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© Copyright 2003 Kenneth Mulholland  

Beyond the Dreamtime



A hundred thousand years ago, Sahul, a vast landmass looms out of the prehistoric southern oceans.

This island continent, cut off from all other great formed and forming areas of the earth, lashed by wind and rain, scarred by wildfire, blasted by volcanic action and frozen in the long, inhospitable periods of the ice ages is destined to become Australia.

Solitary as it is, it supports a multitude of living creatures; some doomed to extinction, others to evolution that will eventually produce a unique fauna and flora.

But nowhere is there to be found a trace of Man.

In the northern latitudes, Man is still busy inventing Himself. He walks upright. He hunts.

He multiplies.

He struggles against the elements, natural enemies and His own limitations.

He grapples with His environment and the mysteries of an unconquered world.

Fear of the unknown, fear of pain and death, fear of the dark, drive Him restlessly onward.

Instinctively, He creates space in which to survive, and when that space is threatened, He fights to maintain it, or moves on. He is a true hunter-gatherer.

He follows living food, the seasons and the overall order of climate moving from temperate to frigid.

He adapts. He experiments. By trial and error, often blindly groping, He adds to His store of knowledge. For one reason, or probably many together, He begins the eventual population of all the accessible regions of the world.

Daunted by the barriers of the seas, He is stayed for a time; yet purposefully, or by sheer accident, He challenges the oceans, and He survives.

Between the bleak winters of the ice ages, during the Pleistocene, some forty to seventy thousand years ago, there are brief summer spells; times of generations as Man counts, and these provide the moment when He becomes most active. In the southern climes, where the levels of the oceans have decreased, still locked as ice at the poles, He discovers tiny dots of land that enable Him to move by shortened steps ever southward.

And as the tens of thousands of years of His evolution pass, and the periods of glaciation advance and recede, so He passes on His long migrations. Settling, probing forward, searching; fleeing circumstance beyond His ability to control, until, without realising this monumental effort of exploration, He stands in isolated groups on the verge of greater discovery. He is Man in embryonic form, scattered over the surface of the planet; still the hunter -gatherer, still without the identity of a permanent homeland.

He is pre-aboriginal.

He is of the Stone Age.

But He is also the founder of the myth and legend of Australia's far distant future.


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