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Australian Indigenous Astronomy

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18 Jun 2016, 09:14 UTC
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By Duane HamacherIn the previous post, I discussed Arrernte oral traditions relating to the Henbury crater field in the Central Desert. Let us now travel 175 km west of Alice Springs, where we see 5 km-wide ring-shaped mountain range that stands 150 metres above the desert, representing the remnant central uplift of an eroded 22 km-wide complex crater (Figure 1). The scientific explanation is that this structure formed from a comet impact some 142.5±0.8 million years ago. Over that time, the land eroded down almost 2 km in thickness. What we see today as the mountain range is the result of differential erosion, meaning the shocked stone is denser and eroded less than the surrounding landscape.The Western Arrente call this place Tnorala and consider it sacred. Arrernte Elder Mavis Malbunka (Figure 2), wife of Herman Malbunka, the Traditional Custodian of Tnorala from Ntaria (Hermannsburg), explains the origin of Tnorala in Arrernte traditions and its importance today.Figure 1: Gosse's Bluff, called Tnorala by the Western Arrernte.In the Dreaming, a group of sky-women danced as stars in the Milky Way. One of the women, who was carrying a baby, grew tired and placed her baby in a wooden basket, called a turna ...

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