Australia's First People
Life style

Victorian Aborigines adapted their life style to ensure that they made every possible use of what nature had to offer. The three main environments they encountered were the Coast, the Western District and the Riverine.

Coastal Aborigines

Economy in Summer  Economy in Autumn  Economy in Winter  Economy in Spring

Summer was spent near the coast where food was plentiful however the people were highly mobile changing location to utilise other food sources. Autumn was spent on the edge of the grasslands near water resources in order to harvest fish and eels. Winter was spent near fuel and food resources. Housing was built according to the weather conditions. Spring saw people moving closer to the coast to utilise seasonal food resources in the area.

Hunting involved the taking of birds (during breeding season) sometimes using traps, Mutton birds (taken in burrow), swans and ducks (during moulting), seals (breeding season), fish, eels, stranded whales, koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, emus and possums.
Collecting food in the form of fruit, vegetables, seeds and shellfish were extremely important in insuring a health diet. Vegetables sometimes required being removed from the soil with the help of a digging stick while shellfish were collected in two diffezront ways. Wavy turbo, limpits, abalone, dog winkle, ribbed-top shells and rock whelk were collected by hand while pipi, wedge shell, mud ark and oysters were collected by dredging.

All the material needs the people required had to come from the local environment. Some products produced from animals and plants were:
Bone tools, nose bones , fish spear points: kangaroo and emu bones
Headband decorations: kangaroo teeth
Binding string: kangaroo sinews
Rugs and cloaks: possum skin
Arm bands: possum hair
Necklace: reeds
Awls and bipoints: long bones of seabirds
Scrapers: marine shells
Drinking containers: abalone shells
Stone tools: flint found along beach
Digging sticks, clubs, boomerangs, spears: branch from tree
Canoe: bark
Nets: kangaroo grass or stringy-bark fibers
Fishing line: bark of Acacia
Fishing hooks: bone

The Riverine

Economy in Summer and Autumn     Economy in Winter, Spring and Early Summer

In the Winter, Spring and early Summer people established their base camp on the edge of the flood plan.  Fish, shellfish, birds, bird�s eggs, crayfish were obtainable from the river environment. In the Summer and Autumn people were able to camp next to rivers and creeks.  They were able to collect vegetables and fruit from the flood plain as well as fish and shellfish from the rivers.


  1. Nets. A hoop net approximately two metres long was used to catch crayfish while seine nets approximately one hundred metres long and two metres wide were used to catch fish.

  2. Poison. Clumps of eucalyptus leaves were used to poison water pools. The stunned fish floated to the surface to where they were collected.

  3. Canoes. The light from a small clay fireplace on the canoe was used to attract fish. The fish were then speared.

  4. Reed spear. A reed spear less than two metres long, tipped with emu bone was used to spear fish.

  5. Fishing line. The line was approximately thirty to forty metres long with a bone hook. Shellfish meat was used as bait.

Some artifacts produced from animals were:
Shells: scraping bulrush roots and animal skins.
Crayfish leg segments: necklaces
Possum skins: water containers, fur cords, drum, women�s apron, headband, ball, armlets, cloaks
Possum fat: medical treatment
Possum jaws: engraver
Kangaroo sinew: sewing possum skins, binding spear points
Kangaroo skin: water bags, bags, mats, cloaks
Kangaroo bone: awls, spear points
Emus feathers: aprons and decorations
Emus eggs: water containers
Emus bone: spear points, awls, nose bone

Some artifacts produced from plants were:
Bulrush roots: nets, fishing lines, skipping rope, waist belts, string bags
Bulrush stems: nose pieces, necklaces, spear shafts


Grinding stones.

The Central Western District

Economy in Summer   Economy in Autumn  Economy in Winter    Economy in Spring

Summer saw a highly mobile population moving through the woodlands collecting plant foods and hunting kangaroos, emus, possums, wallabies, birds and other small animals.
Autumn saw people moving to river and creek areas in order to harvest eels and fish.
In Winter the people moved to more substantial housing, collecting food close to their settlement.
Spring saw people moving to harvest shellfish, fish, birds, eggs and other small animals.

A reconstruction of a branch shelter.