“Galilei got it wrong, the Yolngu got it right”


Ghillar Michael Anderson and Prof Ray Norris  

Increasingly Aboriginal people in Australia are being recognised as the first astronomers. When the ancient wisdoms of the universe held by the oldest culture on earth meet modern astrophysics a new concept is born - cultural astronomy.


In a meeting of minds between Ghillar Michael Anderson and Prof Ray Norris, CSIRO astrophysicist project leader of the Evolutionary Mapping of the Universe (EMU) extraordinary parallels emerge in the two cultures - such as 'wormholes' and the pathway to Bullima, the Euahlayi Sky Camp, via the hollow Coolabah tree.



In the video reference above Professor Norris Professor Ray Norris says:

“One or two things were written about the astronomy of Aboriginal Australians. A few years ago I started       looking at this properly and found a few bits and pieces.

“I thought, is this real? Do Aborigines really have an astronomy in this culture or is it just a few stories about the sky? And what I mean by astronomy is, did indigenous people hundreds of years ago actually try to understand how the sky works?

“Did they try to understand how eclipses work, how tides work, did they see the planets move differently to stars – things like that. Did they use them for navigation, did they make calendars using stars – those things I call astronomy. Was there stuff like that or were there just a few stories about the sky.

“About five years ago my wife and I started digging into this and I was amazed by what I found. There’s a whole great load of this stuff and yes there are Aboriginal stories describing eclipses which are basically right. There’s some guy or woman out there in the bush who’s been watching an eclipse – why is that happening, why is the moon going out?

“And they figure it out in their own cultural terms. OK, this is the moon-man and the sun-woman making love and as they make love the body of one covers the other. Exactly right, the body of one covers the other.

“The Yolngu people up in Arnhem Land have these songs which describe how the phases of the moon influence the tides. People might say it’s obvious, well actually, no, it isn’t at all obvious.

“So, Galileo in the 17th century was saying, ‘no, the moon’s got nothing to do with the tides – Galileo got it wrong, the Yolngu people in Arnhem Land got it right.

“There is this great knowledge there about the sky and people have been studying it in traditional Aboriginal cultures. And what I find so interesting is that when you read the anthropology textbooks – yes, we know there’s all this art and dancing and all those beautiful ceremonies – you don’t get the sense of this deep intellectual part of Aboriginal cultures.

“This is what we’re finding in astronomy. A lot of intellectual thought has gone into that. There have been Aboriginal ‘Einsteins’ out there trying to figure out how the universe works. Aboriginal people don’t have writing in traditional cultures but they do have these songs which pass from generation to generation and so you find these things in the words of the songs, deep insights into how the universe works.

“I find that wonderful, it’s a completely new insight on how deep and complex Aboriginal cultures are.”




In the ‘must-see’ film Star Stories of The Dreaming Mr Anderson shares publicly for the first time teachings passed to him as the knowledge holder for his People of the Euahlayi Nation in northwest NSW.


STAR STORIES of THE DREAMING premieres at 7pm Wednesday 27 January 2016 in The Chauvel Cinema One, Paddington Town Hall, 249 Oxford Street, Sydney NSW


CONTACT: Eleanor 0421 795 639

Website, trailer & bookings: www.enlightning.com.au


Enlightning Productions
m:     + 61 421 795 639

skype:     enlightning