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Digital timeline

Digital timeline

Rich and diverse Indigenous cultures continue to flourish across the Australian continent. Explore more about the 27 communities who shared their stories in Encounters. Discover interactions with explorers, settlers and collectors and some of the ways these communities are keeping their culture alive today.

Bark painting, made from ochres on bark, featuring a large sailing boat, with a rectangular sail, containing eight stylised human figures including an oarsman at the vessel's stern. The boat has nine small canoes attached to its side.

Yolgnu people in north-east Arnhem Land trade with visiting Makasar fishermen from Indonesia who came to harvest trepang (sea cucumbers).

about 1700

Gweagal people encounter Lieutenant James Cook at Botany Bay during his voyage up the east coast of Australia, which he later claimed for Britain.


The Aboriginal people around Port Jackson are the first to experience British occupation of their country with the arrival of the First Fleet.


Worrorra people encounter the crew of HMS Bathurst at Hanover Bay on the Kimberley coast of Western Australia.

Ngunnawal, Ngunawal and Ngambri country, Canberra region.

Pastoralists begin moving sheep into the country of the Ngunnawal, Ngunawal and Ngambri peoples of what is now Canberra.


The British establish a military outpost at King George Sound, now Albany, on Menang country.


Tiwi people resist the British establishment of Fort Dundas on Melville Island and the settlement is abandoned after only five years.


Noongar people experience the effects of the British establishing the Swan River Colony, now Perth.


Gai-mariagal men take surveyor William Govett fishing with them at Narrabeen rock platform, Port Jackson.


Menang leader Mokare, who formed close relations with the British settlers of King George Sound, now Albany, dies and is buried in a ceremony attended by British and Menang people.


As a result of Aboriginal resistance to British occupation, 147 Tasmanian Aborigines are exiled to Wybalenna, Flinders Island.


Gunditjmara and Kirrae Whurrong peoples encounter British settlers establishing the first permanent European settlement in Victoria at Portland, in the Warrnambool region.


Tasmanian Aboriginal leader Mannalargenna dies just weeks after he is exiled to Flinders Island.

An old black and white sketch of an unclothed woman with her daughter, who is also without clothes, on her shoulders.

Wiradjuri guides John Piper and Turandurey accompany surveyor Thomas Mitchell as he travels through inland New South Wales.


Meriam people trade goods including turtle shells and weapons with George Kempthorne, commander of the Tigris, on its visit to the Torres Strait.


Kaurna Miyurna people discover British settlers establishing the city of Adelaide in their country.


The first peoples of the Cobourg Peninsula, in west Arnhem Land, witness the British establish a settlement at Port Essington.


Young Noongar man Miago, from Wurerup (Upper Swan), travels from present-day Perth to the Kimberley coast aboard the Beagle.


Gunditjmara people defend their country in the Warrnambool region against the British settlers in what was known as the Eumarella War


Erub people are visited by HMS Fly as part of a British naval project to chart sea routes through the Torres Strait.


Tasmanian Aborigines who survived terrible conditions at Wybalenna are moved to the condemned penal settlement of Oyster Cove.


On Dja Dja Wurrung country John Hunter Kerr establishes Fernyhurst station.

A piece of bark, blackened by fire, on which various figures have been etched, including a human figure pointing a spear at a kangaroo.

Dja Dja Wurrung material collected by John Kerr at Fernyhurst is displayed at the Exposition Universelle de Paris.


Objects collected from the Shoalhaven district, including a hand-stencilled shield, are displayed at the International Exhibition in London.


Robert Christison establishes Lammermoor station in Yirandali country.


The Aboriginal people of the Rockingham Bay area engage in guerilla warfare with the British, who were assisted by the native police, as they established a colonial settlement.


Violent interactions erupt between the Gudang people of Somerset, on the tip of Cape York Peninsula, and the British settlers occupying their country.


The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts establish a mission at Somerset, in Gudang country, which closes the following year.


A spear-thrower made by the Gulidjan or Wadawurrung people is collected by settler Eliza Bromfield at Birregurra.


The Lutheran Church establishes a mission at Lake Killalpaninna on Dieri country.


Dulloom (dillybags) made by Bundjalung women are collected in the Richmond River region by Mary Bundock.

A colour photo of a section of the coastline at putalina (Oyster Cove), Tasmania.

Oyster Cove Aboriginal reserve is closed.


Pastoralists occupy Wangkangurru and Yarluyandi country around the Birdsville region.


Naturalist Carl Alfred Bock visits Makassar, acquiring artefacts, including three Yolngu-made spears from north-east Arnhem Land.


The Torres Strait Islands are annexed by the colony of Queensland.


Aboriginal mission established at La Perouse on the shores of Botany Bay.


British occupation in Kimberley Aboriginal country is marked by the visit of Governor Sir Frederick Napier Broome.


Influential Tudu leader Maino meets anthropologist Alfred Haddon, who also visits the island of Mer.


Englishman Harry Hillier collects objects made by the Dieri people in Killalpaninna, including rounded stones used in a traditional children's game.


Bunuba man Jandamarra begins a war of resistance against British settlers in the West Kimberley.


The Queensland Parliament passes the 'Protection Act' to control the lives of Aboriginal people and remove them from their country.


Bunuba resistance fighter Jandamarra is killed and beheaded at the Battle of Six Mile Creek in the West Kimberley.


Maino welcomes his friend Alfred Haddon, who returns to Mer and Tudu in the Torres Strait as leader of the Cambridge University Anthropological Expedition.

Dugong shaped from grey stone with a cord for suspension and a red ochre strip along the backbone. 1898

Australia is federated, with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people excluded from citizenship.


Last prau from Makassar visits north-east Arnhem Land.


Yirandali people are exiled once the Christison family sell their station at Lammermoor, after they tried but failed to ensure that traditional landowners could remain on country.


Port Darwin's quarantine officer, Dr William Dawson, collects some 50 objects, mostly from Melville Island.

A fibreglass surfboard featuring a rainforest shield design on the front, with a portrait in black and white on the reverse.

George Sibley, great-grandfather of Cairns artist Vernon Ah Kee is photographed by anthropologist Norman Tindale as he visits the Palm Island penal settlement.


Niyikina man Larry Kunamarra from the west Kimberley region receives a Coronation Medal from the Queen, recognising his long service as a police tracker.


In a referendum, the overwhelming support of Australians gave power to the Commonwealth to pass laws in relation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and enable them to be counted in the census.


Near Broome in the Kimberley, Garadyarri man Jack Lee and Yawuru man Jimmy Dawidyi create a headdress for a Gudurrgudurr ceremony.


Meriam man Eddie Mabo begins legal proceedings to recognise his traditional land-ownership.


Gunditjmara Elder Aunt Connie Hart of Lake Condah, west of the Warrnambool region, begins teaching traditional weaving.


The Tasmanian Aboriginal community reclaims Oyster Cove, renaming it putalina.


Oyster Cove is handed back to the Tasmanian Aboriginal community.


Dja Dja Wurrung representatives launch a court challenge against the return to the British Museum of artefacts collected at Fernyhurst in the 1850s, on loan to Museum Victoria. They were unsuccessful.


Tasmanian Aboriginal women take part in tayenebe, a cultural revival project drawing on traditional basket making techniques practised at Flinders Island.


Ngarinyin, Worrorra and Wunambal people attend a week long sustainable harvesting bush camp at Jingeengadi (Wire Yard) where a Ngarinyin man Nuggit Gooditt makes a spearhead from a horseshoe in the Hanover Bay tradition.


Aunty Edna Arnold wears a possum-skin cloak similar to those of her ancestors at Birregurra.This cloak was made to be worn at the opening of the Commonwealth Games.


Gunditjmara people recognised by the Federal Court of Australia as the native title-holders of land and waters in the Portland region, west of the Warrnambool region.

A colour photo of a section of the coastline around Erub (Darnley Island), Torres Strait.

Federal Court recognises native title in the seas of the Torres Strait, including Erub.


Artists from Cardwell in Rockingham Bay create a series of bagu figures, which later went on display in the National Museum of Australia's Encounters exhibition.


Gweagal man Rod Mason makes a gararra (fishing spear) at Cook's landing place, Botany Bay.


Menang man Larry Blight of Albany demonstrates kodj (axe) making to staff at the National Museum in Canberra.


Kurruru Dancers perform at Tarndanyangga (Victoria Square), as part of the Spirit Festival in Adelaide.


Artist Joyce Crombie, of the Wangkangurru and Yarluyandi peoples, paints Nanna's Ready for Dancing, about her family's story in her country around Birdsville.


Noongar man Brett Nannup and daughter Lily Wilson talk bout making a kodj (axe) in Perth.


Clothes and woven fashion accessories created by the Wake Up Time Group from Casino on the Richmond River take to the catwalk at Australian Indigenous Fashion Week in Sydney.


A group of Wiradjuri and non-Indigenous people walk from Buckingbong to Birrego, inland New South Wales, in an act of reconciliation and healing.


Jerrinja artist Noel Wellington following the tradition of tree-carving in his country, creates a carved pole depicting the riches of the Shoalhaven region.


Aboriginal people from West Kimberley perform Jandamarra: Sing for the Country at the Sydney Opera House.


Gudang artist Colina Wymarra paints Eyes of Innocence in response to James Cook's landing at Possession Island.


Cairns artist Vernon Ah Kee creates cantchant – one of a series of surfboard-shaped sculptures that comment on white Australian beach culture.


Opening of Encounters: Revealing Stories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Objects from the British Museum.

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