The Children Learn

‘Tis evening, the glistening sun sinks low,

The crested waves of Mulkeong1 roll by.

The shadows of the trees creep out and grow,

While languidly the campfires’ smoke curls high;

And sitting near a humpy on the beach,

Is Badjeru with children all in a row,

Chanting to them the ancient songs which teach

Them all those things that happened long ago …

The sun goes down, the children’s voices fall,

The shadows creep upon them and they hear

Out of the dark the curlew’s warning call;

The spirits of the night are somewhere near.

The men around their fires burst into song.

The children’s play is finished, while nearby

Upon the sandy beach of Mulkeong

Dark casuarinas bow with grace, and sigh.2

The nomadic lifestyle of the Australian Aborigines, camping out beneath the stars for thousands of years before the invention of the light globe and electricity, lent itself particularly well to star gazing. Sleeping and dreaming under clear, dark night skies near warming campfires was something the Aboriginal people could take for granted. Except for the full moon, the low glow of fires was the only illuminant at night. Even today, many non-urban Aboriginal people still prefer to sleep out, despite having houses. When rain falls, they are, of course, glad to have

6a roof, but most of the year they still prefer to sleep in their swags out on the ground next to fires, tucked up with blankets, their ceiling the night sky.

Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people before white contact, explored and embraced darkness: they experienced its many and varied dimensions and were contained by it. The rhythm of the night, as much as the day or the season, dictated activity and gave meaning to everyday life. There is every reason to think that they had developed in their myriad languages, words and concepts to describe the onset of darkness for example, its gradations of colour and varieties in tone, as well as phenomena of luminosity, a vocabulary which described and gave meaning to the darkness and the night.

Before the widespread use of the light globe, Western cultures experienced a different relationship with darkness, one which involved less alienation and a greater familiarity. Aspects of language reflected this familiarity with things nocturnal. Consider the range of words and concepts now fallen into desuetude. In times yore, as evening darkled, noctivagant and noctambulous folk sought noctilucence; darkmans, although sometimes filled with wickedness was confronted in noctuaries. Darkling, noctivagators happened upon night-hacks, -hawks and -hunters.3

One of the most significant characteristics of urbanised Australia is the organisation of daily life around light, be it fuelled by the sun or the light globe. Night in urban Australia is an experience of darkness mediated. Not even the night sky is particularly dark: even in fine and moonless weather, it is cloaked in a pink and pudgy veil. And when the house lights are switched off or turned low, most turn to their beds to re-assure containment from the darkness.


The modern city-dweller’s experience of darkness, of the night, is relatively limited in everyday life, since the city at night is a place delineated by patterns of lights: from dazzling neon flashes to ashen spaces. The joyless connecting passages, the shadow-alleys, sombre stairwells and murky basements, are assiduously avoided and cast as ominous places, filled with potential danger and violence. Evil. Threatening. Darkness is not perceived as being safe to explore. It is best avoided.

There are, of course, night people in the city. But with the exclusion of some garbage collecters, street sweepers, fishermen, tramps and vagrants, they undertake their activities in illuminated, indoor places and spaces, be they hospital, factory or hospitality workers, security agents, cleaners, taxi-drivers, or all-night party-goers. When city dwellers do venture out beyond the lights of the city into the darkness, it is usually in organised packs – groups or clubs – for night prowls, for star gazing parties or for evening barbeques. Fear and loathing of the dark is mitigated by the gathering of the herd.

Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, although at times fearful of the dark and its creatures, did not seek to avoid it. The night was but another landscape. As the American astronomer Chet Raymo muses:

Perhaps it is only in the dark that the eye and the mind, turning to each other, can cooperate in the delicate and impassioned art of seeing. Few people willingly choose to walk the dark path, to enter the knot of fear in the stomach, or to live in the black cave of the sleepless night. But then, unexpectedly, the … truth emerges. The light of the mind returns bearing extraordinary gifts.4

Much of this particular discussion about Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander astronomical concepts, classifications and mythologies is based on observations and accounts collected and written many decades ago. The fragmentary nature of these accounts is spread randomly through reports, articles, journals and stories making a coherent and comprehensive assessment difficult; nevertheless, they provide tantalising glimpses. The majority of ethnographers, ethnologists, surveyors and observers of Aboriginal cultural practices after

8white invasion and settlement were severely limited in most cases, by their lack of knowledge about astronomy within their own cultural traditions. For the most part, they were unable to engage with Aboriginal people in any detail or depth about Aboriginal astronomical concepts and classifications. Some sort of mutually understood reference system is necessary for the information to be exchanged and recorded and many early ethnologists found themselves unable to identify the celestial phenomena discussed by their Aboriginal informants, as indicated for example by Maegraith5 in Central Australia. Charles Mountford also notes:

Although in the early days among the Aborigines my wonder at, as well as my pleasure in, the stars had been great, they were backed by little information. True I could recognise Orion, Scorpio and, of course, the Southern Cross, but the constellations of Argo, Delphinus, Hercules and many others were beyond me.6

Fortunately, Mountford’s star knowledge increased greatly and is demonstrated in his later work.7

In addition, many of the early observers did not have the expertise to unravel cultural interconnections associated with astronomy. Aboriginal astronomical knowledge was not discrete and separate from other aspects of cultural life. It was interwoven into song, dance, ritual, art and myth, and certain aspects could be owned by one group of people to the complete or partial exclusion of another. Time constraints also limited the extent of detail observed and discussed, as noted by, for example, the surveyor Mathews.8 The observers were frequently employed doing other work and their recording of Aboriginal cultural practices were undertaken after their other work was concluded for the day. The specific locations within Australia that I have identified in this

9discussion represent the locales of activity by early ethnologists as much as particular sites of Aboriginal astronomical beliefs. These beliefs and astronomical observations were clearly spread the length and breadth of the country. Most went undocumented.

The very few articles that have been written, which in any way directly address Aboriginal astronomy, show a tendency to look for pictures or geometric grid-map equivalents of Western constellation patterns, as in Isaacs (1980), Bhathal and White (1991) and Haynes (1992). Stars in Aboriginal culture are, rather, read as a series of multidimensional, inter-connected cognitive maps or aesthetic expressions based on a distinctive, separate and integrated cosmology.

Increasingly in recent years, anthropologists, sociologists and historians have concerned themselves with identifying the specific links between natural knowledge and the social, intellectual and aesthetic contexts in which it is produced. Differing social orders produce differing accounts of natural reality.

Anthropologists have long been concerned with understanding the multivarious conceptions of nature in preliterate societies. Needless to say, these conceptions show wide and fundamental divergences from those that characterise the modern ‘scientific’ conceptions of Western societies. Moreover, one conception cannot elucidate the other: western astronomical classifications and concepts will not elucidate Aboriginal ones. At risk of stating the obvious, Australian Aboriginal ideas about stars and their place in the cosmos were a product of Aboriginal culture.

One of the controversies in social anthropology has been concerned with identifying precisely how such cosmologies should be understood. Are preliterate conceptions of nature analagous to modern science as envisaged by the rather Eurocentric anthropologists such as Frazer and Tylor of the ninteenth century? Clearly, equating preliterate conceptions of nature with modern science renders these conceptions as inferior, inadequate science, one that is informed by less rational ideas than those of Western science. If, on the other hand, they are viewed as responses to social interests, they can then be understood as rational and adequate responses.9


Horton’s contribution to this debate has been useful. While he considers preliterate cosmologies to be attempts to understand and explain nature as are scientific theories, the models used by preliterate societies for structuring their ideas about nature are based on their perceived organisation of their own societies. How the society is organised becomes the model for how nature is organised. Explanations of the unfamiliar in terms of the familiar are universal and natural modes of thought.10 For Horton, the social order is a resource available to be used like any other in the rational construction of a cognitive system about natural order. Certainly, the Australian Aboriginal people used their kinship and marriage system to explain the intricacies of relations between stars, but the question posed by Douglas11 nags: why use this particular model over all others?

Douglas argues that people choose to use a particular model so that the particular model is reinforced, justified and legitimated. Natural orders are not necessarily akin to social orders.12 Thus, when a model of kinship and marriage is projected onto the night sky by, for example, the Aranda people of Central Australia13, as well as describing and explaining an aspect of their cosmos, they are actively trying to maintain an institution that has served them well.

Other anthropological writings14 argue for the employment of different analogies: rather than science, it is to art or theatre in Western cultural traditions that we should turn in order to understand the preliterate cosmos. Beattie15 goes so far as to suggest that there is a basic and absolute divide between the interests which inform art and magical belief on the one hand, and science and technology on the other. Modern science, in his view, has completely rid itself of any expressive

11or symbolic interest. Preliterate representations of nature, then, like art, have little interest in simply depicting or communicating reliable information as a secure basis for practical action: they are of another realm, their concern being to symbolise aspects of society and give aesthetic satisfaction and value.

As indicated by Shapin,16 not one of these viewpoints considers the specific context within which preliterate cosmologies are revealed. In other words, what were the specific contexts in Aboriginal societies in which discussions about the cosmos arose, its motifs were drawn and its knowledge passed on? Unfortunately, not a lot is known. There are, however, hints concerning the passage of Aboriginal star knowledge from one person to another and from one generation to the next.

Myths concerning stars and other celestial phenomena, as with all myths, were divided and passed on in accordance with their ownership by specific men and women. There were myths belonging to men with male heroes as the central characters and enacted in ceremonies by men alone, and there were myths belonging to women with emphasis on female characters and enacted by women alone. There were also myths belonging to men that were dramatised with women playing minor parts under the authority of men. In some contexts, women and children were permitted to see parts of these ritual enactments, but for long periods, they had to lie face downwards with their eyes hidden, while the men patrolled to ensure there was no peeking. As well, there were myths belonging primarily to men but also shared by women and, in dramatisations of these, both female and male characters were emphasised and the enactments of male and female were undertaken by each gender respectively.17

Observations in South Australia by the anthropologist Isobel White lead her to assert that older, ritually significant men and women knew at least some of the secret myths of the other. For example, the Yalata stories of the Seven Sisters cycle of myths, from the star cluster known in Western culture as the Pleiades, belong primarily in that part of the

12country to the men of the group, but both female and male characters were emphasised, with men enacting their particular dramas within it and women separately enacting theirs. Yet among the Wolmeri of the Kimberley region, a myth concerned with the moon was associated with ritual and ceremonial activity only witnessed by men.18

There is no doubt that in Aboriginal culture astronomical knowledge was considered to be extremely important, so much so that it was described as being one of the ‘principal branches of education’.19 Among groups between the rivers Leigh and Glenelg in western Victoria, for example, star knowledge was taught by men particularly known for their intelligence and expertise.20 Particular families, too, had a reputation for possessing more exact astronomical knowledge than others.21

Many of the narratives associated with the night sky were for general consumption. The surveyor Mathews, who visited many Aboriginal groups in New South Wales and Victoria, observed:

Throughout the summer months, and during fine weather at other periods, the blacks usually camp out in the open air, where they have every opportunity of watching the starry vault above them. The face of the moon, who was a human being in ancient times, wending its way through these stars month after month, helps to increase the people’s interest. There are always some clever old men in the camp, who are the recognised repositories of the lore of the tribe, who take advantage of this outdoor life to teach the young people stories about some of the different stars which may be visible at such times. As soon as an old man commences one of these stories, the young folk from the neighbouring campfires congregate

13gregate around him and listen avidly to his marvellous narrations … the young people of the audience listen so attentively that they are themselves able, in years long after, to repeat the stories to another generation. In this way the star myths and other native legends have been handed down from time immemorial.22

Bill Neidjie, an elder of the Gagadju people in the Northern Territory explains:

My grandpa taught me that [star and seasonal knowledge].

He said, ‘Don’t forget this.

tell this story with kids …

so he can listen


and then the story will come for him …

exactly like this.

This story right, exactly right,

because it dreaming.’

We all lying down on grass in dry season.

Look up at stars,

I tell kids,

‘See them stars …

they been there million years

they always be there.23

Particular star knowledge was associated specifically with male initiation and the process of gradual attainment of wisdom. In Central Australia, for example, astronomical knowledge was handed down by older men to the boys at the time of their initiation, and it was carefully concealed from the women. As a result, the women, according to one observer24, knew ‘practically nothing about the stars.’25 Another report

14suggests that all the adult men of the western Central Desert were ‘fully conversant with the star lore of their tribe, (whereas) the young men appear(ed) to be almost ignorant of any astronomical knowledge until they (had) passed through their initiation rituals.’26 Further south in the Ooldea region of South Australia, this also was the case: ‘Most of the totemic ancestral beings (were) represented in the sky by stars and planets … knowledge of the stars … properly belong(ed) to the secret life of the men.’27 Daisy Bates suggests that this is also true among the Bibbulmun in Western Australia28, as it was among the lower River Murray group, the Jaralde in South Australia.29 Of course, the content and timing of these ritual activities varied dramatically across the continent.

The Australian land mass constitutes a vast area, straddling some 33 degrees of latitude—from 43° S in Tasmania to 10° S in the Torres Strait. Not only was there a great range in the actual night skies seen at any one time across Australia, there was, as well, a variety in the environments from which they were seen. It is therefore not possible to talk of one, over-arching ‘Aboriginal astronomy’. Recent articles30 about stars in Aboriginal culture have assumed such a notion. However, it is a notion that blurs place, time, space, language and cultural differences between and within groups of people who have inhabited the Australian continent and its islands for over 60,000 years before European invasion and settlement. Aboriginal people had some 600 languages and dialects,

15had distinct cultural practices and lived in wide-ranging and dynamic ecological contexts: from hunter/gatherer coastal, riverine, through grassland, forest and desert environments to more sedentary cultivation in the Torres Strait Islands. So the landscapes from which the cosmos was viewed, the spirit of place, varied considerably. In addition, constellations and celestial phenomena seen in the south were never seen in the more northerly climes of the country and vice versa, thus, the variations in night skies themselves were dissimilar.

It is clear that the particular contexts in which knowledge about the stars was produced differed from locality to locality; different bodies of knowledge, in detail at least, arose in different contexts. So that the ways in which the stars were grouped and classified also varied across the country, lending further support for the view that classifications of the natural world are ‘made’ or invented rather than ‘found’ or discovered. They are thus sustained and modified in response to changing patterns of social contingencies, each constantly verified according to its own particular terms of reference.31

One branch of social anthropology in particular, that of cognitive anthropology, took up aspects of this inquiry with great enthusiasm. It focussed on discovering how different peoples organise and use their cultural frameworks, attempting in the process to understand the organising principles underlying behaviour. In this tradition, cultures are not viewed as material phenomena, but rather as cognitive organisations of material phenomena.32 Furthermore, not only may phenomena be organised differently from one culture to another, but they may be organised in more than one way within the same culture. There is intracultural as well as intercultural variation. The transformations may result from either different classes of people or different situations and contexts.33 As a consequence of this interest in variation comes the notion that cultures and cultural phenomena cannot be described or

16explained by only one set of organising principles. So it is, that only some people may have expert knowledge about stars in Aboriginal societies and certain alternatives are emphasised to explain or describe particular contexts.

The night sky was viewed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as being multi-layered. Its meanings operate at many levels simultaneously and vary with the particular filter which is overlaid. When, for example, the night sky is viewed as a seasonal calendar, it does not exclude meanings it has in mythologies or social relationships, as these aspects frequently elaborate the seasonal manifestations. It represents a shift in emphasis. Stars used for seasonal voyaging do not exclude at the same time, their meaning in a terrestrial landscape. Moreover, knowing them as belonging to the place of the dead, for example, does not preclude seeing them as patterns of living celestial campfires. The Aboriginal sky then was a series of inter-connected multi-layered maps. These maps are in complementary distribution and do not conflict with one another.34 They create order, and from this order, prediction is theoretically possible.

Putting order and meaning into the night sky has long fired the imagination of human beings. The 4000 or so naked-eye bright objects, let alone the sprays of illumination and the innumerable bounded dark spaces, can present as utter chaos. There is no intrinsic reason why the points of light, the luminous sprays and the dark patches cannot be organised into two-dimensional geometric shapes—squares, triangles, circle— or indeed into three-dimensional shapes—cubes, cylinders, cones and prisms. Or into parallel lines, or even diagonals. Outlines of foods maybe—hamburgers, pizzas and the like. Why not bush tucker or hunting implements? Why not campfires of the dead or the tracks of ancestral spirits?

We classify because life in a world of sameness would be intolerable. Yet inordinate diversity could be extremely daunting. By naming and classifying, the rich world of infinite variability shrinks to manipulative

17size and becomes bearable, understandable and ultimately meaningful. Naming is one of the chief methods of imposing order on what is perceived, the names showing both what is significant in an environment as well as how the perceptions of that environment are organised and ordered.35 Ultimately, the ways in which we classify are arbitrary.

In the chapters following, the order and its subsequent meanings imposed by the Aboriginal people on their night sky shall unfold. I begin with a global view of Aboriginal cosmological concepts, moving on to accounts of the day-to-day uses of this knowledge, discussing inscription of knowledge in speech, on persons and on the body. Finally I frame the account ‘scientifically’ and then historically.

In chapter 2, I shall elucidate how Aboriginal people viewed their cosmos and the hand they had in its continuity. The sky-dome and the sky-world beyond were part of everyday life for Aboriginal people: their cosmos was vibrant and animated, teeming with interactive energies.

The focus moves to the ‘practical’ uses to which star knowledge was put by Aboriginal people. Having imposed order on the cosmos, Aboriginal people used stars for predictive purposes in their hunting and gathering economies (and in cultivation in the case of the Torres Strait Islanders). Ritual activity was a highly significant cultural adjunct to their economic life and timing was crucial to its efficacy. Navigation, both terrestrial and marine, is also considered.

Oral accounts of the sky, including references in mythology, are explored in the next chapter. Social relations and kin ties that are projected onto the heavens are the focus of chapter 5, and, from concern with persons, I move to a brief account of the stars and healing of the body. Aboriginal notions as they relate to European astronomy are investigated in Chapter 6 and the change in cosmological views following White invasion informs the final chapter.


As the sources of information are widely scattered and come with differing levels of interest and expertise, there is no continuity in the use of terms to describe traditional social and territorial organisations, an area in anthropological discourse which is beset with controversy. In general, I have deliberately refrained from using such terms (except where they appear in quotations) such as - tribe, language unit, domain, range, estate, band, culture-area, drainage division, phratry, clan - not out of a desire to avoid clear manifestations of political process among Aboriginal people, but rather as a way of rendering the material more accessible. I have, however, attempted to preserve the persistence of association, so strongly asserted by Aboriginal people, between people and place.

The majority of the material collected about Australian Aboriginal astronomy relies on observations and accounts from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The bulk of these observations is derived from men (and a few women) who carried with them their own cultural perceptions and experiences about what constituted for example, ‘astronomy’, ‘sky’ and in turn, ‘night sky’. There is no word or concept in the many Aboriginal languages for the Western concept ‘astronomy’ or indeed ‘astrology’. There was no separate domain of inquiry or knowledge, in as much as the night sky was not a separate space from other aspects of the landscape.

The early observers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander life came from a post-Newtonian Europe in which the safe, mechanistic, self-running, self-sustaining, perfectly ordered universe of the eighteenth century had been replaced by a universe which, having pushed humans off centre stage, was challenging deeply held and cherished notions about order, hierarchy and consequently, meaning. The cosmologist, Edward Harrison explains that ‘it is hopeless trying to understand the nineteenth century, with its fulminations from pulpit to platform, without realizing that numerous persons were struggling to save the imperiled world pictures that gave meaning and purpose to life on Earth.’36


In collecting impressions about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cosmologies and astronomies, the early observers did not ask questions about how ‘sky’ was experienced, construed or constructed. Such problematic notions as what is perceived by Aboriginal people as properly belonging to the linguistic category ‘sky’ and how celestial phenomena were perceived in this context are not addressed. Whether ‘sky’ had distance, time or boundary, or indeed, what constituted these categories, were not considerations at that time. Problems of nomenclature add to the complexity. In simple terms, modern Western astronomy has constructed an imagined Euclidean geometric grid over the night sky and patterns of the constellations are determined by joining dot-to-faint-dot, points of lights. The resulting dark spaces and light patterns are then ordered and named through a combination of Greek, Arabic and European naming and numeral systems. Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander skies do not lend themselves to such geometrical interpretations. Importantly, Harrison has noted that ‘within one’s own universe it is extremely difficult to reconstruct a universe of long ago. The historical method recreates the past as perceived and understood within the cosmic framework of the historian.37

The taxonomic dilemmas thrown up by the data are seemingly infinite! What delineates ‘night’, for example: how is darkness perceived and experienced? Are there gradations, qualities and textures present in Aboriginal ideas about ‘darkness’? Western astronomy draws very clear distinctions between celestial veils and flashes of luminescence: comets for example, are distinguished from meteorites. How these celestial movements, their direction, luminosity and remnants were perceived by Aboriginal people is again problematic. Are what Europeans perceive as craters in the landscape related to meteor impacts? Does what we call ‘weather’ and discuss ad infinitum, have an equivalent? Is it related to, or located in ‘sky’? Indeed, what is ‘sky’? Does it have boundaries, texture or distance? Are heat and light necessarily associated with that dominating celestial object we know as ‘sun’? Does it have an identity? Does

20it really watch us interminably, with its huge monster eye? What holds the moon up there? Why doesn’t it fall down? Why does the sunset rise and set to a myriad of colours? The problems inherent in really comprehending each others’ universes are, to say the least, formidable!

It does seem clear, however, that at least some star knowledge and mythology was deemed secret and sacred. Consequently, this knowledge is not available; it was, and still is where possible, guarded by Aboriginal people, kept from those whom they see to be involved in appropriation or devaluation, or simply from those who are not initiated into Aboriginal cultural life or who are not of Aboriginal descent. Chet Raymo, astronomer-academic, having visited Central Australia to see the 1985/86 visitation of Halley’s Comet, judged this to be a reasonable stance:

The Aborigines who live near Ayers Rock are reluctant to share the secrets of the monolith with non-Aboriginal Australians or even uninitiated Aborigines. They firmly believe that knowledge of the Dreamtime must be judiciously communicated if the health of the cosmos is to be preserved. There is, I think, wisdom in the Aboriginal reticence. I am a teacher and a writer. It is my business to communicate the Dreamtime stories of science to as wide an audience as possible. But I am reluctant to allow scientific knowledge to be depreciated by becoming trivial and commonplace. When we sell comets the way we sell tooth-paste, something essential has been lost in our quest to understand nature … Astronomy, after all, is a science of faint lights. The excitement of astronomy lies in the way grand knowledge has been distilled from blurs of light in the night sky. One blur is a nebula where stars are born from streamers of dust and gas. Another is the debris of a stellar explosion, fat with heavy elements for future planets. Other blurs are clusters, quasars, galaxies racing outward from the impulse of the Big Bang or comets bearing hints of the origin of life. These faint lights, creatively interpreted, have conveyed to us the secrets of our Dreamtime.38

1 Mulkeong: a camp site near Cape Barrow, Gulf of Carpentaria.

2 Harney and Elkin 1949:65–66.

3 Translated: In past times, as the evening became dark, those folk who roamed and wandered in the night sought things that shone through the darkness: night, though sometimes perceived as sinister was confronted in accounts about what happened on a particular night or nights. In the dark, those who wandered in the night, came upon night-watchmen or policemen, thieves and burglars who specialised in night work, as well as poachers and prostitutes.

4 Raymo 1985:20.

5 Maegraith 1932:24.

6 1948:164.

7 Mountford 1956: 1976b.

8 Mathews 1905.

9 See Barnes 1973.

10 Horton 1971:223–25.

11 Douglas 1975.

12 Douglas 1966:90–92.

13 Maegraith 1932.

14 For example Firth:1932.

15 Beattie 1966:63–5.

16 Shapin 1979:49.

17 White 1975:125.

18 Kaberry 1939:12.

19 Dawson 1981:99.

20 However, star knowledge was not held exclusively by males in this region as Dawson was taught by Weerat Kuyuut a sagacious elder of the Moporr group as well as his intelligent daughter Yarrum Parpur Tarneen and her husband, Wombeet Tuulawarn.

21 Stanbridge (1857) in Smythe (1972:432) reports that he knew one such family from the Boorong group in the Mallee area of Victoria.

22 Mathews 1905:76.

23 Neidjie 1985:55–56.

24 Maegraith 1932:5.

25 The credibility of this statement is somewhat dubious as Maegraith (a male) only used male informants.

26 Mountford (1976b:89) also asserts that women were not aware of the secret myths about the night sky, but adds that the women had their own separate secret stories and myths about the heavenly bodies.

27 Lewis (1942–45:64) relying on the fieldwork of the Berndts in the Ooldea region.

28 Bates 1992:170.

29 Berndt and Berndt (1993:66–37) report that knowledge about the stars, about moon phases and the tides was passed from older men to boys during initiation in the form of myths as the stories of the ancestral heroes, many represented as stars, were interwoven into and causally related to seasonal and ritual activities.

30 Bhathal and White (1991) and Haynes (1992).

31 Dean (1979:213) in Barnes and Shapin.

32 Tyler 1969:.

33 Goodenough 1957:57–64.

34 Tyler 1969:5.

35 Anthropological accounts of taxonomies have abounded and include Subanum terminology of skin diseases (Frake 1961), colour categorisation (Berlin and Kay 1971; Conklin 1955), kinship terminologies (Lounsbury 1964), zoological classifications (Diamond 1966; Bulmer 1967) and plant classification (Berlin, Breedlove and Raven 1973).

36 Harrison 1985: 110.

37 Harrison 1985:1.

38 Raymo 1986:11.