Making connections: Hearing and sharing Macassan-Yolŋu stories

Rebecca H. Bilous*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Yolŋu people living in northeast Arnhem Land regularly celebrate their connections with the Macassan trepangers from Indonesian Sulawesi in storytelling, art and music. The history of this contact is well known in academic literature, and these stories of Macassan contact are told regularly by Yolŋu people to tourists visiting northeast Arnhem Land. This paper explores the impact that hearing stories about the Macassans from one Yolŋu family's tourism business had on a group of Australian Indonesian language teachers, visiting as part of an Endeavour Language Teaching Fellowship. It draws on ideas related to telling and hearing stories and argues that these particular stories enabled the teachers to make powerful connections: with each other and with Australia's histories and geographies. The paper also explores the ways in which the teachers went on to become storytellers themselves, using stories to make connections in their students' learning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)365-379
Number of pages15
JournalAsia Pacific Viewpoint
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2015


  • Indigenous Australia
  • Indonesian language
  • Macassan
  • stories
  • storytelling
  • teaching
  • Yolŋu


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