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Birregurra, Victoria

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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.


Gulidjan and Wadawurrung country

Birregurra, Victoria

The grassy plains of Gulidjan and Wadawurrung country attracted pastoralists in the 1830s. The traditional landowners initially resisted but then were forced to adapt to their presence. Gulidjan and Wadawurrung peoples still maintain a deep connection to country and continue to practise their culture today.

  • A map of Australia indicating the location of Birregurra, Victoria.
    Birregurra, Victoria
  • Gulidjan and Wadawurrung country
    Setting the scene
  • Spear-thrower made of wood, decorated with complex incised figurative designs, including two human figures; one holding a shield and a boomerang, the other clothed in a decorated skin cloak.
    Spear-thrower
  • Yarruun Parpur Tarneen
    Yarruun Parpur Tarneen (Victorious)
  • A black and white photo of Kaawirn Kuunawarn.
    Kaawirn Kuunawarn
  • An image of a Aunty Edna Arnold wearing a possum-skin cloak. black and white image of Yarruun Parpur Tarneen.
    Aunty Edna Arnold
  • A carved wooden shield featuring various geometric patterns and motifs.
    Malka (shield)

Activities

Match the text to the pictures

What do you know about Birregurra?

More activities

Possum-skin cloaks 

Activity: Examine the images above of the spear-thrower,Yarruun Parpur Tarneen (Victorious) and Aunty Edna Arnold. In which part of Australia were possum-skin cloaks traditionally worn, what did the designs on the inside of the cloaks relate to, and what do the cloaks symbolise today? To find more, check out the Culture Victoria website or the ABC Open website.

Activity: Design a possum-skin cloak, considering this quote by Yorta Yorta artist Treahna Hamm:

You’ve got the beginning of life and the end of life. The babies were wrapped in the cloaks and the people wore the cloaks right through until the people were actually buried in them.

Brainstorm what aspects of your life and culture should be included on your cloak, and how to represent them as symbols. Create a drawing of your design. Label each of the elements, explain what the symbols represent and why they are included on your design.  

Family history

Activity: Write a ‘life in the day’ of one of your ancestors, after reflecting on this quote by Gulidjan and Gadubanud Elder Aunty Edna Arnold after she visited the Elliminook homestead in Gulidjan country: 'Oh, my ancestors would have swept that flagstone'.

Think of a place where one of your ancestors worked in the past. What did they do there? What does it tell you about the time? Consider the working conditions, the opportunities, or restrictions that could have an impact on them. 

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