Aboriginal Heroes of the Past

Aboriginal people have been sharing this country with other cultures since 1788 and while there has been much tragedy in that time, there have also been real friendships and collaborations. We are all enriched whenever we can see people show courage, generosity, intelligence, or talent, and so these stories of heroes who reached out to help when help was needed deserve to be better known. Discover an Australian history of bridge builders, from Arabanoo, the first Aboriginal to speak English, through explorers, fighters, rescuers, negotiators, trackers, athletes and artists.


  • This class will be delivered online via the online platform Zoom.
  • This course requires students to have an email, a reliable internet connection, a microphone/speakers and access to a tablet, smartphone or computer.

First Contact

  • The first friendships: Arabanoo, Bennelong, Coleby
  • Earliest guerrilla fighters: Pemulwuy, Tedbury, Musquito
  • Two worlds: Balloderry, Harry Corrangie

Shared land

  • Rescuers: Warri of Gundagai, Sam Isaacs and Grace Bussell
  • Explorers: Bungaree and Flinders, Jacky Jacky and Edmund Kennedy, Wylie and Edward John Eyre
  • "Black Trackers"
  • Later fighters: Jundamurra, Yagan, Nemarluk


  • Athletes: Johnny Mulagh, Lionel Rose
  • Artists: Albert Namajira, Robert Tudwali
  • Negotiators: Mokare, William Barak, Charles Perkins


By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  1. Outline many stories of Aboriginal heroes and partnerships between Aboriginal and non Aboriginal Australians.
  2. Discuss the negotiations of value within those collaborations.
  3. Appreciate the cultural differences that had to be negotiated to reach any positive outcome.
  4. Respect contributions of Aboriginal Australians to Australian history.
  5. Take pride in the diversity of forms of heroism in our shared history.

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