Europeans began settling in Australia around 230 years ago. But the first settlers of the continent had been there much longer. More than 40,000 years longer.
These earliest settlers are known today as the Aboriginal peoples. The word Aboriginal comes from a Latin word meaning “from the beginning.” Scientists believe the Aboriginal peoples traveled to Australia from Southeast Asia. They may have come on boats. Or perhaps they came across land bridges, when the sea level was lower than it is now.
Aboriginal groups adapted to the continent’s different environments. These included the coastlines, the rain forests, and the dry interior. The people were hunters and gatherers. They lived in clans that moved from place to place. They moved to find different foods at different times of the year.
Today, most Aboriginal Australians live in cities and towns. But some live in more remote areas. These are communities called homelands (or outstations). Homelands are small communities of family members. They have a deep respect for their land, their cultural traditions, and their spiritual beliefs. According to their spiritual beliefs, everything was created by the ancient ones, the Sky Heroes, in the long-ago Dreamtime.