First Nations stories

Read and reflect on First Nations history, culture and experience

'Day of Mourning' Aboriginal meeting on 26 January 1938 at Australian Hall, Sydney, NSW
First Nations

Day of Mourning

January 26 has long been a day of debate and civic action. Those who celebrate may be surprised of the date’s significance in NSW as a protest to the celebrations of the anniversary of the arrival of the First Fleet on what was then “Anniversary Day” in NSW

Close up view of Steven Russel and Phyllis Stewart 'Untitled (woven Sydney Opera House)', 2023 - The People's House marketing & installation photoshoot - The People's House marketing & installation photoshoot
First Nations

How to weave an opera house

Inspired by a stunning shellworked model of the Sydney Opera House by Bidjigal artist Esme Timbery, First Nations curator Tess Allas commissioned a woven model of the iconic building from master weavers Steven Russell and Phyllis Stewart

Campaign photos for Cutter and Coota, featuring a performer dressed in a possum skin cloak posing within the grounds of the Hyde Park Barracks.

Cutter and Coota: a children’s play by Bruce Pascoe

Meet author and historian Bruce Pascoe and the main characters from his play Cutter and Coota as they reflect on the play’s themes and the experience of performing at the Hyde Park Barracks

Sergeant Tracker Alexander ‘Alec’ Riley wearing his police uniform

Alexander Riley, legendary Aboriginal police tracker

The remarkable talents of Aboriginal trackers who worked for NSW Police in the 20th century are featured in a display at the Justice & Police Museum

Harold Blair sings at a piano played by Marjorie Lawrence

Paving the way ... Harold Blair: The first Aboriginal opera singer

A short documentary that offers a glimpse into the life of Harold Blair, a world-renowned tenor, family man and political campaigner who sought social justice and human rights for Australia’s First Nations people

Todd Duncan (baritone) with Harold Blair, c.1950s

Harold Blair, trailblazer

Wulli Wulli tenor Harold Blair AM was Australia’s first professionally trained Aboriginal opera singer

Owner bound volume of assorted songs, in the collection of Rouse Hill House & Farm, 1850-1864. [music]

‘Gii, Gundhi (Hearts and Homes)’

A single song can have a thousand meanings depending on its interpreter. Yuwaalaraay storyteller and musician Nardi Simpson shares her version of a 19th-century parlour song

Weaving lomandra on Gumeroi country

Weaving their magic: Amy Hammond and Lorrelle Munro

We spoke to weavers Amy and Lorrelle, co-founders of Yinarr Maramali and weavers-in-residence at The Weaving Room in the Museum of Sydney

Digital image for Transubstantiation realised as photographic print on aluminium panel.,

Transubstantiation by Danie Mellor

Transubstantiation explores the means by which the intended and purposeful use of land was changed during Australia’s early colonial history

Attack of Historians, Julie Gough, 2019, hand-coloured copper plate etching, edition 7/10

Silenced history

Q&A with artist and curator Julie Gough

Five images of composers done as composite image.
Songs of home

Contemporary First Peoples Composers

Australia holds one of the oldest living cultures in the world, and First Nations music making is the oldest continuing form of music making

Paiting showing a first nations man in front of a vallay with what look like new buildings in the background
First Nations

To speak the unspoken

For Aboriginal people, the Hyde Park Barracks and the convict system it oversaw represent a very different ‘founding narrative’, one that needs to be told in Aboriginal voices

Handpainted image from book of woman in canoe. Margins of page visible on left and right.
First Nations

A fisher woman of Warrane

Daringa’s short but fascinating life reflects the connection of coastal Aboriginal peoples to the water, and the key role played by women in the fishing economy

Paiting showing boats and Aboriginal people in canoes
First Nations

The convict impact on Aboriginal people

Impacts of the convict system on Aboriginal Country and communities

Q&A: Jonathan Jones

The artist’s major installation at the Hyde Park Barracks inspired visitors to consider the dual history of this important site

A collection of old printed documents

Cummeragunja Walk Off

This page marks the 80th anniversary of the Cummeragunja Walk Off which began in February 1939 and ended nine months later in October/November.

Stone monument with plaque with distant view behind.
First Nations

Frontier violence

Violence at the frontier

First Nations

Massacre at Appin, 17 April 1816

On the early morning of 17 April 1816 at least 14 people of the Dharawal tribe were killed when James Wallis’ detachment encountered a camp at Appin near the banks of the Cataract River

A white building set into a green hillside
First Nations

Kia ora: compelling Kiwi stories

Telling authentic Indigenous stories from our sites with care is an important challenge

First Nations

Maria Lock’s 1831 petition

This extraordinary document is of great interest historically – and, as Dr Penny Stannard discovered, it also contains a moving connection to her own family that continues to resonate down the generations

The forecourt in front of the Museum of Sydney
First Nations

The future of the colony's dreaming

The Museum of Sydney site is set to be transformed into a new First Nations cultural space

First Nations Speaker Series Logo

First Nations Speaker Series

Presented in collaboration with GML Heritage and the Research Centre for Deep History at the Australian National University