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Songlines are the Aboriginal walking routes that crossed the country, linking important sites and locations. Before colonization they were maintained by regular use, burning off and clearing.

The Meaning of Songlines

The term "Songline" describes the features and directions of travel that were included in a song that had to be sung and memorized for the traveller to know the route to their destination. Certain Songlines were referred to as ‘Dreaming Pathways’ because of the tracks forged by Creator Spirits during the Dreaming. These special Songlines have specific ancestral stories attached to them.

More About Songlines:

Markers for the Journey:

“Songlines contain information about the land and how the traveller should respectfully make their trip. This includes the types of food were safe to eat, places to be avoided and the boundaries of each Mob’s Country that the traveller could pass through. Songlines also describe features and landmarks that the traveller should look out for so they knew that they are going in the right direction. A well-known marker is the scar-tree near the Heide Museum of Modern Art in Bulleen. This scar-tree is called "Yingabeal" (Yinga meaning sing or song and beal being the Wurundjeri name for a redgum). Yingabeal marks the point where five different Songline routes meet and come together”.


A Cultural Passport: 
“One example of a Songline is the 3,500km travel route that connected the central desert region with the eastern coast of the country (modern day Byron Bay). This particular travel route allowed the desert communities to visit the ocean where they could witness how dolphins were used by the people to heard fish. Similarly people from the coastal communities were able to travel and visit the culturally important sites of Uluru and Kata Tjuta. Songlines also act as a "Cultural Passport" when travelling through the country of another Mob. The verses that relate to a particular region, can be sung in the local language so that the people living there know that travellers are passing through in a respectful manner”.

Songlines Today: 
“When the British invaded, the colonists used Aboriginal Songlines for their horse drawn vehicles because a path had already been cleared. Over time and continued use, these traditional routes evolved to become cart-tracks, then gravelled paths, to finally the bitumen covered roads we see today. Examples of roads in Melbourne that were once used as Aboriginal Songlines include the Napean Highway, Dandenong Road, Plenty Road, Heidelberg Road, Geelong Road and Ballarat Road, just to name a few”.


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