Indigenous Knowledge & Ways of Being

Some great resources for learning!


Delving deep into the Australian landscape and the environmental challenges we face, Fire Country is a powerful account from Indigenous land management expert Victor Steffensen on how the revival of cultural burning practices, and improved ‘reading’ of country, could help to restore our land.

From a young age, Victor has had a passion for traditional cultural and ecological knowledge. This was further developed after meeting two Elders, who were to become his mentors and teach him the importance of cultural burning. Developed over many generations, this knowledge shows clearly that Australia actually needs fire. Moreover, fire is an important part of a wholistic approach to the environment, and when burning is done in a carefully considered manner, this ensures proper land care and healing.

Victor’s story is unassuming and honest, while demonstrating the incredibly sophisticated and complex cultural knowledge that has been passed down to him, which he wants to share with others. Fire Country is written in a way that reflects the nature of yarning, and while some of the knowledge shared in this book may not align with Western views, there is much evidence that, if adopted, it could greatly benefit all Australians.

For every copy sold, Hardie Grant will donate $1 to Firesticks, which empowers Indigenous fire management practitioners to revive cultural burning.


“My hope is that every Australian has a copy of this book so that every Australian is empowered with the minimum learning required to positively impact the spaces of Reconciliation and Closing Gaps. Collectively, we have a responsibility that we are failing to deliver on. We are failing to eliminate racism from our country; dismantle the racist structures, systems, processes, institutions, and discrimination that still here today; and we are failing to preserve Australian Cultures and Heritage. I want this book to be a way to empower Australians with the confidence to walk together respectfully and successfully.”



Within the Education Revolution lies another, quieter revolution that attempts to raise the profile and status, and improve the learning outcomes, of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples – children, young adults, women and men. Two Way Teaching and Learning addresses the interface where two cultures meet – in the classroom, the school and the community. Most of the contributors to this book are Indigenous, and all are highly experienced practitioners drawn from academia, the teaching profession or the community. Together, and through a diversity of voices, they put the spotlight on policies and processes that facilitate informed, respectful relationships in education, as well as those that reinforce cultural inequity and inequality. The implications of policies that can be liberating, or devastating, for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students at all levels are exposed and explored with forensic care.



A rare, personal insight into the traditional teachings of an elder of the Yuin people (South Coast, NSW). ′Uncle′ Max, as he is widely known, has been sharing his cultural knowledge for over 30 years – in that time taking more than 6000 people from all walks of life onto country and explaining Aboriginal ways. This book′s content is drawn from extensive interviews with Uncle Max, who states that the teachings he reveals are ′the living treasures of my life′. 

Uncle Max provides simple and clear understandings into Aboriginal culture for people from all nationalities. His teachings cover their Creation Dreaming, bush lore, foods, healing, laws and punishment, spirituality and the significance of relationship to land. 

In passing on traditional wisdom Uncle Max focuses on three truths: See the land…the beauty; Hear the land…the story; Feel the land…the spirit.


The Catch: The Story of Fishing in Australia, author and avid fisher Anna Clark celebrates the enduring pleasure of fishing. Clark provides a unique insight into its history, from the first known accounts of Indigenous fishing and early European encounters with Australia’s waters, to the latest fishing trends; from the introduction of trout and fly-fishing to the challenges of balancing needs of commercial and recreational fishers. Readers learn fascinating stories, such as:

  • the innovative ways Indigenous women did line fishing
  • the challenges faced by the colonial fishing industry to sell fish before they spoiled
  • how fishing for trout in Tasmanian rivers evolved once the trout became uninterested in artificial flies

As the only illustrated general history of Australian fishing, The Catch provides a captivating insight into the history of one of Australia’s favourite pastimes.



Text by Cape York Elders and Community Leaders Photographed and recorded by Peter McConchie

Fire and the Story of Burning Country celebrates the timeless wisdom of Australia’s Traditional Custodians, it tells the story of how fire is used by Indigenous people across Australia to prevent wildfires through cool burning, a technique that has been applied to the Australian landscape for tens of thousands of years to cleanse and rejuvenate the land.

This is the seventh book by Peter McConchie who has worked for almost two decades with Elders and their communities across Australia, photographing and recording their culture so that it may reach a wider audience. Fire and the Story of Burning Country is a response from Elders to the devastating Black Saturday fires in Victoria during the summer of 2009.



This book chronicles the wisdom of Indigenous peoples and their traditional and contemporary ways of living. A series of chapters authored by tribal elders from various parts of Australia is supplemented by the author’s visually stunning photography. The book’s representative account of Aboriginal people’s lives, culture and beliefs in book form will appeal to a broad general audience.



Donna Meehan reflects back on her childhood memories of living in the bush with her brothers and her removal to the city, becoming an only child in a white family. Donna recalls her struggle with her identity – remembering traditions and customs of her old life in the outback and the adjustments she has had to make in strange city. Donna (aged 40) retells her life story with stark simplicity and honesty . She openly discusses the pain and isolation she has felt at not belonging or feeling at home with the society she has been brought up in. Her desperation took her close to suicide.

This is a powerfully sad yet also uplifting story – sad because of Donna’s long struggle to re-establish her family and culture and coming to terms with her own views about Aboriginal people; and uplifting because of Donna’s deep faith, her own strong family ties with her foster mother and her husband and sons. Donna’s story is retold with passion but with an absence of bitterness as she tells of the strangeness, and heartbreak of her experiences, and of the kindness of her adoptive family.