Monash University

Restricted Access

Reason: Under embargo until March 2020. After this date a copy can be supplied under Section 51 (2) of the Australian Copyright Act 1968 by submitting a document delivery request through your library, or by emailing

A Wiradjuri Ngurambang Cultural Chronicle and Ontology: Ways of Being and Dhurinya, Ways to Continue to Be - cultural maintenance and a context for mapping cultural history

posted on 2017-02-22, 22:53 authored by Robyn Frances Heckenberg
This thesis brings together textual and visual research work. Natural history and Indigenous connection to Country are presented and discussed in cultural and educational terms. As a Wiradjuri narrative, the work chronicles community arts’ initiatives in practical and theoretical terms, making the connection between the two dimensions by documenting and illustrating processes and relationships. The arts items
are discussed in their genesis and their realisation as expressions of cultural sovereignty, but also as elements supporting and feeding into economic sustainability.

  The thesis is framed and saturated through oral history and social commentaries presenting a background to Australian Indigenous art history, placing it in the context of the story of a living culture, reaching back into times immemorial, but also establishing a firm present-day basis for a confident and sustainable future. The work thus attempts to decolonise art theory and history as well as decolonise the community arts' dialogue. The interconnections between ancient philosophy and ancestral knowledge link land, kinship and spirit and find expression in cultural and artistic work.

  Finally, the dissertation examines the concept of story as an expression of the connection to Country which is realised and supported through an Indigenous place pedagogy. Throughout the work a context is established within which research protocols and ethics are firmly and consistently based on cultural guidelines and imperatives of Respect, Responsibility and Reciprocity. 

  Throughout, the argument of the thesis is supported by illustrations from my own studio work, by photos from Australian Indigenous history and relevant Australian art, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous. The work concludes with a set of recommended approaches which undergird the above cultural guidelines.

  Lexicon: Aboriginal, Indigenous, Koori and Wiradjuri are all terms used in this thesis to discuss Australian Indigenous person, with whom I identify.


Campus location


Principal supervisor

Robert Nelson

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre

Fine Art


Doctor of Philosophy

Degree Type



Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture

Usage metrics

    Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture Theses


    No categories selected


    Ref. manager