Why are native Australians hairy

Australia : Don't be afraid of tentacles

“No worries, crocs here only in summer,” says Brandon and with a big grin he beams away all the danger that the bright yellow crocodile warning sign on the beach signals. “And if a croc does come,” he jokes, “then you've got your spears.” His guests are supposed to use them to hunt crabs in the knee-high Pacific waters off Cooya Beach on the Australian east coast. Just like Brandon Walker and his extended family have been here for generations. The Walkers are Aborigines, descendants of Australian natives and had an idea years ago: “When tourists snorkel clown fish for a lot of money in the nearby Great Barrier Reef and watch whales dive in and out, then they can also spend their tickets with us and spear fishing help."

In the beginning, Brandon and his brother Lincoln often trudged alone over sandbanks and the adjacent, muddy mangrove forests, but this morning - as usual - they welcome a whole busload of hunting parties. They come from Melbourne, Silvie and Geert even came from Holland. The next group follows at noon, so into the water - march! What for the first few meters looks like a harmless mudflat group with oversized Nordic walking sticks, mutates into a barefoot killer squad in no time at all. At least from the perspective of the palm-sized crabs. They like to dig into sand holes underwater. And are now in mortal danger as soon as Brandon reveals their hiding place. From the shy ten-year-old Jasmin to the white-haired Grandpa Geert - all of them let their two-meter-long bamboo spears with their metal tips dash through the clear water into the gray sand holes.

After a proud presentation in front of clicking cameras, the dull, wriggling prey wanders into Brandon's bucket. “Yes, that's how we get our daily lunch to this day,” says the 36-year-old and, as proof, invites all guests to the terrace of his parents' house after every fishing trip. Freshly cooked by Mama Walker, the catch is eaten here, garnished with Lincoln's basic didgeridoo course: for the gurgling basic sound, simply let your lips vibrate on the painted wooden pipe, mix in jumping sounds with a clicking tongue and sprinkle in bird sounds from your larynx. The subsequent attempts by some guests are more reminiscent of toilet noises.

With tourist offers like these, visitors immerse themselves in the everyday life and world of the Aborigines. An important step for the long suppressed indigenous people who were pushed to the fringes of Australian society until a few decades ago: First, tourists no longer encounter their culture as boomerang kitsch and dot-dot-coma-line painting on T-shirts. Second, the Aborigines themselves become tourism operators and are no longer the stealthily gawked "savages" in the reservations created by whites. There are around 20 travel offers operated by Aborigines in the east coast state of Queensland, and there are around 50 in all of Australia - and the trend is rising.

Roy Gibson was one of the first. Since 1987 he has been guiding guests through the rainforest near the village of Mossman, where his tribe named Kuku Yalanji lives and Roy grew up. "Garrnar", little dingo, was his nickname as a child because he always strolled into the jungle with the tribal elders - just like a puppy. On these paths, the 64-year-old shows his guests today how his tribe builds rainproof huts out of tree bark and where the “Djabu Djabu” is, a place reserved only for women, where they tell their own tribal stories to the next generation. Roy often heard a sharp "Dungai!" ("Get out!") After he sneaked up.

The Aborigines cannot do without fables and myths. If you ask, you will be told about the so-called dream time more than 40,000 years ago: about the creation of today's Australian mountains, valleys and river beds by the rainbow snake and about the fact that every Aborigine is assigned a species of animal as a totem that he is not allowed to touch. The ideal place for such stories: the campfire on the Davidson River near the town of Tully, the wettest part of Australia - indicated by an eight-meter-high rubber boot monument. Excursions and multi-day camps with Sonya Jeffrey, Tonya Grant and the Aborigines of the Jirrbal tribe begin on the shore. First station: the "Wait a while" tree. It is so called because - once you get tangled in your tentacles - you have to wait a while before a powerful hedge trimmer brings you free. Tonya, however, gets along very well with the meter-long, hardly finger-thick twigs and peels off the unruly bark in no time at all.

She weaves bracelets and baskets from the remaining elastic core - a ritual act among the Jirrbal. After a short briefing, the visitors have to go. Then painting lessons follow. To do this, the guests wade the Davidson River a little way upstream to the paint store: a piece of bank at a bend, from which Tonya cuts colorful pieces of clay with a kind of XXL cake server. With “magrra” (yellow), “gunga” (red) and “gaba” (white) the guests color their faces, hands and legs in artistic freestyle, while Tonya explains the basic alphabet of the Aborigines in her pictures: A vertical line is that Man, an egg that is opened downwards, the woman and a thick black point in the middle of many small dots symbolizes an emu - and in Aboriginal mythology this is synonymous with mother earth.

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