These works were created by the Balarinji Design Studio. Based in Sydney, some of their most recognisable work includes four brightly painted Qantas aircraft. Four designs were chosen for the Australian Memorial.


A secret place by water where travellers gather in the cool of dusk. Arduous journeys across hot and dusty landscapes test the tribe’s resilience and capacity to adapt to danger and opportunity. Clan groups follow the tracks of their ancestors through sandhills and creeks to seasonal camping grounds by the billabong. Fish and turtles are caught and waterlily seeds are gathered to feed the tribe.

Totem stripes

Body paint applied with soft white ochre warmed by summer sun. Patterns of the dreaming are painted by the songmen, in rituals passed down from men to boys, from one generation of warriors to the next. Ancient art is etched into cave walls and rocky cliff faces, or painted with earth pigment on the body of dancers and songmen. Designs are sometimes everyday decoration, sometimes secret ceremonial symbols.


The wisdom of ancient tribes is a sustaining force of country. Knowledge is passed down from generation to generation around campfires under desert skies. The warriors’ shields are a symbol of protection. Navigating country comes from knowledge passed from warrior to warrior. Shields of clansmen carry ceremony marks to re-enact story and preserve identity. Tracks lead the warriors across dry dusty landscapes in a procession to new hunting grounds.

Abudji dance

Women’s dance of the creator snake ancestor. Women play a vital role in the ceremonial life of the tribe and have their own secret songs and dances. These are performed at women’s camps at times of importance. Knowledge is shared around the women’s campfire, as food is prepared after long journeys. Body paint and dance sticks tell the stories of the Dreaming when spirit ancestors crossed the land and named the mountains, rivers and seas.

Updated on 23rd July 2015