This activity aims to facilitate an understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people's belief systems and spiritual connection to the land, sea, sky and waterways. It also introduces the UNESCO World Heritage concept of Cultural Landscapes.
It provides context for students before they explore sources from the Library’s Pictures Collection in detail.
Begin by exploring the difference between a landforms and landscapes. You might consider having students collect and display images from the web ‘identifying different types of landscapes (for example, coastal, riverine, arid, mountain and karst) and describing examples from around the world'.
Students should also be able to describe some of the different types of landforms found within a landscape. Geoscience Australia has an excellent set of resources on Australian Landforms and their History which may be of use.
Focus the broader geographical discussion onto Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander content. Ask students what they already know about Australian Indigenous spirituality. What are Aboriginal Dreaming stories and Legends of the Torres Strait? Can students recall a Dreaming story or Legend that involves the formation, meaning and interconnection of a landform or landscape?
Look at the Reconciliation Australia resource ‘Who We Are: Country/Place’. Watch the video with the class and discuss it.
Introduce students to the UNESCO World Heritage List, and their concept of Cultural Landscapes. The website states:
Certain sites reflect specific techniques of land use that guarantee and sustain biological diversity. Others, associated in the minds of the communities with powerful beliefs and artistic and traditional customs, embody an exceptional spiritual relationship of people with nature.
To reveal and sustain the great diversity of the interactions between humans and their environment, to protect living traditional cultures and preserve the traces of those which have disappeared, these sites, called cultural landscapes, have been inscribed on the World Heritage List.
Ask students to conduct internet research on the main features of a UNESCO listed Cultural Landscape from a country other than Australia. They should then be prepared to discuss it at the next lesson. Compare their findings with features of Australian Cultural Landscapes.