The Very Short Story about Time

Time – it’s elusive so we’re told. Or, time stands still, so the saying goes. Our sense of time can vary depending on our age, culture and the geological era in which we live. Within Awabakal culture there is no word for time separate from anything else. To understand time within the context of a living continuous culture existing for many thousands of years, the word to use is: Barayikuwa (burayi-koowa) meaning Earthtime in English. (Listen to sound grab here)

Indigenous people have experienced time within a vastly different context to European or Asian people in Australia. Munibung Hill is an example of geological and indigenous time. Together they help deepen our understanding of how we are a co-evolving species separated by time but not much else.

We are completely dependent on what is known as deep time, land and earth time – 4.6 billion years – for us having arrived at this present place within universe time – 15.6 billion years. If time is to be understood as being relative to the speed of light, then it is almost impossible for us to understand our place in time within our current notion of time – caught up as we are in the pressures of daily existence – often not acknowledging the past, being so absorbed in the present and so focused on perpetuating existing paradigms into the future (as if there was no tomorrow’s child).

Tomorrow’s Child
Tomorrows Child by Glenn Thomas

These days we measure time by lifetimes of 25 years. Aboriginal society is an example of the longest living culture having been present in Australia for 2,600 generations (65,000 years). Compare this with European settlement of 9 generations (230 years) and we get some idea of how non-indigenous ways of knowing, that originated within a vastly different geological and cultural setting, is struggling to adapt to the conditions and constraints laid down within a Gondwanaland context – 7.2 million generations (180 million years)* or a Munibung Hill context – 10.04 million generations (251 million years).

Barayikuwa allows us to take a step back in time, to ask: Where have we come from? What are the consequences of our ways of living? and What direction might we like to chart as the future unfolds?

Munibung Hill is a classic example of land and earth time at a local level; of our common heritage regardless of our creed, colour, political affiliation or which strand of the human community we identify with.

Morris Stuart, conductor of the Central Australian Aboriginal Women’s Choir is an enthusiast for the preservation of indigenous language.  After all he says, when you lose language you lose everything.   We agree. It’s one way we teach our children. It’s one way we pass on stories.  It’s an essential part of our identity. We must cherish our language and share our stories and learn to respect that each of our traditions can together weave a rich fabric to enlighten the way ahead.

Welcome to Barayikuwa

Miromaa Aboriginal Language and Technology Centre

We acknowledge the staff at Miromaa Aboriginal Language & Technology Centre, Newcastle, for their assistance in providing us with a unique menu name from the Awabakal language, as part of our public presence on the internet. Miromaa Aboriginal Language and Technology Centre

*Australian History

Gondwana: The southern super-continent –

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