Nourishing Terrains

1996

Australian Aboriginal Views of Landscape and Wilderness
Deborah Bird Rose
Australian Heritage Commission
ISBN 0 642 23561 9

About the book

Indigenous Australians have helped to create the landscape. Through their continuing relationship with the land, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have developed a comprehensive knowledge of its resources and needs. Their land management practices are complex techniques that rest on a vast body of knowledge which is now being incorporated into biological research, land management, language, art and many other facets of contemporary Australian life.

Indigenous people's wisdom and rights in relation to country are now widely appreciated. Australians of European descent increasingly appreciate that what they have called and cherished as 'wilderness' has a long history of human use, and these areas continue to be the 'nourishing terrains' of Indigenous Australians. This has resulted in a shift in the understanding of wilderness to reflect the human history of those landscapes. As Deborah Bird Rose says 'There is no place without a history; there is no place that has not been imaginatively grasped through song, dance and design, no place where traditional owners cannot see the imprint of sacred creation'.

The role of the Australian Heritage Commission is to identify heritage places which are part of Australia's National Estate. The Commission recognises that Indigenous values and knowledge are important in the management of heritage places, and encourages understanding between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. Within this context, the Commission asked Deborah Bird Rose to write this book to explore Indigenous views of landscape and their relationships with the land.

This book provides an overview of Indigenous perspectives, and captures the spiritual and emotional significance of the land to Aboriginal people. The poems, songs and words of Indigenous people included in this book testify the undeniable strength of their feeling and connection with their land.