Two important aboriginal foods are the fruit of the cycad palm, and a large nutritious yam. The cycads provide an ample and reliable source of food from June until October, while the yam is available for an even longer period. The interesting thing is that both of these fruits are highly poisonous in their normal state, and can only be eaten after cutting them in slices and soaking them in running water for several days. The prepared fruit can also be stored in pits, where it remains edible for a considerable time.
For the native people who live on the seacoast or the swamplands, the nesting season, too, is a time of abundance. The outlying islands and the rock headlands are the nesting places of the marine birds, the gulls, fairy penguins and terns, and the swamps are the homes of swans, pelicans, geese, and wild ducks of many kinds. The multitudes of their eggs provide the native people with an abundant supply of easily gathered food. People cook the eggs in the hot sand of the camp-fire, and they prefer them when they are almost ready to hatch, believing, quite correctly, that they are much more satisfying in this state than when they are newly laid. The eggs of the emus are another source of food, two of them, especially if they are near incubation, being sufficient for a meal.
In the aboriginal society, the older men possess an innate dignity that is not common in our own culture. And the tribal elders hold the highest social status. It is they alone who know the inner secrets of the tribe, who possess the knowledge of the most lethal chants to punish offenders, and who have the final say in all matters relating to the ceremonial life of the tribe.
These Australian aborigines also have their own myths. According to their beliefs, in the beginning the earth was flat and featureless, just like a huge plain extending on all sides to the horizon. (And even today, they think that if they walk too far in any direction they will be in danger of falling into bottomless space.) Then came the "Dream Time," When certain great semi human beings rose out of the featureless plain where they had slumbered for countess ages, and began to wander over the countryside. And when the "Dream Time" mysteriously came to an end, everywhere the mythical heroes had carried out any great task, some natural feature such as a mountain range, a hill, or a river, arose to mark the place. So, this is why every aboriginal claims direct descent from one or another of these mythical beings of the "Dream Time".