By Steven & Evan Strong
Contributing Writers for Wake Up World
Karta: ‘Gateway to the Heavens, Blessed those who Listen’.
Our time on Karta (Kangaroo Island, South Australia) was both unforgettable and Heaven-sent. Standing on country in the company of Ramindjeri spokesperson Karno Walker was an honour and privilege. We were allowed to be part of a learning experience that was at times as cryptic as it was revelatory; a story of days passed, and one we believe this will be essential in the days soon to come.
It was our plan to spend three nights and two days either beside a large open-pit fire or in country with Karno trying to absorb a few snippets of Ramindjeri Lore, history, Dreaming stories, and the off-world implications found within a maxim that resonates throughout all Original tribal estates: “as on top so below.” The challenge was that this task, even at the basic level, was so out of kilter with the limitations and comforts that are an integral part of modern daily life.
Two New Volunteers from Abroad
As has always been the case, our group was an eclectic mix of volunteers, this time made up of regular participants Ryan Mullins, Adam Pippen, Darren McElroy. We were also privileged to have two special guests join us on this occasion, Graham Hancock and Santha Faiia. Although Graham and Santha had already joined us for the previous four days viewing a variety of archaeological sites further north (more on that another time), this time together was different; being with Karno on such a sacred place was to be for all of us, a face-to-spirit interaction with an Original mentor of pedigree in control of proceedings.
It is our belief, and one subscribed to by Graham and Santha, that to fully grasp the complexities of the Old Ways and protocols, nothing seen or touched on site could be understood in its totality unless sitting with Original people immersed in ancient Lore and truths.
The First Among Equals
During our time on Karta (Kangaroo Island) with Karno at the helm, we learnt so much yet struggled to take it all in. But one message did not escape my comprehension: the Original narrative and genetic pool began at Karta. “First in time, first in law”. We have already gathered together a substantial case validated through genetics, archaeology and reliable historical accounts, all reinforcing the Original belief that “all peoples of the world come from us”, the Original people, but until now one had never been so bold or specific in choosing a preferred geography and mythology.
The hypothesis that Karta as the location at which the genesis of modern humans first took place is a massive call, and at odds with the late Auntie Beve’s proclamation that Homo sapien sapiens appeared first in Darkinooong land. Equally, we have known for some time that many of the tribes that make up the Bundjalung Language Confederation are just as adamant that Nguthungulli (the Creation Spirit) came out of the waters and set first foot on earth near Byron Bay, making his way across the continent and creating the many life-forms and formations found within Australia. In what only adds to the uncertainties, the same claim of first origin and presence is made by many other Original tribes.
Conceding that many tribes lay claim to being custodians of the first place, it may appear this is a pointless exercise, but we are bound by duty and protocol to present Karno’s case and will do so by first establishing an empirical base.
From the first time Karno declared with absolute conviction that the Ramindjeri were first among equals, therefore “the peacemakers and law-keepers” for all Original tribes, it raised some immediate questions.
We already knew that the ancient dates, artistry and technology associated with sites found within at Karta run counter to all conventional notions of a small band of African fishermen and women setting up camp on the northern shores of this exotic land between 50,000 and 60,000 years ago. In fact, there are so many sites across South Australia whose ages just don’t fit neatly into any accepted theory of an ancient migration into Australia.
Why is it that the oldest date attributed to any rock engraving – determined through cation ratio by Dr. Donald Dorne to be over 43,000 years – was found at Olary SA? Surely if the first settlement of Homo sapien sapiens in Australia took place in the northern section then slowly spread around the coastline, as most academics propose, the first evidence of such artistic activity should appear up north, near the coast. Located some distance from the coast at a location probably the furthest in Australia from any potential northern landfall, this distant engraving at Olary lends no weight to any African migration theory.
Of course, from our point of view the 43,000 year estimate, which has been extensively questioned by authorities, is merely a minimum base-line from which to investigate further back in time. The discovery of an amazingly detailed and intricate design of a salt-water crocodile at Panaramitee (inland SA) which is located “in the Olary region”, has is estimated to be at least 75,000 years old and possibly far more ancient. Respected Australian archaeologist, Josephine Flood, describes the engraving is an “enigma”. But despite the uncertainties, she concluded that due to the “thick layer of desert varnish on the petroglyph, I am going to be so bold as to suggest that it may derive from a time when terrestrial activity and human occupation actually co-existed in South Australia, although the youngest crocodiles found so far date to more than 75,000 years”.
There are three explanations that can account for this engraved anomaly. Of course, any claim of natural agencies at play can be immediately discounted; the potential that it was formed through the actions of nature is less than zero. This leaves us with two alternatives to consider.
1) This engraving, obviously of high artistic merit, was done by Original people who saw this creature elsewhere and then came back to their country and recorded this exotic animal in rock
2) At some time greater than 75,000 years ago the Original people actually engraved an animal that was present on their land.
In Original culture, to carve any motif, animal or spirit figure which was not an integral part of the tribal life and estate was unheard of; a sacrilege of such depth it would be punishable by death. Thus the only viable and realistic option is, as Josephine Flood proposed, that “crocodiles and humans co-existed” at some time greater than “75,000 years”.
The obvious problem here is that accredited texts assure us that no hominids or modern humans set foot anywhere in this country for at least another 15,000 years.
Even further back in the time-line, the discovery of a small piece of human skull at Lake Eyre dated by thermoluminescence to be 135,000 years old further adds to the possibility that modern humans came into existence somewhere in South Australia. But there is more than a shard of bone and a mysterious crocodile carving in this inconvenient equation; there is very strong evidence that the first indications of Original humans using art and inventing stone tools also took place somewhere within South Australia.
Even if we ignore the ‘unexplained’ Panaramitee crocodile engraving – and most academics invariably do – there is no disagreement that the most ancient Original art style yet discovered in Australia is referred to as the Panaramitee tradition. The distinctive symbols, motifs and designs of that region in South Australia have been found all over the continent. The actual date when this began is still in debate; all that can be proposed with certainty is that once again, it was the far southern part of Australia that leads the way, in time and place.
The same can be said for Kartan tool technology, which is also agreed to be the oldest category of tool technology found in Australia. Kartan stone tools can be found in every part of Australia, and are markedly different from the stone tool technologies found in Africa and the rest of the world. Being unlike other stone tools found throughout the globe and first made on the most southerly point of South Australia (Karta), both the location and timing of this technology also run counter to African migration theories.
It seems wise to take a pause in proceedings to assess the implications of this archaeology. So far what seems increasingly possible is that somewhere in South Australia, Original people and culture may have come into being and existence. To define boundaries more specifically, either the inland region around Panaramitee/Olary/Lake Eyre or the far southern section of Karta (which was joined to the SA mainland until 10,000 years ago) seem to be the prime candidates. However, as is our custom, we must always factor in Original advice and Lore.
Unique to Australia is a funerary practice with an ethereal destination for the recently departed. When an Original person dies, ceremonies are performed to facilitate the soul’s passage and eventual reincarnation when returning again and again to that person’s tribal estate. All of these rituals of passage and rebirth take place solely on tribal lands. However, there is one quite sizeable exception to this funerary process, one we believe to be a fundamental part of the entire Original tribal landscape.
Many mainland Original tribes of South Australia see this rite of passage in a slightly different light and geography. They believe that when leaving the body their soul takes a circuitous route, in that their spirit form travels to the island of Karta and only then can ascend into the stars to wait for the right timing and a new body to inhabit. Their souls actually separate from their land, often passing through other tribal estates and ‘ascend’ only when in Ramindjeri land.
Without any parallel in this continent, and possibly the planet, the notion of neighbouring souls eschewing their homeland in preference to a more distant sacred location may seem in contradiction with so many Original Laws and cultural practices. It is well known that the most dreaded verdict when convicted of breaking an Original Law, the one punishment most feared, was total physical ‘freedom’. If in breach of the most sacred Original covenants, the culprit would beg for death rather than banishment from his or her tribal grounds. Never allowed to return, when that person dies their soul is lost in perpetuity as they can never incarnate on the country of their birth, or any other place. Yet what we see here runs counter to such a basic tenet of Original religion and Law.
However, if we consider that the tribes closest in proximity to Karta maintained the closest links to country, and retained the knowledge that their ancient genesis and birthplace occurred on Ramindjeri land, such a detour is more than in keeping with our previous understanding.