At contact there was no single, homogeneous Aboriginal society.
Groups differed in aspects of their cultural and social organisation,
and in the Northern Territory alone, over 100 different languages
were spoken. These were separate languages, as unlike one another
as French and Russian. Existence of widespread social networks meant
that people had to be multilingual to communicate. The Arrernte
group could speak up to 10 languages / dialects.
Likewise, music and dance, kinship systems, art forms and ceremonies
differed dramatically between regions. Yet these differences were
probably less important than the underlying similarities which brought
groups together for ceremonies, for trade, to intermarry, and which
allowed the maintenance of myths, and song lines and exhange cycles
that extended over hundreds of kilometres. Even today regional variations
remain ; there is no one Aboriginal society and people in different
regions tend to emphasise their own distinctness and identity.