Saturday, November 12, 2011

Australian History Still Central To Blue Mountain Tourism

From Crocodile Dundee to Steve Irwin, popular culture around the world has given people a certain view of Australia. From kangaroos to boomerangs, these stereotypes of Australians as outdoorsy types akin with nature are not without some truth. What many people don't know before they visit Australia's outback or take a Blue Mountains tour is that all the traditional tourist stops in the land down under are rooted in Australia's rich historical and cultural heritage.

The Boomerang: No Australian symbol is more prevalent in Australian tourism than the boomerang. But boomerangs are not just fun toys to throw around like a Frisbee. Boomerangs started out as hunting sticks that Australian Aborigines tuned to make them throw straighter. Since the Aborigines are believed to have never invented a bow and arrow, boomerangs were the weapons of choice for hunters as long as 10,000 years ago. Today's boomerangs are generally returning boomerangs used for sport. Many Australian tour guides leading Blue Mountains tours and
Sydney day tours are trained in the art of the Boomerang and some even offer demonstrations.

Kangaroos: While Australia is full of animal life unseen anywhere else in the world, perhaps none is more recognized as the kangaroo. The first paintings of this wallaby appeared on Australian cave walls more than 10,000 years ago. Historians believe that the killing of a kangaroo by aboriginal hunters brought status and that the animals were taken more as trophies than for food. Hunters often captured and ate smaller wallabies they were able to snare in traps or hunt down with boomerangs. They would use every part of these smaller animals and pilfering local populations of these creatures. But historians and aboriginal storytellers believe the aborigines held a certain respect for the kangaroo, as both a friend in the wild and a revered animal spirit. Today, most Blue Mountain trips include excursions to animal reserves to visit kangaroos, koala bears and other famous Australian animals.

Koalas: Koalas are believed to predate aborigines as koala-like remains have been found dating more than 25 million years ago. Historians believe that koalas were originally living on the landmass now known as Antarctica before the tectonic plates shifted to form today's modern landmasses. Koalas are believed to have emigrated to Australia around the time its climate shifted to give rise to a strong eucalyptus population. Koalas were able to survive off this plant and still do so today. While koalas were hunted for food, historians believe they were revered in a similar way to kangaroos, as a special animal. Today, most Australian tours insist on seeing koalas.

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