Topic 1 Investigation 2


For this investigation you will read two texts, one a creation story of the Indigenous peoples of south-east Queensland, and the other an account of the retention of Indigenous names by Major Thomas Mitchell in the surveying of New South Wales. By completing this investigation, you will consider the connection between the stories that are told about places and their naming to ideas of ownership and belonging. In this investigation you will discover how people give meaning to land, changing it from a natural phenomenon to a cultural artefact.


Read the three short extracts in the section ‘Naming the Land’, in the Discovering Democracy Australian Readers (Upper Secondary Collection). The extracts are ‘Girroo Gurrll names the land’, ‘European explorers name the land’ and ‘Names lost and found’. Use the following questions to reflect on the relationship that identity has with notions of belonging and with geographical space.

  1. How important are notions of ‘place’ in people’s definitions of themselves and in explaining who they are?
  2. After reading the extracts consider this statement: ‘Language conquers land.’ What are the various ways in which language ‘conquers’ land? Are Australian stories about the outback as effective at settling land as farming, building or physical occupation?
  3. How have Indigenous languages and cultures influenced Australia’s identity?
  4. Lists ways of thinking or imagining identity without references to space or location. You may consult Australian narratives and literature that have a strong sense of belonging to place for assistance.

Now, create a work (poem, song, prose, or poster) that does not include references to place, and explain to your class what you relied upon in your work to define identity.

Hint: A good starting point would be to define identity in terms of values or principles and kinship.

When you have completed this exercise, form small groups and consider the advantages, disadvantages and the 'interesting', in removing references to place in describing yourselves, your community and your nation. The Plus, Minus or Interesting (PMI) chart below can be used for this activity.





Resources for Investigation 2

For the teacher

Moore, Bruce 2006, ‘The vocabulary of Australian English’, Australian National Dictionary Centre, Australian National University


Introduction | Topic 1 | Topic 1 Investigation 1 | Topic 1 Investigation 2 |  Resources