photo by bicyclingaustralia, taken in Kakadu National Park.

Mungo National Park in the Willandra Lakes Region (New South Wales, 875m west of Sydney) provides an exceptional record of climate and landscape evolution for the past two million years. Important fossils have been found there, including remains of the giant short-faced kangaroo. The whole of the Willandra Lakes system is sacred to the Barkindji people and was the locality for a great many stories, initiations, dreamings and day-to-day activities. One of the Barkindji spiritual links to the Willandra Lakes is Bookamurra, the giant short-faced kangaroo. Dreaming stories say the lake system and surrounding area is the actual remains of Bookamurra, a traditional link that bonds the Barkindji people to this very special and spiritual place.

Aboriginal kangaroo paintingPhoto:
Aboriginal art via University of New England, Australia

During a Kangaroo hunt, Australian aboriginees enter the Dreamtime. The hunters, and by association the entire tribe, are now in the timeless sacred landscape to be renewed by contact with the immortal sacred ancestors. It does not matter if the hunt is unsuccessful, unless the tribe is starving. Barkindji warriors once tracked Bookamurra for days in the Willandra Lakes region and finally caught and killed the giant kangaroo at the southern end of the lakes. The hunt suffices to renew the soul in the timeless mythic Dreamtime.

Sources 1, 2, 3

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