NAIDOC Week 2014

NAIDOC Week 2014

This week it’s NAIDOC Week, a national celebration which recognises the culture, history and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.  There is much to celebrate and families can take part in these celebrations happening around Melbourne and beyond.

If your primary school years were back in the 1980’s like mine, it’s likely that your Australian history is limited to all things post European settlement.  The fact that so little is known about the people who were owned by this land so harmoniously for 40,000 years before our European relatives arrived is one of the great tragedies of our history.

A search of the internet for information specific to the Woi wurrung people uncovered much of the same brief story (I have cobbled together some of it below for you).  And the more I read the more confused I became between groups, families, mobs, clans and tribes – it’s quite complex and missing easy to understand graphics (I am a pictures person).

Melbourne Museum

All NAIDOC activities are included with entry fee.  Click here for more information.

Koorie History Day: Bunjilaka kicks off NAIDOC Week 2014 in grand style with a series of workshops and talks dedicated to Koorie History. Learn how to track down your mob, find out where resources are located, and discover some of the amazing stories that might be revealed.

When: Sunday 6 July, 10am-3pm

Hip-Hop Dance Workshops: Join Nikki from TV’s “Move it Mob Style” for a hip-hop dance workshop incorporating traditional Koorie dance. Learn how to pop and lock, keep fit and have fun all at the same time.

When: 7, 8, 10, 12 and 13 July

The Connies: Meet Melbourne’s famous Connies – tram conductors, tellers of tales and spruikers of Victorian history.

When: 6 July to 13 July, 11am-3pm

Story Time at Bunjilaka: Meet Bunjilaka’s story tellers on the Welcome Rug and hear some of the most beloved traditional Koorie stories from across Victoria.

When: 8 July to 13 July

National Gallery of Victoria

NGV Culture Camp:  an exciting new school holiday program for young people aged 13-17 years. During NAIDOC Week, enjoy working with some of Australia’s leading Indigenous artists, musicians and creative professionals and have the opportunity to meet likeminded teens at the Gallery.  Fully supervised, with optional family participation. Bookings essential, click here.


  • Wednesday 9 July, 10am-1pm, Weaving and printmaking with contemporary artist Jonathon Jones
  • Thursday 10 July, 10am-1pm, Theatre with Melodie Reynolds-Diarra (Malthouse Theatre)
  • Friday 11 July, 10am-1pm, Dance with choreographer and hip-hop dancer Nikki Ashby

Where: Meet at Information Desk,Ground Level, NGV Australia

Cost: $25 ($20 members) per day, or attend every day for $75 ($ 60 members)

SKIN Choir: Join the SKIN Choir, a unique group of Victorian Indigenous musicians and songwriters, for this special performance in celebration of NAIDOC Week. The SKIN Choir share their perspective on what it means to be Indigenous in modern Australia, with songs about cultural identity and living with mainstream stereotyping.

When: Sat 12 Jul, 2-3pm

Where: Indigenous Galleries, Ground Level, NGV Australia

Cost: Free

Peninsula Hot Springs

All NAIDOC activities are included with entry fee.  Click here for more information.

Li’tya Product Demonstrations: Listen to trained spa therapists who will share the story behind the beautiful spa range ‘Li’tya’ (which means ‘Of the Earth’). Experience the product first hand by gaining an understanding of the luxurious native ingredients and how they benefit the skin.

When: 7,9,10 & 12 July, 10-11am

Sunset Dreaming Performance: Take part in an interactive experience of dancing, face painting, storytelling, smoking ceremony and plenty more. Suitable for the whole family.

When: 7, 9 & 11 July, 11am – 2pm

Art Workshops brought to you by Baluk Arts: Make your Own Natural Jewellery: Using locally sourced seeds, seed pods, shells and colourful feathers gathered from the surroundings of the Mornington Peninsula.

When: Tuesday 8 July, 11am – 2pm

Art Workshops brought to you by Baluk Arts: Boomerang Burning Artwork: Burn your own designs into a boomerang or come and watch Bob the Burner as he displays this ancient art form.

When: Thursday 10 July, 11am – 2pm

Didgeridoo Meditations: Let the hypnotic vibrations of Lionel’s didgeridoo playing lull you into a deep meditation during your evening bathing experience.

When: 8 & 11 July, 7.30 – 8.30pm

Rivertribe Performance: Rivertribe are a Melbourne based duo, that have been heard at many of the world’s biggest busker and street festivals. Their unique sound is a tribal dance fusion featuring atmospheric grooves, the Didgeridoo and world percussion.

When: Saturday 12 July, 12 – 3pm

For more NAIDOC events click here.

Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne

The Botanic Gardens will honour all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women who have fought in defence of country.  The event includes Ron Murray Didgeridoo and Indigenous storytelling, Welcome to Country, Free barbecue, Dance workshops, Bark painting, Clap stick decorating and other crafts.

When:  Wednesday 9 July, 10am – 3pm

Where:  Australian Garden (and other spots)

Cost: FREE

For more information click here.


Some background to Melbourne’s first people.

Approximately 40,000 years BP all parts of the Australian continent had been colonised by Aboriginal people.  These late Pleistocene Aboriginal people represent the ancestors of the Woi wurrung as they were recorded in the early 19th Century. They were contemporary with the large late Pleistocene animals collectively known as megafauna and were witness to broad climatic and physiographic changes caused by the Last Glacial Maximum (Ice Age).

Around the time of European settlement, the Kulin nation, now known as Australia, consisted of 500 – 700 Aboriginal nations, each with their own systems of government, cultural practices, religions and languages.

The Woi wurrung people occupied 12,000 square kilometres in Victoria and it is estimated there were about 1700 of them in the years before white settlement divided into four clans (land-owning groups).  For most of the year, the Woi wurrung lived in groups of between twenty and fifty people. They assembled as a clan or larger group only a few times a year to have celebrations or conduct business.

The Wurundjeri are one of the clans of the Woi wurrung language group, occupying the Birrarung Valley, its tributaries and the present location of Melbourne. Prior to European settlement, they lived as all people of the Kulin nation lived, on the land, predominantly as hunters and gatherers, for tens of thousands of years. Seasonal changes in the weather, availability of foods and other factors would determine where campsites were located.

Land boundaries for each clan of the Woi wurrung poeple were clearly defined, with strict protocols governing access to the land of other clans. While each clan or family group travelled on its own, they still maintained relationships with others within their language group. Marriage played an important role in this, as people would not marry within their own clan. Instead, partners were chosen from different clans within the Kulin nation.  Visiting the land of other clans was therefore an important and necessary right.

The Wurundjeri mined diorite at Mount William stone axe quarry which was a source of the highly valued greenstone hatchet heads, which were highly prized and traded across a wide area as far as New South Wales and Adelaide. The mine provided a complex network of trading for economic and social exchange among the different Aboriginal nations in Victoria. The Quarry had been in use for more than 1,500 years and covered 18 hectares including underground pits of several metres. In February 2008 the site was placed on the Australian National Heritage List for its cultural importance and archeological value.

First Nations Map, taken from

First Nations Map, taken from


Taken from