Australia rediscovers its urban indigenous heart
But in addition to Aboriginal history, Sydney is also emphasising the present and future of its indigenous inhabitants. A chunky booklet called Barani Barrabugu (Yesterday Tomorrow): Sydney’s Aboriginal Journey aims to stimulate independent exploration. It maps out and tells the story behind numerous sites of Aboriginal significance across Sydney, such as the now-covered over Tank Stream, a hugely important fresh water source. Some sights hark back to before European settlement in 1788, but the vast majority are tied to arts, education and the fight for indigenous rights. This includes Martin Place, where annual protest Aborigines Day protest events took place from 1938 to 1955.
The sites marked on the Barani Barrabugu map form a trail, which passes through some of Sydney’s less heralded suburbs, including Redfern. It marks the Oval, the stadium where Aboriginal rugby league teams battle it out annually for the Koori Cup. There are also community centres and schools which mostly cater for Redfern’s large indigenous population. Numerous buildings are adorned with murals and a sun on a red and black background -- the markings of the Aboriginal flag.
This is not the expected world of bush tucker and dot paintings. It is Aboriginal Australia in a contemporary, urban setting -- and there are more than just Dreamtime stories to tell.