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Rockingham Bay

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.

Bandjin, Djiru, Girramay, Gugu Badhun, Gulnay, Jirrbal, Nywaigi, Warrgamay, Warungnu country

Rockingham Bay, Queensland

The rainforest peoples of coastal far north Queensland fought a guerrilla war in the 1860s against colonists attracted by opportunities for agriculture and goldmining. Explore how, despite the violence of these encounters in which whole families and clans were lost, the cultures of this area flourish through rich art making traditions and connections to country.

  • A map of Australia showing the location of Rockingham Bay, Queensland.
    Rockingham Bay, Queensland
  • Landscape photo showing a waterway surrounded by a pebbly shore and trees.
    Setting the scene
  • Roughly cylindrical basket woven from fibre, with two small handles extending from the opening.
    Jawun (bicornual basket)
  • An old photo of a man with a basket and child
    Man and child
  • Oblong shaped wooden shield with an intricate deign applied to the surface.
  • An old postcard of a gun resting against a stool with a wooden shield on top.
    Rifle postcard
  • Photograph postcard (black and white); depicts a a wooden shield, an unidentified plant fibre object, and a beaded necklace displayed on a wooden stool, with a snider rifle leaning on the stool
    Men at Cardwell
  • Four clay figures with fibre string adornments and painted surfaces.
    Bagu figures
  • Eight people working at a table. One woman moulds clay and several bagu figures stand on poles at the rear.
    Bagu artists
  • Compile portrait of Leonard Andy (left) and Theresa and Claude Beeron.
    Traditional Owners


Match the words to the pictures

What do you know about Rockingham Bay?

Video stories

Learn about the ancient craft of basket weaving

Watch this video of Girramay Traditional Owner Abe Muriata talking about reviving the ancient weaving techniques of his ancestors.

Activity: In groups, discuss where and how Abe learned to weave baskets, what the baskets are made of, why he wants to learn this skill and how long it takes to make a basket.

Learn about making bagu in the rainforest

Watch Jirrbal and Girramay Traditional Owner Theresa Beeron talk about the meaning behind her bagu.

Activity: Find out more about bagu figures on the Girringun Aboriginal Art Centre website.

More activities


Activity: Have a class discussion about what you think is meant by the opening quote from Djiru Traditional Owner Leonard Andy:

People who come to live here – they think this is paradise. They see the scenery but they don’t see the blood.

Consider how this quote relates to the message on the postcard pictured above, especially the term ‘tally’.

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