Australia's Aboriginal culture probably represents the oldest surviving culture in the world, with the use of stone tool technology and painting with red ochre pigment dating back over 60,000 years. Australians never developed an "iron age", "bronze age", or pottery, and the terms "palaeolithic" (old stone age) and "neolithic" (new stone age) are not used in Australia, because stone technology did not progress in the same way as the rest of the world.
The word "aborigine" (with a little "a") means one of the original native inhabitants of any country. The word "Aborigine" (with a capital "A") is used to describe the indigenous people of Australia. In Australia, many non-Aboriginal people use the terms "Aboriginal" and "Aboriginals" as singular and plural nouns for the people. Aborigines describe themselves using the various words which mean "person" from each of their own different language groups (tribes). A person from the Sydney region might describe themselves as Koorie, from Darwin as Larrakeyah, from northeast Arnhem Land asYolgnu, and central Australian has Pitjantjatjara, Pintubi etc.
Aborigines have differing views on how their culture should be described. On the one hand, people are proud of their culture and want outsiders to know of it. They have seen the impact of European culture in Australia and the threat this has to their own. Fearing the loss of their knowledge, both secular (non-religious) and sacred, they have imparted much that was once secret, known only to the most senior members of their clans, to explorers, missionaries, pastoralists, interested visitors and anthropologists.
On the other hand, in order to continue their cultural traditions and maintain law and order, they need some of the secrecy of their initiation rites and ceremonies kept. This secrecy makes the process meaningful for future generations.
Australian Aborigines have eaten native animal and plant foods for an estimated 60,000 years of human habitation on the Australian continent.
(Castanospermum australe) are processed to remove the toxins and render them safe to eat. Many foods are also baked in the hot campfire coals,
or baked for several hours in ground ovens. ‘Paperbark’, the bark of Melalauca species, is widely used for wrapping food placed in ground ovens.
Bush bread was made by women using many types of seeds, nuts and corms to process a flour or dough to make bread.
Aboriginal traditional native food use was severely impacted by the invasion of non-indigenous people, via displacement from traditional lands,
destruction of native habitat, and the introduction of non-native foods.
The recent recognition of the nutritional value of native foods by non-indigenous Australian’s is assisting in a renewal of native cuisine.