jellyfish kills. It is common in tropical waters in the summer months. (see 12 Hazards,
The internet provides a heap of information on what the water sports people have to
offer. Remember that the surf gives out where the Great Barrier Reef begins.
6 Aboriginal Communities
Australia's original people have a culture that goes back to the Old Stone Age.
It's not known exactly when their ancestors first arrived on the Australian
continent but good circumstantial evidence indicates that people were here at
least forty thousand years ago. The silly theories about families being washed
ashore on tree trunks following tsunamis have been discarded.
The current view is that the first Australians were competent seafarers who made
the voyage in boats or rafts. Australia has never been joined to the Asian mainland
and the voyage from the nearest islands would have taken the early settlers far out of
the sight of land.
With such a rich culture it is not surprising that visitors from overseas want to visit
Aboriginal communities and see something of it themselves. In the more settled parts
of Australia, you won't find people living in anything like the old lifestyle. They live in
houses like everyone else and their kids attend the local schools. That doesn't mean
they don't have a sense of community. Sometimes this finds expression in the
communal ownership of land belonging to their ancestral clans.
The Minjungbal people in Tweed Heads, just south of where I live on the Gold
Coast, are a good example . They have a patch of land at the mouth of the Tweed
River and they have developed it as a cultural and environmental reserve. Visitors are
welcome. There are walkways amongst the mangrove swamps and fringing
woodlands. The diverse habitat is rich in plants and wildlife. In the old days it was
capable of supporting a substantial number of people.
If you visit the Minjungbal reserve you will find a visitors centre with displays
illustrating the old way of life . Outside, on the paths and walkways, information boards
tell you about different plants and how they were used. You will see plants with
medicinal properties and plants that need skilled preparation before they can be eaten.
Other plants were used for basket making, babies' nappies (diapers) and adults'
clothes. The reserve has an ancient clearing where the tribes used to gather for
If you want to visit an Aboriginal heritage centre, inquire at the tourist information
offices on your travels.