Australia's Koorie Culture

14 February, 2010

Murnong, Yam Daisy, <I>Microseris lanceolata</I>
Murnong, Yam Daisy, Microseris lanceolata
Image: Siobhan Motherway
Source: Museum Victoria

Question: Where can I go to learn more about Koorie culture?

Answer: Indigenous people have lived in complex and diverse societies for over 60,000 years, with over 250 different languages spoken across the country. Whilst people in the south-east of Australia often refer to Aboriginal people as Koorie, it is important to remember that this term usually refers to people from the south-east, and that Aboriginal people from other language areas will have their own preferred terms.

Australia’s Indigenous cultures are very diverse, and there will be different and fascinating things to learn all over the country. If you live in the Melbourne area there are many places to go and learn about the history and culture of this region. Before the area around Melbourne was occupied by European settlers, the land was home to five language groups later given the collective name of the Kulin Nation. These were the Woiwurrung, Boon Wurrung, Taungerong, Dja Dja Wrung and Wathaurong peoples.

Here at Museum Victoria, we have the Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre. Bunjilaka’s exhibition galleries, native garden and performance space are intended to give Indigenous people a chance to present and interpret their own stories to a variety of audiences through art, oral histories, material culture and performances.

The Koorie Heritage Trust in the heart of Melbourne’s CBD offers an award-winning centre for education and cross-cultural interaction. Services they offer to the wider community include art workshops, educational programs and cultural tours.

Another interesting excursion is the Royal Botanic Gardens’ Aboriginal heritage walk. Conducted by an Indigenous staff team, this walk is an introduction to local customs and heritage, with a focus on local plants used for food, tools and medicine.

The internet is a good resource for information, with many sites devoted to general Aboriginal history, contemporary Indigenous culture and the lives and histories of specific groups and people. Have a look at the online resources listed on the right hand side of this page as a starting point, and don’t forget your local library.

Comments (4)

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Eleanor, Wee 20 January, 2011 17:18
Hi, I'm curently trying to search a local Koorie community's local customs to enable me plan an activity to children that shows acceptance of Aboriginal culture and also is appropriate for that particular local area. This is an assignment I have to complete for Children Services Cert. III. I would truly appreciate if you can advise me who I should contact. Thank your kind assistance. Eleanor
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Kate Gillespie 5 November, 2013 20:19
Hi Eleanor, I often find myself engaged in the search you are currently undertaking. I work with Koorie community on Caring for Country projects and seek out links to traditional practice broadly. I sugggest you do it face to face in respect for the oral tradition. Perhaps start with the Koorie Heritage Trust, a living connection to Culture and a place where you see many groups respresented.
Discovery Centre 21 January, 2011 14:29
Hi Eleanor - there are a couple of agencies that might be able to help, such as the Indigenous section of the Department of Planning and Community Development, http://www.dpcd.vic.gov.au/indigenous/aboriginal-cultural-heritage or perhaps the Koorie Heritage Trust, at http://www.koorieheritagetrust.com/about_the_trust
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Janine Moloney 17 June, 2013 12:46
Hi, I would like to name our house on Lake Eildon with an aboriginal name. The clan from that area is Taungerong. Do you have/know a list of english & aboriginal words from that area. I am having trouble finding one. Thank you, janine.
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