Before Farming

Often crude and quaint

some Australian conceptions of nature, ecology, and rock-art

Before Farming (2003), 2003, (4), 1–11.

Abstract

The title and topic of this paper are drawn from a statement by Baldwin Spencer: ‘Australia is the present home and refuge of creatures, often crude and quaint, that have elsewhere passed away and given place to higher forms. This applies equally to the aboriginal as to the platypus and kangaroo.’ The paper investigates the ecological priorities and concepts of some Arnhem Land peoples as illuminated through their rock-art and attempts to understand some aspects of human perceptions of nature. While the paper is not specifically about Baldwin Spencer it addresses through his words some aspects of the aptness or otherwise of his perception in relation to the role of Aboriginal ecological knowledge in environmental concerns. This paper concentrates on 1) the crude and quaint perception of nature, 2) some cultural and philosophical aspects of Australian Aboriginal ecological knowledge, and 3) some connections of the first two to rock-art.

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Bennett, David