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A baby turtle and an egg being held in the hands of a Dhimurru Ranger.
Fighting to save Cape York sea turtles, 2012. Dhimurru Rangers in Yirrkala, Cape York, Northern Territory. Photograph by Kerry Trapnell.

21 November 2013

A tribute to Indigenous ingenuity on the land

The National Museum of Australia in Canberra is launching On Country: Connect, Work, Celebrate an exhibition celebrating how Indigenous people apply generations of knowledge to manage Australia’s land, rivers and sea.

The exhibition of approximately 90 photographs examines how over 33 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities utilise both traditional and contemporary land management techniques to benefit the nation through the management of cultural sites, heritage values, fire regimes, feral animals, weeds, pollution and climate change impacts.

The Caring for Country movement, which has developed over the last two decades, reflects an intercultural approach by combining Western scientific understanding and Indigenous knowledge, in land and water management.

Respected economic anthropologist, Professor Jon Altman, observed in 2012 that, 'the most ecologically intact parts of the continent are Aboriginal owned'.

The On Country exhibition includes photographs shortlisted from 2010 and 2012 biennial photographic competitions held as part of the Australian government’s Indigenous rangers program.

The photographs depict rangers, researchers, teachers, elders and youth, and highlight how their unique bonds with the land, combine with ceremony and science, to protect Country.

'These beautiful photographs depict the unrivalled connection Indigenous people have to their Country and to the land generally - and how their unique cultural knowledge is applied to address contemporary environmental issues,' said National Museum curator, Barbara Paulson.

Ngambri custodian from the Canberra region, Paul House, said the role of Indigenous people in managing traditional land is an intergeneration responsibility, which is taken very seriously.

'Indigenous people are custodians of their lands for future generations and the photographs reveal how empowering this is for Indigenous communities,' said Mr House.

The National Museum’s exhibition shows how the opportunity to manage their own lands, empowers Aboriginal and Torre Strait Islander communities and encourages the transfer of knowledge, traditions and ceremony between generations.

For more information please contact Tracy Sutherland, (02) 6208 5338 / 0438 620 710 or

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