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north-east Arnhem Land

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Encounters. Indigenous contact and culture: a classroom resource

Caution: This website includes images and names of deceased people that may cause distress to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.


Yolngu country

North-east Arnhem Land, Northern Territory

For hundreds of years, the Yolngu people of the north coast of Australia regularly traded with visiting seafarers from Makassar.

  •  	A map of Australia indicating the location of north-east Arnhem Land, Northern Territory.
    North-east Arnhem Land, NT
  • Yolngu country
    Setting the scene
  • A wooden spear with carved barbs along one side of the red ochred head, which is joined with black gum to the shaft.
    Bati (spear)
  • Bark painting, made from ochres on bark, featuring a large sailing boat, with a rectangular sail, containing eight stylised human figures including an oarsman at the vessel's stern. The boat has nine small canoes attached to its side.
    Makassan prau painting

Did you know?

Trepang (sea cucumbers) were harvested in northern Australian waters by Indonesian fishermen from Makassar. They were then sold in China, where they were considered a delicacy.

Activities

Who traded what?

What do you know about Yolgnu country?

More activities

Culture and community 

Activity: Yolngu man Djaladjari travelled to Makasar via Timor as a boy in the 1890s. Have you ever travelled to a different region or country? What happened? How did it feel? Share your story with a classmate and listen to their story. What are the similarities and differences between your experiences?

Activity: Have a class discussion about the different cultural groups in your community. How have these groups shaped the character of your community?

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