Who are the First Nations people of Australia?

The First Nations people of Australia - the Aboriginal Australians and the Torres Strait Islander peoples - are descended from the ethnic groups that lived for thousands of years in Australia before the British colonisation in 1788. 

Both First Nations groups carry unique languages, cultural activities, and belief systems that have been shared from generation to generation and even obtain traditional knowledge about how to use natural resources without waste or greed. This is due to the special and deep connection First Nations people feel towards their traditional land, waters, and territories with the land they live on an important element of their physical and cultural survival as communities.

This knowledge can be passed down in a myriad of ways including through dance, art, song, costume, and storytelling during traditional ceremonies and celebrations. 

Aboriginal Australians 

There are actually around 250 Aboriginal language groups scattered all over the country with each group often identifying as something different. First Nation communities can also identify by their location and are often referred to as traditional custodians - for example, the First Nations peoples from the Flinders Ranges region in South Australia are known as the Adnyamathanha people (meaning hills or rock people) while the Kimberleys region is shared by more than 100 communities including the Nyikina Mangala people and the Gooniyandi people. 

Torres Strait Islander people

There are approximately 247 islands that make up the Torres Strait, however, these islands are categorised into five major island clusters - the Top Western Group (Boigu, Dauan and Saibai), the Near Western Group (Badu, Mabuiag and Moa), Central Group (Yam, Warraber, Coconut and Masig), the Eastern Group (Murray, Darnley and Stephen), and the TI or Lower Western Group (Thursday, Horn, Hammond, Prince of Wales and Friday).

Torres Strait Islander people call back to the island where they come from when referring to themselves such as a Mer man or woman is from Murray or a Badu man or woman is from Badu. Torres Strait Islander people might also use geological features as an act of identification with people living near saltwater known as 'saltwater people' or people living near a rainforest known as 'rainforest people'. 

What's been done in Australia to heal the relationship between Indigenous Australians and non-Indigenous Australians? 

Reconciliation between Indigenous Australians and non-Indigenous Australians has come a long way in the past 30 years or so but there's still an extremely long way to go when it comes to recognising and repairing the past and looking forward to the future by reducing inequality and increasing support. 

Some steps that have been taken as acts of reconciliation include the formation of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation by the government back in 1991, an official apology for the Stolen Generations by the then Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, and a not-for-profit organisation named Reconciliation Australia was established in 2001 to further ensure reconciliation is a national focus. 

Reconciliation at Intrepid 

At Intrepid, we're committed to strengthening relationships between Indigenous Australians and non-Indigenous Australians and have devised our own Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) to ensure we're making a genuine contribution to reconciliation throughout all areas of the business. Our RAP is built around four pillars - relationships, respect, opportunities, and governance/tracking progress - and we're constantly working with First Nations consultants and advisors to understand how we can better create an environment of acknowledgement, acceptance, and support. 

Read our full commitment to reconciliation here. 

What are some of the most famous culturally significant sites in Australia? 

There are thousands of culturally significant sites, to both the Aboriginal Australians and Torres Strait Islander people, located throughout Australia. These sites can be any form of natural landmark from watering holes and waterfalls to rock formations and rivers.

These are some of the most famous and recognisable culturally significant sites in Australia: 

  • The Three Sisters rock formation in the Blue Mountains, NSW. This natural landmark is tied to an Aboriginal Dreamtime legend and was declared an 'Aboriginal place' by the New South Wales government in 2014.  
  • Located right in the heart of Australia, Uluru is perhaps the most famous and instantly recognisable culturally significant Aboriginal site in the whole country. Known to be a place where traditional ceremonies were performed centuries ago, this giant rock is the resting place for several ancestral spirits and is protected by governmental laws prohibiting climbing it. 
  • Boasting thousands of Aboriginal art sites (including the Nourlangie Rock Art Site), Kakadu National Park is another cultural site of importance to Aboriginal Australians - the park even features evidence of Aboriginal life from more than 20,000 years ago. 
  • South Australia's Wilpena Pound is another culturally significant site to Aboriginal Australians, more specifically, to the traditional owners of the land as it's their 'meeting place' and was created by two Dreaming serpents. 
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