Seeing the Land from an Aboriginal Canoe



Commissioned by: Culture Victoria

Produced: 2015

Length: 10.27 minutes

Uncle Bryon Powell

Uncle Bryon Powell, Wadawurrung Elder, talks about stories of canoe use by Wadawurrung people. Interviewed on the banks of the Barwon River, Geelong. Still by Jary Nemo


Associate Professor Fred Cahir on the Big Screen, Fed Square, July 2015. Photograph by Jary Nemo.

Culture Victoria project

The Culture Victoria project included a full image gallery with archival images, extended audio interviews, and a specifically commissioned documentary.

Story Objects

The Culture Victoria story objects included film, audio and images with curatorial text created by Wind & Sky Productions and three specifically commissioned historical essays written by Fred Cahir and Lucinda Horrocks.


Waggoners Fording a Stream, Illustrated Australian News, engraver FW Sleap, 1883, courtesy of the State Library of Victoria.

Jamie Lowe, Djabwurrung man. Still by Jary Nemo.

Associate Professor Fred Cahir. Still by Jary Nemo.



The Story

On the rivers of remote Victoria, 19th century European settlers depended on Aboriginal navigators and canoe builders to transport goods, stock and people.

The Aboriginal bark canoe was a technology in demand in regional Victoria in the 1800s. Explorers and drovers, gold miners and settlers used Aboriginal ferrying services and boat building services to conduct trade and transport. Stories abound of trade, canoeing, and heroic rescues on rivers such as the Murray, Goulburn, Campaspe, Ovens and Loddon, shedding light on the generosity, resourcefulness and ingenuity of the Indigenous inhabitants and of the trading relationships formed between Aboriginal people and European colonists. Indeed it could be argued that the waterways skills of Aboriginal Australians were integral to the early economic viability of Victoria.

Multimedia Project

Wind & Sky Productions produced a short documentary film and multimedia gallery for Culture Victoria, curating the online exhibition and producing the text, video, audio and visual content. The project was launched on the 27 May 2015 to mark the beginning of National Reconciliation Week 2015. The documentary film screened at the Big Screen at Federation Square, Melbourne, from the 5-11 July 2015 as part of NAIDOC Week 2015. The project features interviews with the historian Associate Professor Fred Cahir and Traditional Owners Uncle Bryon Powell, Jamie Lowe and Rick Nelson, and includes artwork, maps and photographs from the regional and metropolitan collections of the State Library of Victoria, the Art Gallery of Ballarat, Public Record Office Victoria, Museum Victoria and the Ballarat Gold Museum. Three short historical essays written by Fred Cahir and Lucinda Horrocks were also specially produced for the project.



18 June 2017, St Andrews Film Society, St Andrews

26-28 May 2017, Gnarwirring Ngitj Festival, Sovereign Hill Ballarat

28 April 2017, Setting Sun Short Film Festival, Yarraville

28 September 2016, Australian Limnology Conference, Ballarat

July 2016, 2016 NAIDOC Week Special Screening, Child and Family Services (CAFS), Ballarat

27 May 2016, Phee Broadway Theatre, Castlemaine, Reconciliation Week Screenings

9-10 April 2016, Lake Bolac Eel Festival, Lake Bolac

12-14 March 2016, Geelong Wooden Boat Festival, Geelong

20 February 2016, Geelong Environmental Film Festival, Geelong

21 November 2015, Castlemaine Local and International Film Festival (CLIFF), Castlemaine

5-11 July 2015, The Big Screen, Federation Square, Melbourne


Museums and Galleries National Awards (MAGNA Awards) 2016, Highly Commended, Indigenous Project or Keeping Place, Level 2.

Finalist, Best Cultural Diversity, Setting Sun Short Film Festival, Yarraville, 2017.

Finalist, Best Documentary Metro, Setting Sun Short Film Festival, Yarraville, 2017.


Lucinda Horrocks, ‘seeing the land from an Aboriginal canoe’, Association Magazine, Art Gallery of Ballarat, Autumn 2017, pp.30-33.

Fred Cahir and Lucinda Horrocks, ‘Seeing the Land from an Aboriginal Canoe’, Park Watch Magazine, September 2016 No 266, pp 24-25.

Larissa Romensky, ‘Documentary film explores significance of Aboriginal entrepreneurship in Victoria during colonial times’, ABC Central Victoria, 19 November 2015,

Shane Fowles, ‘Seeing the Land from an Aboriginal Canoe documentary details indigenous assistance to settlers’, Geelong Advertiser, 7 July 2015,

Lucinda Horrocks radio interview, Breakfast with Dominic Brine, 107.9 ABC Ballarat, 6 July 2015.

Melissa Cunningham, ‘Ballarat’s Aboriginal history set to light up big screen’, Ballarat Courier, 2 July 2015,

Project Link

Film Credits

Produced by:
Jary Nemo and Lucinda Horrocks
Production Company:
Wind & Sky Productions
Directed and edited by:
Jary Nemo
Written and researched by:
Fred Cahir and Lucinda Horrocks
Fred Cahir, Uncle Bryon Powell, Jamie Lowe, Rick Nelson
Camera and Sound:
Jary Nemo
Lucinda Horrocks
Archival images courtesy of:
The Art Gallery of Ballarat and The State Library of Victoria.
With thanks to:
Uncle Frank Abrahams, Aunty Vicki Abrahams, John Blythman, Lauren Bourke, Maxine Briggs, Leonie Cameron, Charlotte Christie, Ian Clark, Jeremy Clark, Brett Dunlop, Peter Freund, Richard Gillespie, Barbara Huggins, Karmen Jobling, Tracey Manallack, Rosemary McInerney, Julie McLaren, Kimberley Moulton, Gordon Morrison, Grattan Mullett, Uncle Bill Nicholson, Melanie Raberts, Felicity Say, Vic Say, Aunty Loraine Sellings, Jeanette Tasker, Miriam Troon, Roger Trudgeon, John Tully, Uncle Larry Walsh, Simone Werts, John Young, the Art Gallery of Ballarat, the Ballarat Mechanics Institute, Brambuk National Park & Cultural Centre, Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation, Dunolly & District History, the Gold Museum Ballarat, Federation University Australia, the Koori Heritage Trust, Lake Tyers Aboriginal Trust, Museum Victoria, the Public Record Office Victoria, the State Library of Victoria, the Wathaurung Aboriginal Corporation, and the Wurundjeri Tribe Land and Compensation Cultural Heritage Council.
Commissioned by:
Culture Victoria
Funded by:
Creative Victoria
This film was created for the Culture Victoria website ( with the support of the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria. Film production and development took place on the traditional lands of the Djab Wurrung, Dja Dja Wurrung, Jardwadjali, Wadawurrung (Wathaurung), and Woiwurrung peoples. We would like to acknowledge these traditional owners and pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.
Copyright with:
© Wind & Sky Productions 2015.

Project Credits

Project Acknowledgements:
Development and filming for this project took place on the traditional lands of the Dja Dja Wurrung, Djab Wurrung, Jardwadjali, Wadawurrung (Wathaurung) and Woiwurrung speaking peoples. The team was also privileged to consult with and to be granted permission to use images and artwork from Taungurung, Yorta Yorta and Gunai/Kurnai speaking peoples. The project team acknowledges the traditional owners of the lands on which we live and work and we pay our respect to their Elders, past and present. Many people worked on this project and helped make it a reality. We thank them all.
Project Team
Creative Producers:
Jary Nemo and Lucinda Horrocks
Production Company:
Wind & Sky Productions
Film Director:
Jary Nemo
Writing and research:
Fred Cahir and Lucinda Horrocks
Fred Cahir, Uncle Bryon Powell, Jamie Lowe, Rick Nelson
Acknowledgments by Institution
Art Gallery of Ballarat:
Peter Freund, Julie McLaren, Gordon Morrison
Australian National Maritime Museum:
David Payne
Ballarat Mechanics Institute:
John Blythman, Rosemary McInerney
Brambuk National Park and Cultural Centre:
Uncle Frank Abrahams, Aunty Vicki Abrahams, Jeremy Clark, Jamie Lowe
Bill Horrocks, Heather Horrocks
Castlemaine ANTaR:
Rick Nelson, Paulette Nelson, Felicity Say, Vic Say
Cummerugunja Local Aboriginal Land Council:
Rebecca Atkinson
Culture Victoria:
Dimity Mapstone, Eleanor Whitworth, Tanya Wolkenberg
Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation:
Barbara Huggins
Dunolly Museum:
John Tully
Federation University Australia:
Fred Cahir, Ian Clark, John McDonald
Footscray Community Arts Centre:
Uncle Larry Walsh
Gunaikurnai Land & Waters Aboriginal Land Corporation:
Grattan Mullett
Koori Heritage Trust:
Nerissa Broben, Charlotte Christie
Lake Tyers Aboriginal Trust:
Leonie Cameron, Aunty Lorraine Sellings, Jeanette Tasker
Museum Victoria:
Richard Gillespie, Kimberley Moulton, Melanie Raberts, Miriam Troon
Public Record Office Victoria:
Lauren Bourke, Tracey Manallack
Sovereign Hill Museums Association: Gold Museum, Ballarat:
Brett Dunlop, Roger Trudgeon
State Library of Victoria:
Maxine Briggs
Wathaurung Aboriginal Corporation trading as Wadawurrung:
Uncle Bryon Powell, John Young, Simone Werts
Wind & Sky Productions:
Lucinda Horrocks, Jary Nemo
Wurundjeri Tribe Land and Compensation Cultural Heritage Council Incorporated:
Uncle Colin Hunter, Karmen Jobling, Aunty Alice Kolasa, Uncle Bill Nicholson, Charley Woolmore
Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation:
Aunty Janice Muir, Aunty Elsie Bailey, Ruben Baksh
Commissioned by:
Culture Victoria
Funded by:
Creative Victoria
Copyright with:
Content Producers and Collection Holders.




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