Photograph of the bush

Living Language: Country, Culture, Community

  • Past Exhibition

Marking the UNESCO International Year of Indigenous Languages.

Exhibition Information

Past Exhibition
Exhibition Galleries

1 Shakespeare Place
Sydney NSW 2000
+61 2 9273 1414

This exhibition celebrates the resilience of our Aboriginal languages using original documents and interviews with language custodians on Country. It has been guided by these custodians, whose knowledge and experience have enhanced and challenged our understanding of Aboriginal language materials in the Library’s collection.

Adding to the story are significant early wordlists borrowed from overseas collections. The notebook of William Dawes records not only individual words of Sydney Coastal languages, but also conversations. Some of the Awabakal language from the Newcastle region is preserved in American linguist Horatio Hale’s notebook, which returns to Australia for the first time since it was written more than 150 years ago.

The State Library is committed to supporting language initiatives and we look forward to working with many other programs and communities in the future.


Some of our exhibition reference group members


Language reference group (alphabetical order)

Rhonda Ashby (Gamilaraay/Yuwaalaraay, Lightning Ridge)

Tyronne Bell (Ngunawal, Canberra)

Caroline Bradshaw (Dhanggati, Kempsey)

Callum Clayton-Dixon (Anaiwan, Armidale)

Raymond Ingrey (Dharawal, La Perouse)

Michael Jarrett (Gumbaynggirr, Nambucca Heads)

Diane McNaboe (Wiradjuri, Dubbo)

Brad Steadman (Wahwankay/Ganngaramakay/Barrinahkay, Brewarrina)

Maureen Sulter (Gamilaraay, Coonabarabran)