Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are advised that this presentation contains content which may be considered culturally sensitive including the images and voices of people who have passed away. 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have called this continent, and its surrounding islands ‘home’ for millennia.

Knowledge, spirit, culture, song, ceremony and stories are embedded in the lands, skies, mountains and waterways – connection to, respect for, and caring of Country allows this to continue.

For more than 250 years people from around the globe have brought new stories, ideas, cultures, religions and practices to Australia. Movement has also bought disease, violence, disruption and dispossession, however through adversity and resilience, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People and Communities have been able to maintain the world’s oldest continuing living cultures.

Today, many celebrate Australia as a multicultural nation, a place where people of different backgrounds exist together in a society that embraces cultural differences, providing opportunities for prosperity and harmony.

Learn more about the Library's Enlighten 2024 illuminations below, or watch the video.

Neville Bonner: And when I go back over my knowledge of history anyway and what the history books tell us that the First Fleet landed here in 1788 and Governor Phillips was in charge of the whole thing. And he landed at Botany Bay and he walks up the beach and he grabs a flag of the United Kingdom, or England was as it was in those days, and plants this flag there and claims this land in the name of the then British reigning monarch, George III. 

Now, there was no consideration or understanding of the occupation by the indigenous people of this whole continent. For thousands upon thousands of years prior to landing at Botany Bay.  

Lynne Sanders-Braithwaite: Mum's side was the respectable side of our family all our lives. And they're the ones that had the main influence on us as children. So they were, they were, the goodies and dad's side were a little bit not so goodies. And next thing along comes this long lost cousin who's put the family history together and no one mentioned, that's where the nine convicts were, was in mum's side of the family. So they'd neatly hidden the first, the first Irish female rebel to get transported to Australia was one of the grandmothers. And another one gets described as a, a woman of loose morals, even on a convict ship. Proud of her too. That goes in with my nine and a half pounds.

Roland Chin: My grandfather also went back to China as a young man. So he actually did some of his education there, whether you call it primary school or junior high. And, and he married his first wife in China and that's, I'm from the second wife. So the first wife had two children and because of the white Australia policy, he couldn't bring him here, he couldn't bring his wife here, so she stayed in China. 

Peter Katsoulis: Luckily when the Orient Liner landed at Circular Quay, there were two, three Greeks and they were from Kythera because there were only Kytherians in Sydney at the time. 

Michael Cigler: Well, like, like all the refugees, you don't think about it straight away. I mean it's, it's a decision you make at the moment and, but I knew that I just couldn't live in that country anymore. So I thought whatever will happen, whatever conditions I'll be living under, I think they still will be better as they are. 

Kathleen Golder: And I was getting onto six months pregnant and I said, I'll get on that boat if it's the last damn thing I'll do, I'll get on. I don't care if I'm in labour, I'll get on that boat.  

It was raining as it would be in London in November. And I was crying, crying out, dear me, I didn't want to leave. Really, you know, it was my home, it was my family, my brothers and every, all my family were there. I didn't want to leave, but it was the best thing I ever did. 

Everest Pitt: I loved everything about Australia. Still do. Like to me, if it was like, which country would you die for? Well, I put one foot in Fiji and one foot in Australia. I would die like that because I've given over 48 years of my life to the country. 

Vian Zixin Lin [speaking Manadrin]: I think my parents would shed tears [during our farewell]. My mother did her best to suppress her emotions, but my father openly wept. I still remember that every time I boarded a flight back to Brisbane in the first two years, I would inexplicably find myself crying on the plane. I don’t know why I cried. I made the decision myself to leave, to leave them, and to embark on a new life in a different place. I was resolute in my determination. But I don’t know why I cried on the plane. 

Van Thi-The Huynh: The interpreter knew we were accepted and he said to us, ‘why you go to Australia? It's a very, very big country, but not many people. And you see if you live in the country, it's very boring’. But we didn't mind at all. We just very happy and knew we were accepted. 

Our Enlighten 2024 illuminations use the Library’s remarkable and ever-growing pictures collection to represent diverse connections to place and Country. They tell stories of migration, multiculturalism, sadness, joy and courage. They invite audiences to reflect on arrivals, departures, and constants. Leaving ‘home’. Coming ‘home’. Being ‘home’.  

The piece is framed by beautiful night sky images by artist Dr Judith Nangala Crispin who was a Creative Arts Fellow at the Library in 2021.

The images are supported by a soundscape that showcases voices from our Oral History and Folklore Collection.

A sense of home can bring us together regardless of our heritage. Find your home at your National Library.

Oral histories in the soundscape

Neville Bonner, speaking in 1983, reminds us that our history didn't begin in 1788.

Lynne Sanders-Braithwaite shares the story of discovering a convict in her family tree.

Roland Chin speaks about the impact of the White Australia policy on his family.

Peter Katsoulis remembers joining the Kytherian community in Sydney in 1913, arriving at the age of 16.

Kathleen Golder recounts her story as a ‘Ten Pound Pom’, boarding a ship bound for Australia with a two-week-old baby.

Michael Cigler speaks about the moment of realisation that he would need to leave his country as a refugee.  

Everest Pitt describes combining her Fijian heritage with a love for Australia as her new home.

Speaking in Mandarin, Vian Zixin Lin tells us:


"I think my parents would shed tears [during our farewell]. My mother did her best to suppress her emotions, but my father openly wept. I still remember that every time I boarded a flight back to Brisbane in the first two years, I would inexplicably find myself crying on the plane. I don’t know why I cried. I made the decision myself to leave, to leave them, and to embark on a new life in a different place. I was resolute in my determination. But I don’t know why I cried on the plane."

Van Thi-The Huynh explains the limited understandings of Australia she and her family had before leaving, but the happiness they felt to be accepted.

Sound effects and music in the soundscape

Blue Mountains nature sounds recorded by Kevin Bradley in the Environmental sounds collection, 1995, nla.cat-vn8419046

Additional nature sound recordings courtesy Kimmo Vennonen.

Mary Byrnes sings 'Botany Bay', Mary Byrnes interviewed by John Meredith for John Meredith Folklore field recordings, 1953-1961

Song: 'Spreading the Sea-Wrack / Native Land, Adieu!',  The New Albion Music Project: the 2019 National Folk Fellowship Concert and lecture given by Shane Lestideau at the National Library of Australia on 19 November 2019

Song: 'Tarantella Dell'emigrante', Sonu: Italian songs from the National Library: the 2018 National Folk Fellowship concert given by Salvatore Rossano on 29 November 2018

Song: ‘Melodia pa' un amigo’, Antonio Penayo interviewed by Salvatore Rossano in the Salvatore Rossano folklore collection

Images featured in the illuminations

Dr Judith Nangala Crispin, Ascending Being 8, For ascending night-flyers, the lights of Wangaratta grow increasingly smaller, until they resemble constellations, and the difference between above and below is lost. Four starlings climb into a black mirror sky, on their return trip to Zeta Reticuli, star country of intergalactic birds.

William Macleod, Aboriginal resistance to Captain Cook's landing, 1888, nla.obj-145314525

Edward Dayes, A scene by moonlight, ca. 1797, nla.obj-134427050

Thomas Medland and Robert Cleveley, A view of Botany Bay 1789, nla.obj-135910024

Samuel Thomas Gill, The first landing place of Captain Cook, Botany Bay, N.S.W., 1850s, nla.obj-134353509

John Allcot, The First Fleet in Sydney Cove, January 27, 1788, 1938, nla.obj-135776002

Alexr. Hogg, Captains Hunter, Collins & Johnston with Governor Phillip, Surgeon White &c. visiting a distressed female native of New South Wales at a hut near Port Jackson, 1793, nla.obj-135775134

Elizabeth Walker, The emigrants, 1804-1875, nla.obj-135890752

Thomas Rowlandson, Convicts embarking for Botany Bay, 1800s, nla.obj-135232630

Edward Dayes and Thomas Watling, Western view of Sydney Cove, 1797, nla.obj-134426258

Sheep shearing shed, at "smoko" (time called for rest & sharpening shears), Colony of Queensland, 1860, nla.obj-147338449

From the verandah of an Australian station, 1870 nla.obj-135501638

The old Australian convict ship : now in Michigan City, 1923, nla.obj-2636598712

B.F Wallace, The Australian convict ship Success, 1900-1914, nla.obj-138302992

David Tulloch, Golden Point, Ballarat, 1851 nla.obj-135588910

Samuel Thomas Gill, The new rush, 1864, nla.obj-139537379

William Yang, The wedding of Felix and Lannie, Sydney, 1987, nla.obj-146596377

W Newman, Female emigration, 1834, nla.obj-135583987

Star Photo Company, Chinese vegetable vendor, Sydney, 1880-1920, nla.obj-153091477

Harold Cazneaux, Circular Quay west, 1910-1940, nla.obj-140178827

Arthur Calwell welcoming British migrants, ca. 1945-1949, nla.obj-137017320

London News Agency Photos Ltd., British women migrants aboard passenger ship, London, ca. 1920s, nla.obj-138115134

Jewish migrants arriving in Australia, 1939 nla.obj-137251339

P&O and Robert Johnston, There's a welcome ‘down under' for you : boomerang tickets to Australia and back at greatly reduced cost, 1950s, nla.obj-396613832

Australia : the land of sunshine, health & prosperity, nla.obj-153508575

J. G & Australia. Department of Information. Australia land of tomorrow, 1950s, nla.obj-137199963

£10 takes you to Australia : children under 19 go free!, 1960, nla.obj-1107337919

Migrants arriving at an Australian port, 1964, nla.obj-136962201

Robin Smith, Italian migrant gardeners, Adelaide suburbs, South Australia, ca. 1960, nla.obj-147761060

A crowd welcomes a ship, possibly bearing European migrants, arriving at pier, Melbourne, ca. 1950, nla.obj-141717767

David Moore, Migrants arriving in Sydney, 1966, nla.obj-143546805

Your family will flourish in Australia : you can go to Australia for only £10, 1952, nla.obj-113356872

Children wearing traditional Hungarian clothing marching in a parade celebrating the Jubilee of the Commonwealth of Australia, Hunter Street, Newcastle, New South Wales, 1951, nla.obj-466640711

Migrants from Greta camp arrive at Civic Park for the Cultural Centre fair, Newcastle, New South Wales, 29 October 1949, nla.obj-462158095

Don Edwards, May Srour, a young migrant from Lebanon studying Situational English at the Preston Tyler Street School, Melbourne, Victoria, December 1970, nla.obj-137669219

Lannon Harley, Mehndi being applied to a customer's hand at Boishakhi Mela, Bengali New Year, Sydney Olympic Park, Sydney, 20 April 2013, nla.obj-132312434

Jim Hooper, Bharatam Dance Company production, Alice, National Theatre, St. Kilda, Melbourne, 2 June 1999, nla.obj-137046184

Jim Hooper, Bharatam Dance Company production, Navagraha: the Planets of Destiny, at George Fairfax Studio, Melbourne Arts Centre, 7 June 1996, nla.obj-137046665

Anne Zahalka, Cronulla, jewel of the Shire, 2010, nla.obj-138074949

John McKinnon, Greek family celebrate Greek Easter Day, Melbourne, 1975, nla.obj-138047117

June Orford, Helen, the tutor, centre, discusses points of interest with her students, refugees from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Ethiopia and the former Yugoslavia, at the Fitzroy Learning Network, Fitzroy, Victoria, 2005, nla.obj-137095513

Patrick McArdell, Housing officer, Mr Tony Destradi talking to some members of a Vietnamese family, Melbourne, Victoria, 1979, nla.obj-3092378439

Jon Lewis, Chinese student ice-cream seller, Bondi, nla.obj-147363320

Barat Ali Batoor, Hotel in Sungai Kolok, 2012, nla.obj-29634957882012

Claire Williams, Fijian Drua fan draped in a Fijian flag at the Fijian Drua vs ACT Brumbies Super Rugby Pacific match, GIO Stadium Canberra, Bruce, Australian Capital Territory, 26 February 2022, nla.obj-3042306958

Michael Jensen, Photographs of Vietnamese boat people, Darwin, November 1977, nla.obj-149648551

Anna Zhu, Youth, 2008, nla.obj-2988780134

Anna Zhu, Aliza Chin beside door with cartoon characters, Sydney, New South Wales, 8 May 2022, nla.obj-3064087654

Anna Zhu, Making Do, 2008, nla.obj-2988779818

Anna Zhu, Diaries, 2008, /nla.obj-2988779974

Ken Leanfore, Fairfield City Council's Cabramatta Moon Festival, 28 August 2022

Darren Clark, Mikayla Parry in Broken Arm Creek, Wudikapildiyerr outstation, Daly River, Northern Territory, 5 July 2010 nla.obj-152235026

Darren Clark, Aboriginal children playing football, Wudikapildiyerr outstation, Daly River, Northern Territory, 25 June 2010, nla.obj-152235728

Dr Judith Nangala Crispin, Ascending Being 1, Martin dreams a barn owl into being, over Mt Jillamatong, on a night of flying saucers and stars.