Songlines are the oldest living narrative of Australia, and were the focus for the 2016 NAIDOC Week celebrations. NAIDOC: “Songlines are intricate maps of land, sea and country. They describe travel and trade routes, the location of waterholes and the presence of food. In many cases, Songlines on the earth are mirrored by sky Songlines, which allowed people to navigate vast distances of this nation and its waters.”

Songlines: The power and the promise The First Knowledges series offers an introduction to Indigenous knowledges in vital areas and their application to the present day and the future. Exploring practices such as architecture and design, land management, medicine, astronomy and innovation, this six-book series brings together two very different ways of understanding the natural world: one ancient, the other modern. The first book focuses on Songlines.

Late Night Live: Margo Neale and Lynne Kelly offer an Indigenous and Non-Indigenous perspective on the meaning and significance of Songlines, why they have been so successful in keeping Indigenous knowledge intact for tens of thousands of years and how they work as an effective memory technique and tool. 

03:00 From an Indigenous perspective, what are songlines?
03:50 The whole continent is called land stories … like a spider web
04:30 Country in mind
07:10 If you want to be Australian, you need to know your stories beyond 200+ years
09:45 Singing information is going to be far more valuable
10:00 Temporal snapshots
10:30 Memory palaces are simplified versions of Aboriginal songlines
12:28 The room I’m sitting in is Hungary

Recommended Listening
Songlines: the foundational Australian story


NAIDOC: The extensive network of Songlines can vary in length from a few kilometers to hundreds of kilometers, crossing through traditional Country of many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language groups. For example, the Seven Sisters Songline covers more than half the width of the continent, from deep in the Central Desert out to the West Coast while others connect the Gulf of Carpentaria with the Snowy Mountains near Canberra.

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