Aboriginal history and culture

Picture books

After School

Big Mob Series

Alfie's Big Wish

David Hardy

Alfie believes in the magic of wishes and waits for his biggest wish of all to come true.

Alfie's Search for Destiny

David Hardy

This delightful story follows Alfie on a journey in search for his destiny. He leaves home, travels high and low and, after his long adventure, he realises where his destiny truly lies.

Bangu the Flying Fox : a Dreamtime Story of the Yuin People of Wallaga Lake

story retold by Jillian Taylor

Big Rain Coming

Germein Katrina, Bronwyn Bancroft (Illustrator)

A lyrical story about waiting for the rain to come to an isolated Aboriginal community. Tension in the community builds as the rain clouds thicken and grow dark. Everybody waits. When will the rain come?

Bittangabee Tribe

Beryl Cruse, Rebecca Kirby, Liddy Stewart and Steven Thomas

This delightful story, created by Aboriginal students from the south coast of New South Wales, tells of the lives of the Bittangabee tribe.

Beautifully illustrated with the help of local primary school children, the story follows Ninima and his family on their long summer journey into the mountains to collect Bogong moths, and then home again to the sea.

Black Fella, White Fella

by Neil Murray ; illustrated by students from schools around Australia

Black fella white fella doesn't matter what your colour - the message is clear, We are all brothers and sisters no matter where we are from in this world.. Based on the song by Neil Murray.

Bold Australian girl

Jess Black

Do you know what my Mum whispers as she straightens out a curl? You can do anything. You're my bold Australian girl.

Boomerang and Bat

Mark Greenwood

In 1868, a determined team of Aboriginal stockmen set off on a journey across the world to take on England's best cricketers. Led by star all-rounder Johnny Mullagh and wearing caps, embroidered with a boomerang and a bat, the team delighted crowds with their exceptional skills. The men were the first Australian cricket team to tour England and this is their story.

Bubbay- A Christmas Adventure

Josie Wowolla Boyle

Bubbay lives in the outback spending his days protecting a herd of goats from dingoes. He sleeps in his swag under the stars and the only person he visits is Mrs Timms for chicken’s eggs. One night, just before Christmas, Bubbay wishes for something he has never had. His friends, the stars, hear him and with the help of a talking Christmas tree, the magical Gubarlee and five desert animals, Bubbay begins a quest to make his dearest wish come true. A hopeful story full of magic, combined with richly textured illustrations of Australian plants and animals, Bubbay offers a glimpse of how the natural and spiritual worlds can intervene in making ordinary lives better.


Big Mob Series

Collecting colour

Kylie Dunstan

Rose and her friend, Olive, love going bush in Arnhem Land to collect 'colour' and pandanus leaves for weaving baskets, bags and mats.

The Bunyip

Big Mob Series

Cathy Freeman story

Big Mob Series

Collecting Colour

Kylie Dunstan

Collecting Colour was inspired by author and illustrator Kylie Dunstan s time spent as an Arts Officer at a community centre in Arnhem Land, Northern Territory. One of her duties was to take the local women out on bush trips to collect pandanus and colour for weaving and dyeing the mats and baskets sold in the Arts Centre.


Angus Wallam and Suzanne Kelly ; paintings by Norma MacDonald

Winner of the inaugural Marrwarnging Award in Western Australia, this picture book draws upon Wallam's memories of living a semi traditional life in Moore River in the 1930s. Wirrin, the young protagonist, observes in detail the activities before and during the corroboree. The present tense narrative, almost bilingual in style, is entertaining and interesting. The book portrays a community in transition; the wearing of items of western clothing is, for example, mixed with traditional cloaks. The text is particularly innovative in the inclusion of an English-Nyungar language glossary around the border of each page.

Creatures of the Rainforest : Two Artists Explore Djabugay Country

Warren Brim, Anna Eglitis

A celebration of Aboriginal culture, this handsome book is a visual delight with its attention to detail in beautiful reproductions of linoprints and acrylic paintings. Entries are laid out in alphabetical order, and each double page has two images of rainforest flora or fauna, with Aboriginal captions subtitled in English. A paragraph describes the topic, its growth patterns, habits, and uses. Notes regarding the interaction of the Djabugay people with the landscape are interesting and useful for Aboriginal Studies. The book strongly and enthusiastically depicts the natural environment of the Djabugay landscape.

Dan's Grandpa

Sally Morgan. Illustrated by Bronwyn Bancroft

Dan and his grandpa had a special friendship. ‘Don’t worry Dan’ Grandpa said one day. ‘No matter what happens I’ll always be with you, looking after you.’
A gentle story about death, mourning and the very special place of grandparents

Dunbi the Owl

Based on the story told by Daisy Utemorrah of the Worora people to children living in Derby, Western Australia. One of a series of Aboriginal stories about animals and birds. Dunbi the owl is discovered in a tree by some children who soon learn the consequences of mistreating him.

Ernie Dances to the Didgeridoo

Alison Lester

When Ernie goes to live in an Aboriginal community in northern Australia, the people, climate, plants and animals are all new to him. Here are his letters to Clive, Nicky, Rosie, Frank, Tessa and Celeste, describing the life he discovers with his new friends in their wild and beautiful land.


Big Mob Series

The Echidna and the Shade Tree

told by Mona Green ; compiled by Pamela Lofts

Based on a story of the jaru people. In the dreaming, there was a shade tree in the middle of the desert. The animals went hunting for themselves and their babies but they only gave the echidna the scraps. When he gets angry and attacks the shade tree, the other animals must do something.

From Little Things Big Things Grow

Paul Kelly, Kev Carmody ; illustrated by kids from Gurindji country, with paintings by Peter Hudson

The iconic song by Paul Kelly and Kev Carmody recounts the story of when Vincent Lingiari and other Gurindji workers walked off the Wave Hill cattle station in 1966. What began as a strike over wages and conditions became an eight year long struggle for the return of traditional lands. Illustrated by Gurindji schoolchildren.

The Giant Devil Dingo

Dick Roughsey

The legend of Gaiya, the giant devil-dingo belongs to people from the Cape York Peninsula.

How the Tasmanian Tiger Got its Stripes

as told by Leigh Maynard

Originally titled Kannenner the brave in the television animation series The dreaming.


Mark Greenwood ; Terry Denton

He emerged from the cave of bats with the name given to him by his people. He was Jandamarra, a man of power who could appear and disappear like a ghost. Set in the Kimberley region in north-west Australia, this is the story of a young warrior born to lead. To the settlers, he was an outlaw to be hunted. To the Bunuba, he was a courageous defender of his country. Mark Greenwood's text and Terry Denton's watercolour illustrations bring to life this story of conflict and divided loyalties, giving a unique insight into an extraordinary man and a tragic but important part of Australia's frontier history

John Simon's Story

Big Mob Series

Johnny Cakes

Big Mob Series

The Kangaroo and the Porpoise

An Aboriginal story told by Agnes Lippo ; compiled by Pamela Lofts

From the Larrakia and Waigite language groups. One of a series of Aboriginal stories about animals and birds. The kangaroo asks the porpoise to mind her baby. When the porpoise won't give the baby back, a fight ensues with interesting results.


Katrina Germein ; illustrated by Bronwyn Bancroft

Saying goodbye to friends is never easy but there is joy in the giving and receiving of presents that are truly loved. Richly illustrated with simple paintings that reflect the giving of gifts

Little Flying Fox

Big Mob Series

Look See, Look at Me!

Leonie Norrington

The expressive illustrations in this picture book provide a snapshot of an outback Aboriginal community. From running on the red earth to a bird's-eye view of the community from high in a tree, we follow a three year old boy as he runs through his day exploring and interacting with his relatives. Very short sentences use rhyme and rhythm on a background of warm pastels; it is a perfect book to use with very young literacy learners. Illustrations show what life is like in a remote community, so the book could be used as a stimulus, at any stage of the primary school, for discussions of culture and identity, the environment, and patterns of place or location.

Mad Magpie

written and illustrated by Gregg Dreise

Inspired by wise sayings and the knowledge of his Elders, Mad Magpie tells the story of Guluu, an angry magpie who is being teased by a gang of butcher birds. The more he is teased, the angrier he becomes. When Guluu seeks advice, his Elders tell him to stay calm like the river, ignore the butcher birds and to be strong on the inside. Guluu tries this, but the cheeky birds just laugh at him. One day, when Guluu is at the river looking for worms, the butcher birds arrive and steal his food. He remembers the words of his Elders and he tries again - and this time Guluu has a different outcome. He stands proudly at the riverbank and remembers how he used to sing when he was having a bad day. Guluu sings so loud he cannot hear the birds laughing at him and they eventually give up and fly away. From that time on, the animals learnt to use music to create a happy mood and they worked together to stop bullying

Marngrook : a Long Ago Story of Aussie Rules

Titta Secombe, Grace Fielding

This fictionalised story of Marngrook takes place at the foot of Duwul, the highest mountain in the spectacular Grampians region of north-west Victoria, the traditional country of people from the Djab-Wurrung and Jardwadjali clans. When Wawi, a clan Elder, notices that his son, Jaara, and the other children only have old toys to play with, he goes for a walk to see what he can find. Wawi comes across a banya (ring-tailed possum) and has an idea. He kills the banya and skins it, and sews up the skin with a tendon from a kangaroo tail. Wawi stuffs the skin with emu feathers and moulds it into the shape of an emu egg. Jaara and the children play with the marngrook every day and spend hours practising their kicks. One day, when Jaara kicks the marngrook far into the bush, he finds himself lost and has to bear the consequences of not listening to his Elders.

Mmm Turtle!

Sue Briggs-Pattison and Bev Harvey

My Body

Written by students from Redfern Primary School.

My Island Home

Neil Murray ; illustrated by kids from Papunya and Galiwinku, with paintings by Peter Hudson

Everyone who loves Australia can appreciate the beauty and diversity of our wonderful country, shown through Neil Murray's song lyrics and beautiful landscape illustrations by the school children of the Kintore and Galiwinku communities.

My Mob

Big Mob Series
Parallel text in Gumbaynggirr [sic] and English

Nana's Land

Delphine Sarago-Kendrick

The adults of the story leave the two teenagers to find their own way to Nana's homeland, and, after a short and effortless journey, they arrive.

Nyuntu Ninti = What You Should Know

Bob Randall and Melanie Hogan

In this beautiful, photographic book for young children, Bob Randall explains, in a simple but effective way, the Anangu people's relationship to all that is around them, and why we must learn to care for the Earth, its plants and its creatures.

Old Tucker Man

Debbie Austin

For many thousands of years, Kirrae Whurron men prided themselves on being able to hunt and provide game food for their families and communities. When the land was taken from them, their food source was replaced by European farming animals.

Our Museum

Written by students from Brewarrina Central School and St. Patrick's Primary School

Big Mob Series

Paddy's Island

Big Mob Series

Written by students from Kemblawarra Primary School

Pheasant and Kingfisher

Catherine Helen Berndt

Originally told by Nganalgindja in the Gunwinggu language, this story of how creatures came into the world is poignantly retold by an honored anthropologist who lived with the Aborigines for many years.

Savannah's Dreams

Savannah may not be as good at hunting and gathering like the rest of her family, but she proves that her imagination is important too From Monday to Saturday Savannah and her family go looking for herbs, spices, and other food. Her parents and siblings find fabulous food, while Savannah only finds bits of junk. But Savannah sees the world through different eyes, and her imagination helps her to make the greatest catch of all.

Lola Stewart

Shake a Leg

Boori Monty Pryor

Set in Far North Queensland, it tells of three small, hungry boys who go in search of food and meet an Italian-speaking, Aboriginal pizza chef. He explains to them that to learn how to make pizza well, he had to go back to where it all began – to Italy. As he cooks the boys a pizza, he shares with them the stories and dances that inspire his creations.

Silly Birds

Gregg Dreise, author and illustrator

In this humble, charming and humorous morality tale, Maliyan is a proud eagle who always looks, listens and sees things from a long way away. One day he meets the turkey Wagun, who is a silly bird, and together these two new friends begin to do silly-bird things. The Elders and Maliyan's parents become very disappointed and soon the local billabong becomes a mess. The silly birds do not care for anyone and seem to have eaten all the food. Maliyan begins to see the error of his ways and tries to talk to Wagun and the other birds about their actions. No one listens. So Maliyan flies away and begins the journey of listening again. Maliyan soon becomes a proud leader and all the silly birds begin to follow his example. They all help clean up the messes they have made. All except one.

Solid rock = Puli Kunpunka = Sacred ground

Shane Howard ; illustrated by kids from Mutijulu, Kaltukatjara and Imanpa with paintings by Peter Hudson ; Pitjantjatjara translation by Ruby James and Trevor Adamson.

Stolen girl

Trina Saffioti

When a young girl is taken from all that she knows and loves, she dreams of how she will return to the life she had to leave behind. The book follows one girl who was taken from her home and placed in a children's home. Australian Government policy at the time removed one hundred thousand Aboriginal children who are known as the Stolen Generation.

Stories for Simon

Lisa Miranda Sarzin

When Simon unwraps a beautiful boomerang wrapped in an old newspaper, he learns of the national apology to the Stolen Generations. Who were the Stolen Generations and how can saying 'sorry' help? Through a new friendship and a magnificent collection of stories, Simon gains a deep appreciation of the past and a positive vision for the future.

The Bat and the Crocodile

An Aboriginal story told by Jacko Dolumyu and Hector Jandany ; compiled by Pamela Lofts

This story comes from the Aboriginal people at Warmun (Turkey Creek) in Western Australia. It was told in the Kija language. Describes why bats now live in caves because of the killing of a fellow creature.

The Echidna and the Shade Tree

told by Mona Green

ased on a story of the Jaru people. In the dreaming, there was a shade tree in the middle of the desert. The animals went hunting for themselves and their babies but they only gave the echidna the scraps. When he gets angry and attacks the shade tree, the other animals must do something.

The Kangaroos who Wanted to be People

May O'Brien

This story, from the Wongutha people of south Western Australia, explains what happens when the kangaroos disobey the rules. It also helps explain why some places or areas are off-limits to children. The book includes the Wongutha language with an English translation in parts and includes a pronunciation guide.

The Legends of the Seven Sisters

May O'Brien

A dreaming story of the Wongutha people from the Eastern goldfields, this wonderful retelling by well-known Indigenous children’s author, May O’Brien explains how the Seven Sisters (Pleiades) came to be. Beautifully illustrated by Sue Wyatt, it offers teachers and librarians a way to introduce traditional Indigenous beliefs, dreaming stories and language to their students.

The Magic Firesticks

Percy J. Trezise

Illustrated by Dick Roughsey

Bandicoot and Curlew, two Australian Aborigines of the Yalanji tribe, journey to Fire Mountain to bring back fire produced by Didmunja's "magical" sticks.

The Permaculture Courtyard

Written by students from Wilcannia Central School

Big Mob Series

The Quninkins

Percy Trezise and Dick Roughsey

The Rabbits

John Marsden

Illustrated by Shaun Tan

Uses rabbits, a species introduced to Australia, to represent an allegory of the arrival of Europeans in Australia and the widespread environmental destruction caused by man throughout the continent.

The Rainbow Serpent of the Hopkins River

Patricia Clarke

The story in this book is about the Rainbow Serpent, how it came to Framlingham…how it made a frightening noise but the old people were calm, they knew about the Rainbow Serpent who lived in the river, they had heard the story from the old people who came before them. They also knew the Rainbow Serpent, for all its terrible force, brought an abundance of food – fish and eels. Pat was told this story by her father, Uncle Banjo Clarke.

Red sand, blue sky

Cathy Applegate

When young Amy goes to stay with her aunt in the central outback, she befriends Lana. Together, they must overcome racial and cultural barriers and join forces to foil a criminal who is stealing artefacts.

Say Yes

Jennifer Castles

A story about how the events surrounding the historic 1967 Referendum played out in the everyday lives of two young girls.

Once there were two little girls who were best friends. They did everything together. As they got older they weren't allowed to do the same things anymore. Because they looked different. Because of the law.

This is a story about the landmark 1967 Referendum, the two women who came together to change the law ... and how the Australian people said YES.

Sisi and the cassowary

Arone Raymond Meeks

Solid rock = Puli Pulka = Sacred ground

his song was one of the first songs of its type to touch on the subject of Aboriginal rights in Australia. Beautiful illustrations by the school children from Mutujulu, near Uluru, Australia.

Shane Howard ; illustrated by kids from Mutijulu, Kaltukatjara and Imanpa, with paintings by Peter Hudson

Stolen girl

Includes background information about Australia's stolen generation.

Trina Saffioti ; illustrated by Norma MacDonald

The Hairy One

Wendy Notley

The hairy one is an adaptation of an Aunty Wendy's Mob song on the 'happy to be me' CD

The Kangaroo and the Porpoise : an Aboriginal Story

told by Agnes Lippo

From the Larrakia and Waigite language groups. One of a series of Aboriginal stories about animals and birds. The kangaroo asks the porpoise to mind her baby. When the porpoise won't give the baby back, a fight ensues with interesting results.

The Shack that Dad built

Elaine Russell

Elaine Russell's dad built the family shack just outside the Aboriginal mission at La Perouse in Sydney. The life of an indigenous kid on the urban fringes with memories from happy ones like hunting for bush tucker to her saddest Christmas ever.

The rainbow serpent

written and illustrated by Dick Roughsey

There are innumerable names and stories associated with the Rainbow Serpent, all of which communicate the significance of this being within Aboriginal traditions. Dreamtime stories tell how the Rainbow Serpent came from beneath the ground and created huge ridges, mountains and gorges as it pushed upward. The name also reflects the snake-like meandering of water across a landscape and the color spectrum sometimes caused by sunlight hitting the water. Paintings of the Rainbow Serpent first appeared in Arnhem Land rock art more than 6000 years ago, and perhaps as early as 8000 years before the present, as the seas rose after the last Ice Age. Today the Rainbow Serpent is associated with ceremonies about fertility and abundance, as well as the organisation of the community and the keeping of peace.

The sugarbag

Nola Turner-Jensen

Jimmy and Max hope a tiny native bee will lead them to some delicious sugarbag. It's the adventure of a lifetime for Max who imagines a bush treasure-trove filled with sweets. For Jimmy, it's a chance to teach his little brother all about bush tucker.

Ten little jarjum

Big Mob Series

written by Aboriginal community members from Tabulam

Tiddalik the frog

written by Barbara Ker Wilson ; illustrated by Jan Holloway

Tom Tom

Rosemary Sullivan and Dee Huxley

A contemporary story of a young boy living an idyllic life in the Northern Territory's Top End. It follows his day as he interacts with his extended family and attends the local preschool.

Took the children away

Archie Roach ; illustrated by Ruby Hunter with paintings by Peter Hudson

From the lyrics of this iconic song a very special book has been created. Featuring the heart wrenching lyrics of Archie Roach and the classic artwork of his late wife Ruby Hunter, this book describes the anguish suffered by the Stolen Generation.

Tucker's Mob

Christobel Mattingley

Tucker, the cat with a question mark tail, is the colour of honey, and as thin as a slice of toast. He lives with Sunny and Sam and Sue and the rest of the mob - Brella, the cheeky fella black dog, and the big bird Brolga. Tucker likes to go to school with Sunny and Sam and Sue, but the teacher always puts him outside . . . until one day Sam shows that Tucker is a very special school cat indeed.

This warm, friendly picture book is set in the Barunga Aboriginal community near Katherine in the Northern Territory.

Two Mates

Melanie Prewett

Two Mates is the true story of the special mateship between two young boys who have grown up together in the coastal town of Broome in Australia's north-west. Jack is Indigenous and Raf is a non-Indigenous boy who has spina bifida. Jack and Raf take the reader on a journey of their daily life growing up in Broome. Together they search for hermit crabs, go hunting for barni, fish for salmon, explore the markets, eat satays and dress up as superheros. The fact that Raf is in a wheelchair is only revealed at the end of the story.

Warnayarra, the Rainbow Snake

told by the senior boys class, Lajamanu School ; compiled by Pamela Lofts

One of a series of Aboriginal stories about animals and birds. Describes the power of the Warnayarra in unleashing a tremendous thunderstorm.

What am I?

Big Mob Series

written by students from Dubbo Primary School

When the Snake Bites the Sun

David Mowaljarlai

Based on a story told by David Mowaljarlai of the Ngarinyin tribe to Aboriginal children living in the Kimberleys. The illustrations are adapted from their paintings of the story.

Where are you?

Big Mob Series

Who made the sun? : An Aboriginal legend

Pat Edwards illustrated by Walter Stackpool

Why I love Australia

Bronwyn Bancroft

In a similar vein to Dorothea Mackellar's My Country. Stunning images and words showcase the awe-inspiring beauty of the Australian continent.

You and me : our place

Uncle Tobias is the fisherman Elder of an Aboriginal family. The story follows a typical day on the beach for the mob, collecting bush tucker and celebrating with family. Uncle Tobias tells stories of the original use of the Land, and remains almost oblivious to the many changes that the coming of Europeans made to this beach locale.

written by Leonie Norrington ; illustrated by Dee Huxley