Course Title: The Lurujarri Dreaming Trail

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: The Lurujarri Dreaming Trail

Credit Points: 12

Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


315H Architecture & Design


Sem 1 2006,
Sem 1 2008,
Sem 1 2010,
Sem 1 2011,
Sem 1 2012,
Sem 1 2013


City Campus


320H Architecture & Design


Sem 1 2014,
Sem 1 2015,
Sem 1 2016

Course Coordinator: Kate Church

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 1996

Course Coordinator Email:

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities


Course Description

In this course you will have the opportunity to learn about, listen to, discuss and engage with indigenous people about their knowledge and relationship to land. You will spend 9 days with the Goolarbooloo people of Broome W.A. walking the Lurujarri dreaming trail. Lurujarri, meaning coastal dunes, is the Aboriginal name that generally describes the stretch of country from Broome, W.A. to Minarriny, about 90 kms to the north of Broome. The trail follows part of a traditional Aboriginal song cycle that originated from the Dreamtime. The background and significance of the trail is outlined by Frans Hoogland as follows:-

We have to learn to see again, learn to walk, to feel all these things again. This is why the Lurujarri trail is so important. The Lurujarri trail will get us to listen, to start walking slowly, and to teach people...people are introduced to the song cycle through direct experience of walking, of being with it, trying to understand the living quality of the country. That have to be experienced. Its very hard to grasp that out of reading books or through people talking (Sinatra and Murphy Listen to the People : Listen to the Land 1999, Melbourne University Press).

The course does not aim to provide you with an overview of Aboriginal culture and knowledge about land and land management but rather it aims to introduce you to a different way of knowing ’country’ from the perspective of the Goolarbaloo people of Broome. Insights gained will assist you towards an appreciation of different ways of knowing land and an understanding of some of the issues involved in working collaboratively with Aboriginal people. As Marcia Langton observes:-

Aboriginal and western systems of knowledge are parallel, co-existing, but different, ways of knowing. Scientific descriptions of nature and precepts of the natural world cannot subsume traditional ways of knowledge. Collaborative projects are not merely annexing traditional systems of knowledge, but rather, interacting with them, and thus the outcomes are neither absolutely the result of scientific thought nor that of Aboriginal thought. Rather each is a source of understanding the very difficult issues that are posed by the natural world on this continent (Marcia Langton Burning Questions ; emerging environmental issues for indigenous peoples in northern Australia 1998 Centre for Indigenous Natural and Cultural Resource Management, NT)

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

At the successful completion of this course you should
-have gained some insight into indigenous knowledge about land and land management, having walked the Lurujarri dreaming trail

-Have critically examined some of the historical assumptions which shape arguments about the role of Aboriginal people and their environmental knowledge
-Have some understanding of the key threats and challenges currently facing indigenous people in remote regions of Australia in maintaining their custodial relationship with land
-Have some appreciation of the way in which other land uses (including tourism, recreation, residential development) conflict with indigenous land management practices
-Have thought critically about western and non western ideas about place; and to have considered ways in which these land use conflicts can be addressed in a way which is sympathetic to both the ’environment’ and the different users of the land.

Overview of Learning Activities

While the experience of the dreaming trail is central to this course you are also required to critically reflect on their experiences. Consequently, two introductory lectures which will explore some of the historical assumptions which shape arguments and representations of Aboriginal people and their relationship to land. You will also be provided with background material on the trail and reading prior to departing to Broome for the beginning of the 9 day trail. This will be followed by one further class at RMIT where students will be required to share their experience of the trail and to identify issues/topics for further research. You will be required to complete set reading prior to the trail, to keep a journal on the trail and use the journal to identify an issue/topic for a major research assignment to be completed when they return to RMIT.

Overview of Learning Resources

Suggested Reading

The Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies May 2000
Guidelines for Ethical Research in Indigenous Studies

Benterrak, Krim, M and Roe, P 1996 ’Strategic Nomadology : Introduction’ in Reading the Country Fremantle Arts Centre Press, W.A.

Cronin, W (ed) 1995 Uncommon Ground : rethinking the Human Place in Nature Introduction W.W. Norton, USA

Deutschlander, S. and Miller, L.J 2003 ‘Politicising aboriginal cultural Tourism: the discourse of primitivism in the tourist encounter The Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology Volume 40 Issue 1, Toronto

Healy, Chris 1999 ‘White Feet and Black Trails : Travelling Cultures at the Lurujarri Train’ Postcolonial Studies Volume 2, Issue 1 The Institute of Postcolonial Studies.

Langton, Marcia 1998 ’Science Fictions’ Chapter 3 in Burning questions : emerging environmental issues for indigenous peoples in northern Australia Australian Centre for Indigeneous Natural and Cultural Resource Management, Northern Territory University

Mulligan, Martin 2003 ‘Feet to the Ground in Storied Landscapes’ in Adams and Mulligan 2003 Decolonising Nature: Strategies for Conservation in a Post-Colonial Era Earthscan

Rose, D.B. 2002 ‘Love and Reconciliation in the Forest: A Study in Decolonisation’ Hawke Institute Working Paper Series No. 19 South Australia

Anne Ross and Kathleen Pickering 2002 The politics of reintegrating Australian Aboriginal and American Indian Indigenous knowledge into resource management : the dynamics of resource appropriation and cultural revival)

Sinatra, J. and Murphy, P. 1999 ’Black and White, a trail to understanding’ in Listen to the People, Listen to the Land Melbourne University Press, Carlton

Suchet, Sandie 2002 “Totally Wild’? Colonising Discourses, indigenous knowledges and managing wildlife’ pp 141-157 in Australian Geographer Volume 33, No 2 2002

Additional Reading

This list is provided as a guide only. Additional reading will depend on your research topic and will be discussed individually.

Cameron , John 2003 ‘Responding to Place in a post-colonial era: An Australian Perspective’ Chapter 8 in Adams and Mulligan 2003 Decolonising Nature: Strategies for Conservation in a Post-Colonial Era Earthscan

Langton, Marcia 2003 ‘The Wild, the market and the native: Indigenous people face new forms of global colonization’ Chapter 4 in Adams and Mulligan 2003 Decolonising Nature: Strategies for Conservation in a Post-Colonial Era Earthscan

Peluso, Nancy Lee 1996 ‘Reserving Value: Conservation Ideology and State Protection of Resources’ Chapter 5 in DuPuis and Vandergeest 1996Creating the Countryside The politics of Rural and Environmental Discourse Temple University Press, Philadelphia

Posey, D.A. 1996 ’Indigenous Peoples and Traditional Resource Rights : A basis for an equitable relationship? in Sultan et al Ecopolitics 1X Conference : Perspectives on Indigenous People’s Management of Environmental Resources 1995 Northern Land Council, Darwin.

Roe, Paddy 1983 Goolarbooloo Fremantle Arts Centre Press

Rose, D.B. 1988 ’Exploring an Aboriginal Land Ethic’ in Meajin 47,3 378-387

Rose, D.B. 2001 ‘Connecting with Ecological Futures’ Position Paper prepared for the National Humanities and Social Science Summit 26-27 July, 2001, Canberra


Overview of Assessment

1. Workbook/journal 80%

Your workbook is made up of two parts

a series of exercises that you will need to complete prior to class 2, leaving for the trail and at the end of the trail . Exercises will be handed out in each of the classes.
Your journal will also form a part of your workbook. Here you will be required to keep a journal over the nine days of the trail which can be part reflection on your experience of the trail and part reflection on the required readings. While on trail you will probably use the journal to record observation but it is also a place to record how you are feeling on a day to day basis. You may therefore need to edit your workbook at the end of trail and ensure that you have reflected on the reading as required.

You will also be required to complete a concluding workbook exercise after you return to Melbourne after the trail.

In order to begin your workbook describe in about 200 words what your expectations of the trail. Here you can focus on what you expect to learn, what you expect to experience on the trail, why you chose to go.

After you have completed this you will also need to complete a reflective piece based on at least two of the readings provided. The question I want you to consider is What does caring for country mean?

Required reading will be handed out in class.

2. Participation 20%

Assessment Criteria

While the experience of the trail is central to this course, you are required to critically reflect on the experience. The Journals must therefore not only explore the experience itself but must also draw on broader ideas (via careful listening) and literature to facilitate critical reflection. A day to day diary will not be acceptable.