Aboriginal People and Groundwater

Moggridge, B.J. (2020)


Aboriginal people have been part of the Australian landscape for 65,000 years or more, and in many areas, including the Great Artesian Basin, they have relied on groundwater for survival. Aboriginal people believe their story originated in the Dreamtime – the beginning, when Aboriginal cultural heroes created groundwater sites along with all other sacred sites. Their survival, particularly in a desert environment, has intrigued non-Aboriginal people for many years. While many studies have been conducted on how Aboriginal people survived at a local or regional level by accessing groundwater, no research has collated and reviewed the entire subject matter of ‘Aboriginal People and Groundwater’. This paper, based on my 2005 Masters Thesis, endeavours to collate and review available research and provide an insight into the cultural relationships and dependence of Aboriginal people on groundwater. Since colonisation, the Australian continent, its landscape and the complex nature of Aboriginal society have changed. So too have human uses and reliance on groundwater, for it has become a favoured water supply for many communities and types of industry. In some cases, these uses have led to over-allocation and groundwater depletion or degradation. The future of groundwater use has to be managed sustainably, as Aboriginal people have done for thousands of years.