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WARNING: Visitors should be aware that this website includes images and names of deceased people that may cause sadness or distress to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.


Stories of resistance

'Duggai gulli yahngu – the whitefellas are here to stay.' (Yugambeh community, south-east Queensland, 1872)

The lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples were profoundly changed by the arrival of British colonists in 1788. Lives were lost and land taken as the colonisers attempted to impose new social, economic and religious orders. New animals, plants and diseases were introduced.

Indigenous people responded in a variety of ways. Some fought back with weapons. Others developed different strategies to survive this new and hostile presence. Here we present four of these stories.

'Ngulli yahnbai gulli bahn! – we are still here now!' (Yugambeh community, south-east Queensland, 1986)
Street sign that reads 'Yagan Mews'

Yagan (c.1795-1833) is well-known to both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people and remains a symbolic figure in contemporary Noongar history.

Black and white photo of Fanny Balbuk

Fanny Balbuk (1840-1907) was a prominent Noongar woman, born during the early years of British settlement on Matagarup (Heirisson Island) in Perth, Western Australia. Balbuk is renowned for protesting about the occupation of her traditional land and continues to be remembered within the contemporary Noongar community.

Black and white photo of Bilin Bilin

Bilin Bilin (c.1820-1901) was a prominent leader of the Yugambeh people of south-east Queensland. Bilin Bilin is remembered by his descendants for his efforts to maintain his culture and identity in the face of the British occupation of his country.

Three people examining a rifle

The Coniston Massacre (1928) was a violent and unjust series of events in central Australia in which over 60 Aboriginal people died. Memories of these events still resonate with Aboriginal people today. The Massacre provides one example of the violence which often accompanied the spread of colonial settlement in Australia.