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.
Here you can take a virtual tour of the displays and read more information about the stories found in the First Australians gallery.
The upper level of the gallery features a rich array of exhibitions about specific Indigenous communities. The lower level of the gallery focuses on aspects of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history since 1788.
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Fighting for our rights: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander incarceration
Photo: George Serras.
Aboriginal people are overrepresented in all forms of custody. John Johnson, an Aboriginal artist now living in Canberra, was gaoled in Darwin when he was 15 years old for stealing a packet of cigarettes and a can of drink. His artwork The Last Wave is his response to his time in gaol.
Dhari a Krar
Photo: Dean McNicoll.
Dhari a Krar was an exhibition featuring traditional and contemporary Torres Strait headdresses and masks. Using objects, images, and media, the gallery examined Torres Strait Island communities and their diversity of languages and cultural practices.
Photo: George Serras.
Lockhart River is home to the Pama Malngkana or Sandbeach people. The town lies on a narrow coastal strip between two of Australia's great geographical features: the Great Barrier Reef to the east and the Great Dividing Range to the west. It is the most northerly town on eastern Cape York Peninsula.
Its extreme remoteness, combined with an annual rainfall of about 200 centimetres, which washes away roads and isolates the town for months at a time, makes life difficult. But, Sandbeach people celebrate the beauty and diversity of their place, and the richness of its natural resources, including fish, turtle, dugong, shellfish and a wide variety of plant foods.
The exhibit on display gives a glimpse into aspects of life for the people of Lockhart River, from the time of the Anglican Mission at Ba'il (Bare Hill) near Cape Direction to the present, and to the intricacy of some of the material culture still practiced and new aspects of cultural life and expression.
Lockhart River man Patrick Butcher is pictured in the gallery with a canoe on loan from the University of Queensland's Anthropology Museum.