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Somerset, Cape York

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.

Gudang country

Somerset, Cape York, Queensland

At the northern tip of Cape York, Gudang country attracted colonisers keen to settle near busy Torres Strait trade routes. Pastoralists and missionaries soon followed. Explore the impact these encounters had on the Gudang people and their responses today.

  • A map of Australia showing the location of Somerset, Queensland.
    Somerset, Queensland
  • A landscape image showing green foliage leading up to a beach, with mountains in the distance.
    Setting the scene
  • Headband made from a dingo tail and twine
    Dingo-tail headband
  • Sepia portrait of a young woman wearing a necklace.
    Portrait of a woman from Cape York
  • Necklace consisting of a fibre cord adorned with pearl shell.
    Pearl-shell necklace
  • A contemporary painting of an indigenous Australian with a British flag draped over her.
    Eyes of Innocence
  • Jennifer Wymarra, Gudang, Aunty Maryann Mayor, Gudang, a Gudang ranger, Nicholas Thompson, Gudang, Uncle Meun ‘Shorty’ Lifu, Gudang Elder.
    Gudang community
  • Portrait of Nicholas Thompson
    Nicholas Thompson


Match the terms to the pictures

How much do you know about Somerset?


Learn about the meaning of of objects

Watch this video where Gudang-Yadjaykenu Traditional Owner Nicholas Thompson-Wymarra talks about the history of Somerset and the meaning of objects.

Activity: Objects can carry different meanings, for different people at different times. Choose one of the objects from Gudang country shown above and examine what it might mean to:

  • the person who made it
  • the person who collected it
  • someone seeing it in a museum
  • a descendant of the person who made it.

More activities

Activity: Examine the images and text above, especially ‘Setting the scene’ and read this quote by Aunty Maryann Mayor, a Gudang Elder, in 2014:

It’s always beautiful here. Can’t live here though, that history too recent. Every time we visit, that history right there.

What history is Aunty Maryann referring to, and why do you think it prevents people living in an otherwise beautiful place? Jot down words or phrases that come to mind. After a couple of minutes, share your perspectives, then work in pairs or small groups to identify common themes or surprising responses.

This activity has been drawn from the class ‘wraparound’ discussion outlined on the Facing History and Ourselves website.

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