To the Australian Aborigines, water is sacred, even elemental, and the source of life. Water is elusive in their generally arid homeland, its sources inconspicuous. It is far more than merely a physical resource. The distribution of water across the landscape defines most hunting and foraging. Aboriginal relationships with water sources of all kinds are both social—delineated by kin and other ties—and spiritual, part of how they know and understand the world. As they travel across their home territories, each band invokes local traditions of ancestors and spiritual beings. These traditions provide knowledge and power, good luck and ways of avoiding misfortune. Rights to water sources and to hunting territories are held in common with other members of kin-based groups.
—Brian Fagan, Elixir: A History of Water and Humankind, 2011