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National Trust of Australia (NSW)

Living Heritage – sites, objects, language, plants and sky


Monday 4 September from 6pm to 8pm

Attend a free, thought-provoking Heritage Lecture about some of the world’s most significant Aboriginal Australian sites and stories.

The southeast is a culturally specific region of Aboriginal Australia taking in what’s known today as New South Wales, Victoria, and the lower parts of South Australia. Long ancestral connections, and subsequent waves of colonisation and resistance bind these communities together. This region is home to some of the world’s most significant sites including what’s understood to be the oldest ceremonial burial, human-made structure, and astronomical observatory, that ground us as the world’s oldest living culture.  

Although the southeast is where most Australians and Aboriginal people live, it’s not generally associated with Aboriginal heritage and culture. Policies, procedures and acts often prevent us from engaging with and maintaining cultural activities. In response, communities from these regions have developed unique methodologies that combine holding on to ancestral knowledge while waking up old connections to not only maintain culture but to continue our connections within a highly colonised space. The continued connection to culture is a global example of how communities own their heritage, and, in turn, influence change in cultural heritage as a practice. 

Led by Jonathan Jones, a renowned Wiradyuri/Kamilaroi artist and researcher, this talk seeks to draw out living cultural knowledges and how southeast communities today are maintaining them in areas that are important to us, including living sites, language, the sky, plants and objects.


  • Juanita Kelly-Mundine – a West Bundjalung woman engaged in cultural heritage conservation and protection of cultural property. Juanita is the First Nations Art Conservator at the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

  • Erin Rose – a Gunditjmara woman from South West Victoria and a delegate of the Budj Bim Cultural Landscape World Heritage Area, one of the world’s oldest aquaculture systems. She is the Budj Bim World Heritage Executive Officer at Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owners Aboriginal Cooperation, overseeing the management and protection of the Budj Bim Cultural Landscape and its values.

  • Krystal De Napoli – a Gomeroi award-winning author, astrophysicist and science communicator devoted to the advocacy of Indigenous knowledges and equity in STEM. Krystal is co-author of Astronomy: Sky Country (2022), winner of the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award People’s Choice Award (2023).

  • Zena Cumpston – a Barkandji woman who works as a writer, researcher, artist and storyteller. Zena was a co-author of the 2021 State of the Environment Report, working across several chapters, and recently co-authored the book 'Plants: past, present and future' as part of the First Knowledges series. She is particularly passionate about plants and the many ways they illuminate the ingenuity and scientific knowledge of her people.

  • Nathan Brennan – a Gumbaynggirr, Bundjalung and Gamilaraay man. He is passionate about Aboriginal language revitalisation and teaching, Aboriginal-led land and sea country management and threatened species management. He is part of the Ngiyambandigay Wajaarr Aboriginal Corporation, which has been developed to create opportunities for a holistic approach for Gumbaynggirr people to reacquire our land for the continuation of cultural practice, conservation, healing and social and economic development.

This event is presented as part of the ICOMOS 2023 General Assembly and is proudly presented by Australia ICOMOS, the National Trust of Australia (NSW) and the Committee for Sydney, supported by the City of Sydney.

Contact event organiser

National Trust of Australia (NSW)


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