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Aboriginal Australians

Explore stories of Aboriginal culture, history, language and art through the Library's stunning collections.

Featured

Calling the Koori Knockout

Author/s
Brad Cooke

One of the most important sporting and cultural events on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander calendar returns.

Eight days in Kamay

On 29 April 1770, the Gweagal people of Kamay (Botany Bay) discovered James Cook and his crew as they sailed into the bay and came ashore. The eight days that followed changed the course of Australia’s history. 250 years later the events of those eight days and their continuing impact are still being debated, contested, felt.

Photograph of four elders

Sydney Elders

In Aboriginal communities, our elders are our libraries; they hold our knowledge and connect us to our past while strengthening our future

The Dyarubbin (Hawkesbury) River, photographed from Sackville for Exploring Dyarubbin exhibition / Photo by Joy Lai

Dyarubbin

Dyarubbin, the Hawkesbury River, begins at the confluence of the Grose and Nepean rivers and ends at Broken Bay. This long, winding and ancient river has been home to the Darug people for millennia and is a vital and sustaining resource.

Drawing of harbour foreshore with people around a fire, a canoe in the foreground.
  • Indigenous
  • People
  • Image

Eora: Indigenous Sydney before European settlement

Delve deep into the stories of Indigenous Sydney before European settlement, created through a close and innovative interrogation of the European records of early colonisation.

All stories

Photograph of four elders

Sydney Elders

In Aboriginal communities, our elders are our libraries; they hold our knowledge and connect us to our past while strengthening our future

The Dyarubbin (Hawkesbury) River, photographed from Sackville for Exploring Dyarubbin exhibition / Photo by Joy Lai

Dyarubbin

Dyarubbin, the Hawkesbury River, begins at the confluence of the Grose and Nepean rivers and ends at Broken Bay. This long, winding and ancient river has been home to the Darug people for millennia and is a vital and sustaining resource.

The Fighting Sands Brothers

Author/s
Melissa Jackson and Kerry-Ann Tape

Sport — including boxing — has long been one arena where First Nations talent has been celebrated.

Dyarubbin, the Hawkesbury River, from above Sackville Reach, photo by Joy Lai

Following the river

Author/s
Marika Duczynski

Darug people share a deeper story of Dyarubbin, the Hawkesbury River.

Sydney's Bungaree

Bungaree (c 1775–1830) is a remarkable and enigmatic figure in Sydney and Australia’s colonial history. 

An Aboriginal flag is planted in a dry riverbed

Totems

Author/s
Heidi Norman

How can a dialogue between Indigenous ancestors and descendants forge connections to country for all Australians?

  • Aboriginal
  • Exhibition
  • History

Curating Eight Days in Kamay

Author/s
Damien Webb

In 1770 the Gweagal people of Kamay (Botany Bay) discovered James Cook and the Endeavour. The Library’s new exhibition explores the eight days that followed.

Art of Newcastle: convict artists in Aboriginal Country

Author/s
Mark Dunn

An Aboriginal leader’s assistance to the artists of the Newcastle penal settlement led to an unprecedented visual record of the local Indigenous people.

Young man sits at a wooden desk, surrounded by shelves of boxes and jars.

Reclaiming our story

Author/s
Callum Clayton-Dixon

A contributor to the Library’s Living Language exhibition reflects on Indigenous resistance, survival, and the New England linguicide.

A landscape photograph depicting a misty river as viewed through a break in tree cover.

The real secret river: exploring Dyarubbin

Author/s
Grace Karskens

A list of Aboriginal placenames was a trigger for seeking the ‘real secret river’.

The Redfern All Blacks in 1946

Author/s
Ronald Briggs, Curator, Research and Discovery

We've recently digitised a remarkable series of  photos showing players from the Redfern All Blacks rugby league team taken at Redfern Oval in 1946.

Two women, lit up by projected words.

Living language: Aboriginal languages in New South Wales

Author/s
Damien Webb
Melissa Jackson
Marika Duczynski
Ronald Briggs

A major exhibition opening in July at the Library will celebrate UNESCO’s International Year of Indigenous Languages.

Flash mob

Author/s
Ronald Briggs

Photographs from the Deadly Awards by Jamie James.

  • History

An unknown warrior: mysterious portrait of an unknown, handsome young Aboriginal man

Author/s
Ronald Briggs

This mysterious portrait of an unknown, handsome young Aboriginal man is believed to have belonged to Governor Lachlan Macquarie, described as ‘One of the NSW Aborigines befriended by Governor Macquarie’. Part of the Works in Focus series.

'Portrait Gallery' c. 1870, from the Earngey album [Photographic scenes and portraits of Fijian natives, Aborigines of Queensland and Clarence River NSW, British Royalty and the Exhibition Building at Prince Alfred park, 1870-1875]
  • Indigenous
  • Quick Reads

Contact prints

Author/s
Nicola Teffer

Portrait of Gumbaynggirr and Bundjalung people from the 1870s show how photography shaped race relationships in the nineteenth century. 

Members of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are advised that this story contains names and images of deceased people.

Stephen Gapps, photograph
  • History
  • Indigenous
  • In Depth

The Sydney wars

Author/s
Stephen Gapps

Our 2017 Merewether Fellow Stephen Gapps looks at resistance and warfare in colonial Sydney on the anniversary of the Appin Massacre of 1816. 

Audio icon and image of painting of a shepherd tending his flock on the edge of an expansive valley of green pastural land.
  • Discovery
  • Indigenous
  • Audio

Planting Dreams: audio guides

Hear Jonathan Jones, Bruce Pascoe and Richard Aitken share their thoughts about some of the items on display in Planting Dreams

Hannah Middleton and Shirley Warin Gilgi at Daguragu, c. 1970, photographer unknown
  • History
  • Indigenous
  • In Depth

Big things grow: the Gurindji’s struggle for land rights

Author/s
Christine Jennett

The Gurindji’s struggle sparked a national network of support organisations and became a symbol of the land rights movement.

Michael and Jacko French by Matthew Riley
  • Art and culture
  • Indigenous
  • People
  • Image
  • Quick Reads

Michael Riley's A Common Place: Portraits of Moree Murries

A Common Place displays 15 dramatic portraits of Moree Murries taken by Michael Riley, one of Australia’s leading Indigenous contemporary artists.

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  • History
  • Indigenous
  • People
  • Image
  • Quick Reads

Family Keeps Us Going

Portraits and Stories of Families of Aboriginal Nations Living in South-West Sydney by Jagath Dheerasekara.
  • Art and culture
  • History
  • Indigenous
  • Quick Reads

Governor Arthur's Proclamation to the Aborigines

Author/s
Dr Rachel Franks

The Proclamation Board (1828-1830) is a four-strip pictogram aimed to communicate that those who committed violent crimes, be they Aboriginal  Australian or colonist, would be punished.

  • History
  • Indigenous
  • People
  • Image
  • Quick Reads

The first Indigenous cricket tour of England

In 1868, 13 cricketers from Victoria's western districts sailed from Sydney to become the first Australian team to tour England.

Members of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are advised that this story contains names and images of deceased people.

Photograph in black and white of a man wearing a suit
  • Indigenous
  • Partnerships
  • Quick Reads

David Unaipon

A great inventor, an Indigenous rights advocate and Australia's first published Aboriginal writer.

  • Art and culture
  • Indigenous
  • Natural world
  • Partnerships
  • Quick Reads

The Wallis album

The discovery and acquisition of a fascinating album compiled by Captain James Wallis reveals the artistic collaborations between a commandant and a convict.

Drawing of harbour foreshore with people around a fire, a canoe in the foreground.
  • Indigenous
  • People
  • Image

Eora: Indigenous Sydney before European settlement

Delve deep into the stories of Indigenous Sydney before European settlement, created through a close and innovative interrogation of the European records of early colonisation.

Eight days in Kamay

On 29 April 1770, the Gweagal people of Kamay (Botany Bay) discovered James Cook and his crew as they sailed into the bay and came ashore. The eight days that followed changed the course of Australia’s history. 250 years later the events of those eight days and their continuing impact are still being debated, contested, felt.