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Captain Cooks 'discovery' of 'Terra Nullius' (Uninhabited Earth) was over 100 years later in 1770.It was estimated over 750,000 Aboriginal people inhabited the island continent in 1788.The European perception of Australia as 'Terra Nullius' clearly extended to the Aboriginal population for a long time as their near annihilation proves.However, the fact that their culture has existed for such an incredibly long time has not gone unnoticed by everyone, and our judgement of their wisdom is now in question as the civilisations of the modern world are being tested by their veracity for consumption and greed.
The oldest art is currently accepted as being over 28,000 years old.The first recorded outside contact with Aboriginals was with Dutch sailors such as William Janszoon and Dirk Hartog in the early 1600s.They were travelling from Holland to the Dutch Colonies in Indonesia, (the Spice Islands), and decided to leave the 'Island' alone.However, I would suggest that if a civilization be defined by the degree of polishing of an individual's mind and the building of his or her character, and if that culture reflects the measure of our self-discipline as well as our level of consciousness, then the Australian Aboriginals are actually one of the most civilized and highly cultured peoples in the world today." Contemporary Aboriginal art is typified by 'dotted' painting, a system which was developed in the 1970's and which became an immediate and lucrative seller in the international market.
It has been suggested that this type of art was designed as a means of disguising the 'sacred' or 'restricted' parts of their stories, but whatever the truth, it is now recognised as the dominant modern form of Aboriginal art.
Recent government statistics counted approximately 400,000 aboriginal people, or about 2% of Australia's total population.