Seasons, seasonal supply of food and family relationships

The Aboriginal people not only observed but also noted the movements of the stars and correlated these to the seasons and the seasonal supply of food.
The Aborigines of central Australia were able to differentiate between the nightly movement of the stars from east to west and also the gradual annual shift of the constellations in the same direction (Bhatal et al., 1991)

According to Charles Mountford (Mountford, 1976), the Aborigines of central Australia have a seasonal sky map, viz: the winter sky consisting of Scorpio, Argo, Centaurus and the adjacent stars belonging to the nananduraka group and the summer sky consisting of Orion, the Pleiades and Eridanus belong to the tanamildjan.
Mountford tells us that when the Aborigines in Arnhem Land saw the red giant star Arcturus in the sky they knew that it was time to harvest the spike rush or rakia (Mountford, 1956; Haynes et al 1996). However, to the Boorong Aborigines of Victoria Arcturus represented the spirit of Marpeankurrk who showed them where to find the pupa of the wood ant or the termite while Vega which represents the spirit of the Mallee hen shows them where to find its eggs (see Mountford, 1956; Haynes et al 1996; Stanbridge, 1861; and Bhatal et al., 1991). 

Aboriginal Family RelationshipsAboriginal Family Relationships 

Aboriginal Family Relationships

Family relationships and marriage classes invariably found their place in the stars. According to Maegraith (1932) amongst the Aranda and Luritja peoples the stars illustrated the marriage traditions in their societies. Thus, the two bright stars of the Southern Cross (Alpha Crucis and Beta Crucis) are the parents of the Pointer, Alpha Centauri. Alpha and Beta Trianguli are the parents of Beta Centauri.

The Aboriginal names provided by the Aboriginal community for some of the stars are shown in the table below.

AchernarAngnuraGroote Eylandt
AldebaranKarambalClarence River, NSW
AntaresDjuitBoorong, Victoria
ArcturusGuembilaWeilwun, NSW
ArcturusMarpeankurrkBoorong, Victoria
CanopusWarBoorong, Victoria
SiriusWarepil Boorong, Victoria


Mountford, C.P. 1976. Nomads of the Australian desert. Rigby
Mountford, C. P. 1956. Art, Myth and Symbolism. Vol 1 of Records of the American-Australian Scientific Expedition to Arnhem Land. Melbourne University Press
Haynes, R., Haynes, R., Malin, D & McGee, R. 1996. Explorers of the Southern Sky. Cambridge University Press
Stanbridge, W. 1861. Some particulars of the general characteristics, astronomy and mythology of the tribes in central part of Victoria. Transactions of the Ethnological Society of London. 1 (22)
Bhathal, R. & White, G. 1991. Under the Southern Cross. Kangaroo Press. Kenthurst.
Maegraith, B. G. 1932. The astronomy of the Aranda and Luritja tribes. Transactions and Proceedings of the Royal Society of South Australia. 56/1. 19-26.
Johnson, D. 1998. Night skies of Aboriginal Australia: A noctuary. Oceania Monograph 47. University of Sydney.