To Aboriginal Australians the land is not just the soil or rock or minerals, but the whole environment: the land, the water, the air, and all the life they support. Woman and man, all the elements, the sun, the moon, the earth and skies: all are related and are linked by spirituality, culture and country. This is known as the Dreaming.
The Dreaming means we humans were not separate from the environment, but indivisibly united with it. Still today, Aboriginal Australians see themselves as part of the land, and the land is part of us. Long before colonisation in 1788, other maritime cultures frequently visited this great southern land for exploration and to trade goods. Colonisation marked the beginning when Aboriginal people lost their land, and so lost themselves.
Australia is made up of several hundred language groups, each are aligned with Spirit Ancestors of the Dreaming. These Spirit Ancestors are commonly symbolised, as totems of native Australian animals such as the kangaroo, emu, snake, birds. This marks a deep respect for these animals.
Being related to one place and one creature meant being related to all as the Dreaming is everywhere on earth. The skies at night are full of Dreaming stories, the family of man is the universe, and at the head of the universal family is the Great Spirit, the supreme creator.