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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.

Dja Dja Wurrung country

Fernyhurst, Victoria

By the 1860s, the wide fertile plains of Dja Dja Wurrung country were occupied by British pastoralists. Some Dja Dja Wurrung people established a relationship with one pastoralist, John Hunter Kerr. Explore how artefacts collected by Kerr at this time continue to speak to the Dja Dja Wurrung people of today.

  • A map of Australia indicating the location of Fernyhurst, Victoria.
    Fernyhurst, Victoria
  • Setting the scene
    Setting the scene
  • A piece of bark, blackened by fire, on which various figures have been etched, including a human figure pointing a spear at a kangaroo.
    Bark etching
  • An etching on bark, with sticks tied to either end.
    Back in Country bark etching
  • A belt woven from red fibrous material, to which bunches of emu feathers have been form a skirt.
    Barramul (emu-feather dance skirt)
  • Two women wearing emu feather skirts, emu feather headpieces and holding wooden clapsticks stand in front of a crowd of people.
    Tanderrum emu dancers


Match the text to the pictures

What do you know about Fernyhurst?

Video stories

Learn about honouring objects

Watch this video where Dja Dja Wurrung Elder Aunty Fay Carter says: ‘How many things can we point at and say ... this is our history, this is part of our history, our ancestors did this’.

Activity: In pairs, make notes about what Fay wants to happen to the bark etchings. Do you agree with her ideas? Explain your opinion.

Explore the message of the barks

Watch this video of Dja Dja Wurrung man Rodney Carter speaking about bark etchings that are held at the British Museum in London: ‘In Britain they’re not as valuable as they could potentially be if they were interpreted in the context they were created for’.

Activity:  Discuss what makes an object valuable to you.

More activities

Museums and collections

Activity: Have a class discussion on whether you believe it is the role of museums to collect materials and display objects. Be sure to consider this quote by Dja Dja Wurrung man Rodney Carter:

I think the importance of having cultural items within a museum is that they’re not necessarily there to serve myself or my people, but it’s about the broader population of visitors to museums. Those materials communicate to people who visit and make the time to look at those materials, look at the information surrounding those materials, the conversation around those materials. That’s why I believe museums need to collect materials and display objects.

Barramul (emu-feather dance skirt)

Activity: The barramul, or emu-feather dance skirt pictured above, is used in ceremonies by Dja Dja Wurrung women. Think of a ceremony you have participated in. List and describe the specific clothes, ornaments or objects that are part of that ceremony.

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