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 is 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 who are Australia’s longest running Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander theatre company. The First Nations Australia Writers’ Network, advocates and lobbies on behalf of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in order to sustain and enhance First Nations writing and storytelling. Locally Victoria has the Indigenous Literary Festival, Blak & Bright. Victoria is also home of Blak Brow a very special Issue 40 of The Lifted Brow – an edition created entirely and independently by a First Nations collective of editors, curators, academics, designers, and activists. It was filled with new work by First Nations writers and visual artists, and focuses particularly on blak women – their stories, ideas, opinions, and art. (Note: the term ‘blak’, coined by artist Destiny Deacon in 1990, names the lived experience and identity of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Peoples.)

Noted Victorian writers include Alexis Wright, who won the 2007 Miles Franklin Literary Award for her novel Carpentaria, and is the first writer to win the Stella Prize twice – in 2018 for Tracker and in 2024 for Praiseworthy – and she is the Boisbouvier Chair in Australian Literature at the University of Melbourne; 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.

We highly recommend this list of recommended reads from Indigenous Australians