'All mucked up'

sharing stories of Yolŋu-Macassan cultural heritage at Bawaka, north-east Arnhem Land

Rebecca H. Bilous*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    6 Citations (Scopus)


    From the eighteenth-century Macassan traders from the Indonesian Island of Sulawesi made regular visits to northern Australia, where with the help of Yolŋu, Indigenous Australians living in north-east Arnhem Land, they collected trepang (sea cucumber) for trade. Along with sharing language, technology and culture, the Macassans and Yolŋu involved built relationships that are celebrated today in Yolŋu art, songs and stories. While the trepang trade had officially stopped by 1906, resonances of this complex relationship continued and still continue today. This paper shares a number of stories told by one particular Yolŋu family about this heritage and reflects on the ways in which for Yolŋu, the tangible heritage (artefacts), intangible heritage (stories) and the land itself are locked in a symbiotic relationship where each depends on the others to define their existence. Looking after, or protecting this heritage, is therefore about attending to place, and the nature, storytellers, objects and stories contained within it.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)905-918
    Number of pages14
    JournalInternational Journal of Heritage Studies
    Issue number9
    Publication statusPublished - 21 Oct 2015


    • Indigenous Australians
    • Indigenous heritage
    • Intangible heritage
    • Macassans
    • storytelling

    Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of ''All mucked up': sharing stories of Yolŋu-Macassan cultural heritage at Bawaka, north-east Arnhem Land'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this