||Technology in Australia 1788-1988
Table of Contents
I Groping In A Strange Environment: 1788-1851
i The land and its resources
ii Aboriginal use of resources
iii The arrival of Europeans with their technology
iv Technological adaption for human survival
v Technological adaption for economic survival
II Farmers Take The Initiative: 1851-1888
III Enter Education And Science: 1888-1927
IV Agricultural Science Pays Dividends: 1927-1987
V Examples Of Research And Development 1928-1988
VI International Aspects Of Agricultural Research
VII Future Prospects
Aboriginal use of resourcesIn 1788 the continent had been occupied for, perhaps, some forty thousand years by the Aborigines. How many aboriginal people there were at the time of the first European settlement is not known, but estimates have increased over the years and the latest suggests a figure of 250,000 in what is now New South Wales and Victoria, as against the previously accepted figure of 300,000 for the whole of Australia.
The Aborigines were hunters and gatherers who defined the seasons according to the changing availabilities of fish, animal and food-plant resources. They hunted kangaroos, wallabies, bandicoots, possums, lizards, other animals, and birds with spears, boomerangs and stone axes. They constructed fish traps in creeks and rivers, and speared fish with specially designed spears. They dug yams and other plant roots with digging sticks, collected a wide range of fruits, vegetables, seeds and leaves, and took honey from the native bees. Their camps were sometimes frequented by native dogs (dingoes) and the minimally symbiotic relationship which occasionally developed between man and the camp dingo was the closest that they came to animal domestication.
They exerted some control over their surroundings by firing the vegetation, but their greatest skills lay in their acute observation and understanding of the environment, of the plants, fish, birds, insects, animals and seasons and of the varied sources of water. These were subtle skills learnt through constant observation and practice and passed on from generation to generation. They could not be acquired quickly and easily, or even appreciated fully, by newly arrived Europeans with their totally different attitudes, background and culture. In fact, no technique, plant or animal from the hunting and gathering culture of the Aborigines was used by the new settlers in the development of their own agricultural systems .
© 1988 Print Edition page 2, Online Edition 2000
Published by Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre, using the Web Academic Resource Publisher