Melbourne - Urban indigenous culture
The Melbourne Museum
As well as housing collections spanning the breadth of Melbournian history and discovery, the Melbourne Museum contains the Bunjilaka Aboriginal Culture Centre - one of the vastest collections of Aboriginal artefacts and knowledge in the world as well as a community space for the indigenous people to meet, share their cultural heritage and perform sacred or creative rituals. It represents a uniquely Aboriginal perspective, opening the doors of Aboriginal culture to non-indigenous people whilst retaining a sense of place and empowerment.
The first Europeans to settle in the Port Philip area where Melbourne is found would have come across a multitude of exotic tongues grouped in five distinct tribal languages including the fascinating Kulin nation whose descendents still carry on the Aboriginal traditions to this day. These traditions can now be discovered by exploring Melbourne's extensive heritage cultural centres and trails. Explore the Dreamtime - the sacred Aboriginal myth of origins and creation which is represented in rock art, carvings, sculptures and paintings.
This spiritual and mystical period of aboriginal history comes alive through a visit to one of Melbourne's many indigenous galleries, or out along the Aboriginal Heritage walk. Likewise, the Ian Potter Centre at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) is another must-see for those interested in seeing and learning more about indigenous art and the influence it has had on contemporary Australian artistic works. There are six principle centres for Aboriginal heritage, arts and culture in Melbourne.
The Ian Potter Centre : NGV
One of the biggest collections of Aboriginal art in the world, the Ian Potter Centre contains over 200,000 pieces of which 800 are temporarily on display in rotating exhibitions. The art dates back to the Colonial period and includes many new and exciting young artists.
The Koorie Heritage Trust
The Koorie Heritage Trust stands out for its incredible oral history centre documenting the culture of the South-Eastern Australian tribes. The Koorie trust is also an art gallery and resource library.
The Royal Botanical Gardens Aboriginal Heritage Walk
Take part in a Smoking Ceremony with an Aboriginal guide in the beautiful grounds of this, Melbourne's most famous park.
The park houses a vast number of indigenous plants used for centuries as healing and medicinal remedies by the Aboriginals, during your visit you will learn to identify them and their uses as well as find out how the indigenous peoples used tools and cooked.
Located just outside Melbourne in Geelong, Narana Creations is a great day out for the family, an Aboriginal cultural interpretation centre where families can listen to Dreamtime stories, digeridoo performances, captivating events, take a stroll in the gardens filled with birds or pick up original artwork in the craft shop.
Burrinja Gallery and Cultural Centre
An evocative and experiential centre, Burrinja takes the art gallery concept to a new level showcasing music, dance, film and theatrical performance within its spaces, as well as boasting an art collection encompassing works from indigenous peoples from across Australia. The gallery also contains works from New Britain and New Ireland in Papua New Guinea and the café is a great place to hang out after taking in the sights.
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