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Western Australia

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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.


Kimberley Aboriginal country

Western Australia

Aboriginal people of the Kimberley use symbols on objects to carry meaning, a tradition that continues to this day. Explore how British visits to the region carried meaning, and how contemporary Kimberley artists portray the past through symbols.

  • A map of Australia indicating the location of Kimberley Aboriginal Country, Western Australia
    Kimberley Aboriginal country, WA
  • Fitzroy River, Kimberley
    Setting the scene
  • Wooden message stick  engraved with motifs and handwritten text on one end reading ‘EXTREME N.W. OF W. AUSTRALIA’.
    Message stick
  • An engraved boab nut decorated with three rows of inscribed scenes in a series of frames.
    Whiteman’s Justice boab nut
  • An engraved boab nut decorated with three rows of inscribed scenes in a series of frames.
    Spearing Stockman boab nut
  • wooden shield
    Shield

Activities

Match the year to the event

What do you know about Kimberley Aboriginal country?

More activities

Boab nuts

Activity: Look at the Whiteman’s Justice and Spearing Stockmen boab nuts, pictured above, engraved by Jack Wherra. Jack Wherra’s style was influenced by reading comics. In what ways do these two artworks reveal this influence?

Message stick

Activity: Look at the message stick from the Kimberley Aboriginal people, collected in 1884 and pictured above. A message stick told people that the person carrying it had an important message to tell. What signs and symbols do we use today to let people know a person has a particular role or responsibility? For example, how can we identify a postman or a police officer?

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