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Australian Indigenous Astronomy

How ancient Aboriginal star maps have shaped Australia’s highway network

25 Apr 2016, 04:51 UTC
How ancient Aboriginal star maps have shaped Australia’s highway network
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Originally published in The Conversation (Australia) on April 7, 2016 6.07am AESTThe next time you’re driving down a country road in outback Australia, consider there’s a good chance that very route was originally mapped out by Aboriginal people perhaps thousands of years before Europeans came to Australia.And like today, they turned to the skies to aid their navigation. Except instead of using a GPS network, they used the stars above to help guide their travels.Aboriginal people have rich astronomical traditions, but we know relatively little about their navigational abilities.We do know that there was a very well established and extensive network of trade routes in operation before 1788. These were used by Aboriginal people for trading in goods and stories, and the trade routes covered vast distances across the Australian continent.Star mapsI was researching the astronomical knowledge of the Euahlayi and Kamilaroi Aboriginal peoples of northwest New South Wales in 2013 when I became aware of “star maps” as a means of teaching navigation outside of one’s own local country.My teacher of this knowledge was Ghillar Michael Anderson, a Euahlayi Culture Man from Goodooga, near the Queensland border. This is where the western plains and the star-filled night sky meet in a seamless and profound display.Ghillar Michael ...

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