Learn about Australia’s Indigenous Cultures

Australia has a rich and deep cultural heritage. Prior to European invasion, more than 250 Aboriginal languages were spoken across the continent and up to 500 different clan groups.

There are many places of cultural significance across the country but the Northern Territory has some of the best cultural experiences. While you aren’t able to visit these places in person for a little while, there are plenty of ways you can learn about Aboriginal culture across Australia.

Indigenous Australia has a tragic history following the arrival of Europeans to this land. Many atrocities occurred following the European invasion and the consequences are still felt today. There are many documentaries and films that explore these events and highlight Aboriginal experiences, check out some of our favourites below.

  • Mabo

    Mabo tells the story of Torres Strait Islander man Eddie Koiki Mabo and his successful legal battle to bring Native Title legislation to Australia.

    Mabo worked tirelessly to challenge the High Court of Australia to overthrow the fiction of terra nullius. The notion was incorrectly used when Europeans invaded Australia and claimed the land as their own. After ten years of campaigning Mabo never saw his work eventuate, dying just five months before the legal doctrine of terra nullius was overturned.

    Though Mabo fought from Queensland, his work has seen significant changes across Australia. The lands surrounding Uluru and many other large areas of the Northern Territory have been handed back to their traditional owners.

    Today, when you purchase permits to enter Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park you are directly supporting the Anangu, who rent these lands to Parks Australia to allow visitors.

  • In My Blood It Runs

    This new documentary follows the life of 10-year-old Arrernte/Garrwa boy Dujuan. He speaks three languages, is a fantastic hunter and a child healer. The film follows Dujuan as he tries to balance millennia of traditional teachings and western schooling.

    The film follows as his family try endlessly to balance his Arrernte education alongside his western schooling. Dujuan is put under scrutiny by welfare services and police, the film follows as he tries to find himself between these conflicting worlds and discovers his truths. In My Blood, It Runs tells the all too familiar story for many Indigenous youths as they and their families fight to ensure they do not become another statistic.

    In My Blood It Runs was filmed collaboratively with Arrernte Elders to ensure the respectful representation of Arrernte communities, culture and customs.

  • Jedda

    Jedda was the first Australian feature film to use Aboriginal actors in its lead roles. Following the death of her own baby, a white woman adopts an Aboriginal baby whose mother died during childbirth. The film follows the impact of taking Aboriginal children from their country and their culture.

    More than 60 years after the film was released its message remains strong, emphasising the importance of learning culture as well as the impacts of defying tradition. Jedda is poignant in its story and still today has a significant impact on those watching.

Aboriginal culture is complex and meaningful. A great way to learn more about just some of the traditions and lives of Indigenous Australians is to engage with media. By holding a better appreciation for Aboriginal culture before coming to Australia you will have an even more meaningful experience at culturally significant areas such as Uluru.

Related article: The Significance of Uluru to Australian Indigenous Culture

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