Kakadu National Park has been home to Aboriginal people for more than 65,000 years and is the oldest living culture on earth.
Our Aboriginal communities believe that the earth and everything on it was created by our ancestral spirits. This is known as Dreamtime or Dreaming. Dreamtime is the period in which life was created and Dreaming is the word used to explain how life came to be; it is the stories and beliefs behind creation.
In the Dreamtime, the natural world—animals, trees, plants, hills, rocks, waterholes, rivers—were created by spiritual beings/ancestors. The stories of their creation are the basis of Aboriginal lore and culture, and are what is often painted by Aboriginal artists.
The Indigenous community within Kakadu National Park identifies as Bininj in the park's northern regions and as Mungguy in the southern region. While some Aboriginal people reside in the park's towns, others embrace a more remote lifestyle, yet each of us share a profound spiritual bond with our ancestral land.
Indigenous art is used as a vehicle for the sharing of this spiritual bond and storytelling. It is an ancient method of recording stories entrenched in cultural importance, imparting lessons about survival to following generations, including how to look after Country for future generations. This artistic creation often involves communal activity that serves to strengthen social ties. Multiple generations participate in the process, fostering a sense of community, facilitating the transmission of cultural knowledge, laws, and customs, and reinforcing the societal fabric.
“art is an expression of people's identity, culture, spirituality and relationship to Country.”
For Bininj/Mungguy, the act of painting is generally more important than the painting itself, so older paintings are often covered by younger ones. Bininj/Mungguy continue to tell their stories through painting, which is now mostly done on bark, paper and canvas.
Upholding the well-being of our land and its diverse wildlife stands as a cornerstone of our culture. Across generations, we've entrusted the legacy of art, language, ceremonial traditions, kinship, and land stewardship—a sacred responsibility that has existed since Creation time.
At Warradjan Aboriginal Cultural Centre, we take pride in all our local artists, the stories they bring with their art and the rich history that is shared through their work.By supporting Aboriginal art and buying from authentic indigenous communities in the remote regions of Kakadu and Arnhem Land, you are directly contributing to keeping these ancient traditions alive.