Aboriginal Way

Federal Department of Agriculture

2017

The Lake Eyre Basin covers a huge area in the middle of Australia and has been home to many Aboriginal nations for many thousands of years. 

Physical evidence of Aboriginal occupation exists throughout the Basin, including artefacts, campsites, middens, stone arrangements, burial sites, paintings and engravings. Indeed, many Aboriginal people live on country as their ancestors have done since time immemorial. Others might live further away but still maintain a strong connection to their country.

In 2011 PCD was engaged to undertake the design of a large (1000mm x 700mm) map educating and celebrating the richness, diversity and vibrancy of Aboriginal cultures across the Basin in a way that honoured the desire of Aboriginal people to tell their story.

Originally intended to take about six months, this fascinating and important project grew and changed as time passed but, despite challenges to progress, regular changes to client representitives and funding bodies, the core group of dedicated individuals making up the Steering Committee held tenatiously to their vision over the next six years. 

The map concept was developed and refined over the first three years of the project. During this time the complex layers of information were visualised, plotted and digitised to build up an exciting overview of Aboriginality in the Basin. In 2015, after a hiatus of nearly 12 months, the project gathered speed and the painstaking process of consultations with the elders, approvals and refinement began. 

Development of the Aboriginal Map was guided by a set of principles which were agreed at the commencement of the project. The principles were: 

  • Only publicly available information is included
  • Local communities are comfortable with visitation to the places of interest which are shown on the Map
  • The information does not provoke disagreement among Aboriginal people
  • Both contemporary and traditional connections to country are depicted
  • All messages are clear, and unambiguous; Aboriginal people initiated the project and were actively involved in its development. Many people were and continue to be consulted throughout the project on decisions about what information is used and how that information is to be shown.
  • The process of developing the Aboriginal Map invokes a sense of inclusiveness for Aboriginal people and facilitates an understanding of how to participate in the Lake Eyre Basin process 
  • The information shown on the Aboriginal Map is as ‘timeless’ as possible
  • The portrait circle represents just a small portion of Aboriginal people who have participated in the development of the Map and  continue to live, work, raise families and contribute to vibrant regional communities and culture in the Basin.

The outcome is a richly diverse publication that gives just a taste of the complexity and intimate connection Aboriginal people have with the Basin. The dreaming tracks, trade routes and connection Aboriginal people have to country is even more complex and profound than what it presents.

COLLABORATORS:
Design Director: Lea Barnett
Creative Director: Peter Campbell