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Erub (Darnley Island), Torres Strait

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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.


Erub (Darnley Island)

Torres Strait, Queensland

The sea has always had great significance for the people on the island of Erub.  Explore how this connection to the sea is reflected in their cultural heritage, and how it continues to inspire artists today.

  • A map of Australia indicating the location of Erub in the Torres Strait.
    Erub, Torres Strait, Queensland
  • A colour photo of a section of the coastline around Erub (Darnley Island), Torres Strait.
    Setting the scene
  • A mask made from turtle-shell plates which have been moulded and sewn into the form of an elaborate human face; hair and beard made from human hair; shell eyes.
    Le-op (turtle-shell mask)
  • An illustration of two people dancing in front of a small crowd of seated and standing figures. One of the dancers is holding a large mask above his head, while the other is playing a drum.
    'A native dance at Darnley'
  • A dinghy sculpture made from fishing nets and ropes. It includes sculptural representations of an outboard motor, anchors, a spear, oars and fuel tank.
    'Loyalty' Dinghy ghost-net sculpture
  • Joshua Thaiday
    Joshua Thaiday

Activities

Match the text to the pictures

What do you know about Erub?

Video story

Learn about making a ghost net dinghy

Watch this video about the creation of the ‘Loyalty’ Dinghy sculpture.

Activity: Have a class discussion on what ghost-nets are and what impact they have on the environment? What messages are the people of Erub trying to promote through their ghost-net sculptures? Visit the Ghost Nets Australia website for more.

More activities

Ghost-net sculpture

Activity: Look at the way recycled materials were used to create the ghost-net sculpture, above. As a group project, use recycled material or materials collected from the shore of a local waterway to create your own sculpture. 

Museums and collectors 

Activity: Read this quote by naturalist Joseph Beete Jukes in Narrative of the Surveying Voyage of HMS Fly, 1847:

I purchased for a knife a curious tortoise shell mask … This and all the other native implements and curiosities I collected, are now in the British Museum.

Imagine the conversation between Joseph Beete Jukes and a curator at the British Museum on his return to London. Work in pairs to come up with six questions you would have asked Jukes, if you were the curator at the British Museum.

Once you have your questions, pair up with another group and role play  one person can be the curator and ask the questions and another person can play the part of Jukes. After your role play you might like to add some questions to your list.

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