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Tali - Sandhills

Sandhills dominate much of inland Australia and feature prominently in many Aboriginal artists paintings. While much of the semi- arid country of desert areas is covered in low scrub and grasslands, usually the dominating feature of the landscape is found in the patterns of the sandhills that creates the terrain.

Called Tali through much of Central Australia, desert sandhills are formed from the action of the wind. Often the sandhills are set in parallel rows according to the direction of prevailing winds. The valleys between the sandhills can create their own micro-climate, and depending on the fertility of the soils and amount of water run-off, some valleys are very productive while others can be quite barren.

Knowledge about the layout of sandhills on Aboriginal clan country is a vital part of understanding this country. The sandhills can be anywhere between three and seven metres in height, so usually it is difficult to see any country beyond the next sandhill. Older Aboriginal artists who have walked their country know the terrain well. Hidden within the labyrinth of sandhills are rockholes and soakages, the critical sources of water from underground sources.

Knowledge of the sandhills and the plants that grow around them is also important in locating the best areas for bushtucker. Traditionally nomadic people return to set locations when the season is right to collect seeds, fruit, berries and nuts. Returning to the locations requires accurate knowledge of the country.

Different artists find and represent the sandhill patterns of their home country in distinctive ways. This image shows three different depictions of sandhills by artists available at Red Kangaroo.

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