Ways of life: Knowledge transfer and Aboriginal heritage trails

Stephen Muecke, Jennifer Eadie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Aboriginal Heritage Trails are a growing phenomenon in Australia. They come in all shapes and sizes, from mere signage to—in the case of the famous Lurujarri trail out of Broome, Western Australia—a nine-day immersive experience walking the beach with one of the Goolarabooloo family groups. Here people experience the beautiful Indian Ocean coastline, extensive dinosaur footprints, storytelling, and meals of freshly caught fish, mangrove crab, dugong and turtle. These trails are far more than ‘tourism products’. For the Aboriginal families, with all ages present, they enact inter-generational knowledge transfer. Academic disciplines also change when they are ‘on Country’: Palaeontologists learn that the dinosaur footprints are also the traces of the emu ancestor, marala, and their discipline adjusts its epistemological parameters accordingly. Aboriginal walking trails have the potential to change every discipline willing to ‘re-boot’ on a territorial, rather than global, scale. Walking with one’s arts of paying attention on alert deepens and extends both European and Aboriginal knowledge, as they find agencies that can transfer and translate the multi-functionality inherent in the ecological ‘pluriverse’ that is this continent-wide network of dreaming tracks. Could this experiential model of knowledge transfer represent a path away from the nineteenth-century model of knowledge collection, storage and display that we find in universities and museums?.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1201-1213
Number of pages13
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 25 May 2020


  • aboriginal heritage trails
  • Indigenous Australia
  • knowledge transfer


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