Since the giant eagle Bundjil created the Kulin nation and its lands some 50,000 years ago, Indigenous people have occupied the area now known as Melbourne. Storytelling was an essential part of their life: law and culture were communicated orally and through painting, song and dance. Arguably, the first ‘writing’ in this place took the form of rock carving, bark painting, sand drawing, and pokerwork on possum-skin cloaks. Today, the Koorie Heritage Trust works to promote, support and celebrate Aboriginal culture and history through various programs and services. For further information, and to visit their premises, which features exhibitions, a gallery and shop, the Koorie Heritage Trust is located in The Yarra Building, Federation Square.
For the latest in contemporary Indigenous playwriting, seek out a production by ILBIJERRI, Australia’s longest running Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander theatre company. The First Nations Australia Writers’ Network, which advocates and lobbies on behalf of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in order to sustain and enhance First Nations writing and storytelling. Noted Victorian writers include Alexis Wright, who won the 2007 Miles Franklin Literary Award for her novel Carpentaria, Tony Birch, author of Ghost River, about two teenage boys living in the inner city slums of Collingwood and hanging around the polluted Yarra River, Bruce Pascoe, NSW Book of the Year author of Dark Emu, and who also writes short stories, children’s books and novels, and Richard Frankland, playwright, musician and film-maker.