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Canberra region

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.

Ngunnawal, Ngunawal and Ngambri country

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory

The Ngunnawal, Ngunawal and Ngambri peoples have lived in the country that is now the Canberra region for more than 20,000 years. Explore the Aboriginal heritage and spirituality of the region today. 

  • A map of Australia indicating the location of Canberra in the Australian Capital Territory .
    Canberra, Australian Capital Territory
  • Ngunnawal, Ngunawal and Ngambri country, Canberra region
    Setting the scene
  • An off-white stone artefact with flaked edges.
    Stone scraper
  • A painting on canvas which features a horizontal wavy black line across the centre, four coloured sections either side of the black line, and two large orange dots to the right..
    My Country painting
  • A painting on canvas depicting a platypus outlined in beige against a brown background.
    Mulanggang (platypus) painting
  • A painting on canvas containing a number of motifs including moths, human figures and hand stencils.
    Kicked out of Parliament painting


Match the pictures to the words

What do you know about Canberra?

Video story

Learn about the Welcome to Country

Watch this video featuring representatives of the traditional custodians of the Canberra region: Adrian Brown, Ngunnawal; Tina Brown, Ngunnawal; Wally Bell, Ngunawal; and Matilda House, Ngambri.


Activity: Why do you think it is important for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to welcome people to their country? Can you think of other customs or protocols that apply when moving from one region or country to another?

More activities

My Country painting

Activity: Ngunnawal man Adrian Brown says his My Country painting, above, connects him to his country: 

These are the colours of my country. Every stroke in the painting has meaning and connects to that part of my country.

Do you feel connected to the place where you live or were born? What colours and symbols would you use to represent your country?

Mulanggang painting

Activity: Ngunawal Elder Wally Bell says his platypus painting, above, represents the significance of water to him and his country:

Walan [water] is needed by all of us – plants, animals and people. Caring for our waterways is everyday work. 

What animal could you use to represent something of significance to you or the region where you live?

Kicked out of Parliament painting

Activity: Ngambri Elder Jim ‘Boza’ Williams’ talks about the traditional significance of bogong moths to his people:

The bogong numbers are too low – too much city not enough bush, too many lights.

Think about how changes in the environment brought about by European settlement disrupted the lives of Indigenous peoples in your area.

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