Brisbane City Council helps to preserve and communicate Aboriginal cultural heritage through initiatives such as bushland culture trails and heritage trails.

Nurri Millen totems - Boondall Wetlands

In 1996, nationally renowned Indigenous artist, the late Ron Hurley, worked with six local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to study and research the Indigenous culture of the Boondall Wetlands. Together, they developed and reinforced their cultural identity by creating a series of contemporary totems symbolising various aspects of their culture. The totems form part of Council's public art collection.

The 18 cast aluminium totems refer to food, plants and animals, tools, camp life and the Dreaming. Each totem is placed near a related site, or plant and animal habitat within the wetlands. Many of the totems are supported or framed by tools including shields and boomerangs.

Indigenous people have an extensive history in the region. The wetlands in Boondall and Tinchi Tamba contained campsites, ceremonial grounds and essential supplies such as food, fibres and medicines. Today, many local groups continue to have direct ties to this land for ceremonial and teaching purposes. This artwork is an important tool to communicate the area's stories and traditions, and to celebrate its cultural significance. 

Find out more about the Boondall Wetlands.

Nurri Millen Totem Trail map and text views

Council heritage trails with points of interest showcasing Aboriginal culture

Breakfast Creek to Bretts Wharf Heritage Trail

Point of interest 4: Local Aboriginal history at Cameron Rocks Reserve, Hamilton

Breakfast Creek, Newstead and Hamilton are culturally and spiritually significant to the Turrbal people. They provide the source of life, meaning, connectivity and cultural vitality and are an integral part of the diverse cultural network of rivers, creeks, floodplains, camp sites, swamps, pathways and hunting ground that constitute the Turrbal Riverine system.

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Petrie Terrace Heritage Trail

Point of interest 5: Aboriginal history 

Tom Petrie grew up in the fledgling settlement of Brisbane town in the 1840s. Throughout his time he witnessed many intertribal gatherings around Petrie Terrace. These intertribal gatherings included large ceremonies, corroborees and tournaments where up to one thousand people camped in the vicinity. The main tournament and fighting ground for those who camped around Petrie Terrace was down the hill in the vicinity of where Roma Street station and Roma Street Parkland are located today.

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Sandgate Heritage Trail

Point of interest 7: Aboriginal campsite (former) at the corner of Cliff Street and Flinders Parade, Sandgate

Before European settlement, Sandgate was home to many Aboriginal people. The largest and most used campsite stretched from the southern end of Flinders Parade and along Sandgate Foreshores Park to the former Baptist Church. Important ceremonies such as corroborees were conducted at the bora ground in what is now known as the Sandgate Golf Links.

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The Gabba's Hidden Gems Heritage Trail

Point of interest 17: 'Fight talk place' at corner of Stanley Street and Main Street, Woolloongabba

The name 'Woolloongabba' is believed to be the Aboriginal word for ‘fight talk place’. One of the largest Aboriginal camps on the southern side of the river was situated where the former railway goods yards were located. On the land beside the camp there was a significant fighting ground where hundreds of men from different southside groups would gather and take part in important events. As well as the fighting ground, the bora ground on the southern side of the river was used for ceremonies, including male initiation ceremonies.

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Last updated: 27 October 2023

Brisbane City Council acknowledges this Country and its Traditional Custodians. We pay our respects to the Elders, those who have passed into the dreaming; those here today; those of tomorrow.