Eora First People

Precious works of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture

Birds-eye view of the Eora First People exhibition space at the museum

WARNING: This website may contain the names, images and artworks of deceased people which may cause sadness or distress to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People.

  • About


    Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture is strongly entwined with the sea. This exhibition takes us on a journey from Tasmania to Far North Queensland and the Torres Strait, exploring this deep connection through art and adornments. 

    Eora means 'first people' in the language of the Darug, traditional owners of the land the museum now stands on.

    Precious works include:

    • elaborately carved and painted Pukumani burial poles from the Tiwi people
    • hollow log coffins decorated with the story of Mäna the shark. Following a funeral ceremony still practised today, the bones of the deceased are placed in the top of the log coffin.
    • ceremonial sculptures and handwoven works from Arnhem Land and Cape York
    • delicate shell work from Tasmania
    • spectacular headdresses, body ornaments and dance machines of the Torres Strait.
    Special feature: Saltwater - Yirrkala Bark Paintings of Sea Country

    This series of paintings explains the spiritual and legal basis of the Yolngu's claim on the Saltwater Country of north-east Arnhem Land. The stories were painted to teach the Balander (stranger or white people) about the lore and law of the Yolngu people. The collection is a record of sacred lore based on the wisdom of thousands of lifetimes.

    "... They represent a social history; an encyclopaedia of the environment; a place; a site; a season; a being; a song; a dance; a ritual; an ancestral story and a personal history."
    - Djon Mundine, OAM, Aboriginal curator, on the Saltwater paintings

    Ticket Information

    Open daily, 9.30am–5pm

    FREE entry

    See our Admissions page for full price information and to book your tickets. Our Plan Your Visit page has everything you need to know about a trip to the museum.

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    Objects on display in the Eora gallery at the Australian National Maritime MuseumObjects on display in the Eora gallery at the Australian National Maritime Museum
  • Explore online

    Explore online

    Visit the Living Knowledge website. This site is part of a three year Australian Research Council (ARC) research project Indigenous knowledge and Western science pedagogy: a comparative approach. The project aims to determine the most effective ways of incorporating Indigenous knowledge within the NSW secondary school science curricula.

  • Info for Teachers and Schools

    Info for Teachers and Schools

    Excursion preparation information for visiting schools: Plan Your Visit

    Book a school visit and program