Skip to Navigation

Indigenous culture

Indigenous Language Arts Project - Singing Up Country


Bundjalung Language Colouring In book Project

Byron Shire Council has received  funding to run an Indigenous Language Arts Project. As part of this project we will be making a colouring book to help Jarjums learn Bundjalung language.

Artworks will be submitted to a selection panel made up of local Aboriginal elders, community leaders and artists.

Please submit your artwork for the selection panel by Wednesday 31 August 2016.

Artists will be paid one fee of $200 to use each artwork, for the life of the colouring in book project. Artists can submit more than one artwork.

Copy right of all Artworks submitted will remain with the artists.

Themes for the colouring in books:

• Animals

• Plants

• Actions

• Place names

• Things or activities that children can relate to

• Greetings

• Human Body – head, hands, feet etc.


Gharigan is the story of local wetland birds and the breeding cycle of the Gharigan - White Crane. The Gharigan dance, meet, mate, brood, defend and breed as the story shows the interaction between wetland species. With contemporary music the dancers beautifully captivate the audience with a story of love and war for survival.

Gharigan is told on Bundjalung Country and the dancers with the rest of the Bunyarra Culture Collective, offer their respect and acknowledge the Arakwal, Widjabul and Minjunbal people of the Brunswick Heads catchment and to the people of the wider Bundjalung nation.

Bunyarra Culture Collective is a local expression of traditional and contemporary Aboriginal dance, music and painting. Gharigan was created by Bunyarra to further engage audiences in stories of culture and country and showcase contemporary cultural practice. Bunyarra Culture Collective work together respect, preserve and protect ancient culture and create a contemporary expression of Aboriginal culture with the ultimate objective to engage our young people in empowerment through Cultural practice.

This project is being delivered by Byron Shire Council in partnership with Bunyarra Culture Collective and funded by the Indigenous Languages Fund.


Aboriginal Arts Exhibitions

In 2015 Byron Shire Council have secured funding from the Aboriginal Regional Arts Fund offered by Arts NSW to run a series of Aboriginal Arts Exhibitions. The exhibitions are themed around the seasons and the artists relationship to country as the seasons change.

Our main objectives are:

  • To provide opportunities for Aboriginal artists to develop their careers and gain an income from artwork
  • To build Indigenous networks in our community
  • To explore connection to country through the seasons
  • To continue cultural practice
  • To increase vibrancy and visibility of culture and art in our community

The first of the exhibitions is SPRING and will be held at the Byron Community Centre from Thursday 22 October until Monday 26 October.  Featured artists include Nickolla Clark, Kaitlyn Clark, Rhiannon Clark, Nigel Stewart, Sean Kay, Jason Campbell, Dhinawan Baker, Leanne Hamilton, Belle Budden and guests.

The SUMMER exhibition will be launched on 5 February 2016.  Any Indigenous artists interested in participating should contact

General Information

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flag

The Aboriginal flag

The Aboriginal flag was recognized under Federal legislation, as was the Torres Strait Islands flag, in July 1995. The Aboriginal flag was first displayed on 12 July 1971, National Aborigines' Day at Victoria Square in Adelaide. It was also used at the 'Tent Embassy' in Canberra in 1972.

Designed by Aboriginal Elder Harold Thomas in 1971, this flag symbolizes Aboriginal identity. Yellow represents the sun (giver of life) and yellow ochre. Red represents the red earth (the relationship to the land) and the red ochre used in ceremonies. Black represents the Aboriginal people.

The flag is flown or displayed permanently at Aboriginal centres throughout Australia. It is popularly recognized as the flag of the Aboriginal peoples of Australia and should only be flown by other Australians when permission has been granted.

Torres Strait Islands flag

The flag, designed by Islander Mr Bernard Namok, was adopted in 1992. Green represents the islands, blue the sea and black the local Melanesian people. A stylized dancer's head-dress known as a DARI, and a five pointed star appear on the flag. The star alludes to the five main island zones and is sometimes interpreted as a symbol of the "Coming of the Light" - Christianity.

Byron Shire's Aboriginal Heritage - The Bundjalung Nation

The Bundjalung Nation encompasses all of the Far North Coast Region and extends from the Clarence River in the south to the Logan River in the north, and to the foothills of the Great Dividing Range in the west. Bundjalung is a name derived from a clan name of this diverse group related by language and culture.

The Bundjalung people are comprised of many clans or tribes with distinct countries or tribal custodial areas. These people were never a nation politically pre European settlement, but shared a commonality through languages and culture in the Northern Rivers Region. Each tribal group post colonisation maintained distinct tribal identities.

The Bundjalung people across the Northern Rivers region are represented by a Council of Elders comprising respected Elders from the different clans of the Bundjalung language group. The Council of Elders is an important consultative group for local Aboriginal people and is recognised as such by the wider community and government bodies.

It is acknowledged that Byron Shire contains a wealth of Aboriginal cultural sites which include middens, stone arrangements, rock shelters and tool-making sites. Additionally, many Aboriginal words have survived in the names of places within the Shire (e.g. Mullumbimby and Billinudgel). These all testify to the long period of occupation of this area by Aboriginal people prior to the arrival of Europeans.

Protection and preservation of culturally significant areas and the environment is very important to the Bundjalung of Byron Bay Arakwal people and wider Bundjalung people. The landscape around the Byron Shire has many culturally significant areas that are inter-related. These include the lands and waters, plants and animals, special places and stories. The Bundjalung people in the Shire have a focus on caring for country through bush regeneration, working on and managing national parks, and educating visitors and residents on respectful behaviour and protocols. There are culturally significant programs through many of the Shire's schools that are growing in strength. 'Welcome to Country' is performed at many events held in the Shire.

In the words of the Bundjalung of Byron Bay Arakwal People...

Our Aboriginal culture gives us a sense of belonging to the land, the sea and to each other. It links the past, present and future and is expressed through our stories, art and songs, our dance and ceremony, and the way we understand and respect Country. Much has been handed down from our ancestors over a long time and we work to keep this valuable knowledge and connection to Country alive. Maintaining our cultural traditions and looking after Country is important for our identity and well-being, and shows respect to our ancestors.

Further information can be attained at the Arakwal People of Byron Bay website.