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Early Contact

Cultural collision

Large Aboriginal flag held up in front of a young audience
Photo: George Serras, National Museum of Australia

Maps can tell us a lot about how people see their country. Modern maps of Australia show state boundaries and borders, whereas a map drawn by an Aboriginal person tells their Country's stories, good food sources and water holes.

In Early Contact students handle a range of Indigenous and non-Indigenous objects to explore and discuss the two vastly different cultures that collided during the European settlement of Australia. Students consider the impact of early European settlement upon Indigenous Australians.


Year levels3–6
Group size30 students (note that two groups can run concurrently)
Duration90 minutes
Cost$6 per student (2017)
$7 per student (2018)
AvailabilityTuesday–Friday at 10am and 1pm

Alternative times may be available for local schools. Please contact for further information.
Curriculum linksAustralian History curriculum links to our programs (225kb PDF)


  • Give students an opportunity to handle and interpret objects that show how Aboriginal peoples lived before 1788.
  • Facilitate students' exploration of Indigenous and European cultures and help them to understand the impact of early contact between the two cultures.


  1. Introductory activity – through discussion, the investigation of maps and objects, students discover how Indigenous peoples lived before early European settlement and the changes that occurred after contact.
  2. Gallery activity – students visit specific areas in the First Australians gallery and draw objects that show changes in the ways Indigenous peoples lived both before and after European colonisation of Australia.
  3. Reflection – students gather to discuss the objects they found and how they have changed since European colonisation.

Exploring the Museum

For everything you need to know about visiting, see Plan and book a visit.

Related resources

These classroom activities might be useful in your classroom.

You may also be interested in the following teacher resources:

or these interactives:

You can also see the full list of resources related to Indigenous Australia.