The song is about the destruction of Aboriginal homelands by white Australians in their quest for weapons-grade uranium. Musical guest Rolf Harris plays the didgeridoo on the recording. Bird impersonator Percy Edwards provided sheep noises. The original title for the track was "The Abo Song", which unwittingly made use of a racial slur; promotional 12" copies were circulated before being recalled.
An alternative version of "The Dreaming", entitled "Dreamtime", was used as the UK single b-side. It is usually referred to as an instrumental version of "The Dreaming". This is not strictly true in that while the track omits all the sung lead vocal lyrics it still retains most of the backing vocals such as the stretched dreamtime harmonies heard during the chorus. It is also of note that "Dreamtime" contains both an extended intro and outro. It starts with approximately 4 bars of double-tracked didgeridoo drone before the original arrangement comes in and finishes with approximately 30 seconds of the same following a breakdown of the original arrangement.