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Useful Notes / Aboriginal Australians
aka: Australian Aborigines

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Aboriginal Australians refers the various Indigenous peoples of Australia, covering the Australian mainland and many of its islands, such as Tasmania, Fraser Island, Hinchinbrook Island, the Tiwi Islands, and Groote Eylandt, but excluding the Torres Strait Islands. Collectively, Aboriginal Australians and Torres Strait Islanders are known as Indigenous Australians, or First Australians. The term "Aborigine" was used historically but is now widely regarded as offensive.


The term 'Aboriginal Australians' covers hundreds of nations and groups with distinct languages, cultures, customs, beliefs and laws. There are also a number of names used to identify groups based on broad geographic regions:

  • Anangu in northern South Australia, and neighbouring parts of Western Australia and Northern Territory
  • Goorie in South East Queensland and some parts of northern New South Wales
  • Koori (or Koorie) in New South Wales and Victoria
  • Murri in southern Queensland
  • Nunga in southern South Australia
  • Noongar in southern Western Australia
  • Palawa in Tasmania
  • Tiwi on the Tiwi Islands

Aboriginal peoples have the oldest continuous culture in the world. While there are varying estimates as to how long they have lived on the continent, current research shows that they have occupied mainland Australia for at least 65,000 years, indicating that their ancestors were among the earliest groups to leave Africa. As a result, they have an older claim to the land they currently inhabit than any other population known.


Since colonisation, there have been sixty-seven definitions of Aboriginality. In the past, definitions were based on racialised categories called blood quantums and laws affecting Aboriginal peoples' daily lives were applied according to the relative colour of individuals' skin and 'degree of Aboriginal blood'. This included policies of child removal between the 1900s and 1970s, in which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children of mixed descent were taken from their families with the objective of integrating them into white society and 'breeding out' their Aboriginality. The intergenerational trauma experienced by these Stolen Generations, their families and communities continues to be felt to this day.

Referring to Aboriginal people by degrees of blood thus remains highly offensive. While each community has their own means of community identification, for government purposes the current definition of an Aboriginal person is somebody who is

  • of Aboriginal descent,
  • identifies as a Aboriginal, and
  • is accepted as such by the community in which they lives or have lived.

Aboriginal peoples are are a well-known fixture of the world's perspective of Australia.

A brief history

Australian Aboriginals are also often an awkward subject for Aussies, due to a long history of white-dominated government actively discriminating against them. Students studying Australian history have been known to describe it as "200+ years of Aboriginals getting fucked over", when confronted with the fact Aboriginals have been disregarded, feared, abused, exploited, and generally treated with hostility by European colonists. The popular European conception of Aboriginals tells enough of a story: Starting as noble savages during the early years of colonisation, then shifting to uneducatable barbarians as the colonists started wanting more land and outright supplanting them. By the time of the late 1800s, where colonial power was consolidated, Aboriginals were pretty much completely absent in all depictions of the Outback, including the legendary poems of Banjo Paterson and contemporaries, and the official attitude was that they were a 'dying race' and whites could only 'smooth the deathbed pillow'.

During the 20th century, the government policy towards them was, effectively, genocide up to the 1960s note  (see the Stolen Generations), with efforts made to eradicate their culture, language, history, heritage, and general assimilation into a supposedly more 'enlightened' (read: white) way of living - on top of, of course, good old fashioned massacres. In the 60s, Aboriginal activists became increasingly associated with the 'Black Power' movement in the United States of America. One activist, Charles Perkins, was even dubbed 'Australia's Martin Luther King' by a US commentator. Aboriginals slowly gained many of the rights and recognition they fought for, and have become recognised as an inseparable part of Australia as a culture, a nation and a place, but many, many problems still remain to be solved.

The situation today

Today, the subject and issues of Australian Aboriginals continue to be a difficult, sensitive and touchy issue amongst Australians, especially white ones, which still urgently needs discussion. Aboriginals have, on average, a life expectancy twenty years shorter than that of the many other races in Australia, being particularly afflicted with heart and liver problems linked to rife alcoholism in the community. In 2008, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd officially gave a national apology to the Stolen Generations (mostly likely encouraged by the previous Prime Minister's well-known refusal to do so) meant to indicate a change in national policy towards Aboriginals. Since then there has been a concentrated effort in regards to racism (notably centered on former AFL player and Australian of the Year Adam Goodes) as well as varying degrees of acceptance from both races.

At last count, according to government statistics, there are estimated to be about half a million Australian Aboriginals living in the country. This accounts for less than 3% of Australia's population. Many live in remote communities. The Northern Territory has the biggest population of Australian Aboriginals on the continent (around 30%). The first Indigenous leader of a state or territory, Adam Giles, became Chief Ministernote  of the Northern Territory in March of 2013. Many Australian Aboriginals are of mixed White and Aboriginal descent to varying degrees, but this is rarer in the more northern and central populations. Aboriginals in media are somewhat rare, although more common than other non-White Australians.note  Foreign-written portrayals of Australia tend to consider them interchangeable with the standard Magical Native American, which some Australian works are also prone to. Others range from the Noble Savage take to attempts at more nuanced and realistic representations of native Australians.

It's notable to point out that most of the films mentioned star David Gulpilil in some capacity or another.

Recently, Budj Bim became recognised as a world wonder. It is one of the oldest built structures, a series of artificial lakes and channels that Indigenous South Australians used to capture, harvest, and store eels, and even had relatively large villages around.

Depictions of Australian Aboriginals in fiction:


  • Dark Skinned Red Head (at least in the anime), cyborgized supercop Kiddy Phenil from Silent Möbius.
  • A particularly embarrassing portrayal occurs in an episode of Gigantor, where they look and act like stereotypical Native Americans. This is because in the original Japanese anime version, Tetsujin 28, they were stereotypical Native Americans, since the episode involved the cast traveling from Japan to America, but since the English version was already (ostensibly) set in America...
  • In season 2 of Pacific Rim: The Black the "Bunyip-Man" (no real name given) is all but outright stated to be Aboriginal. He fulfills a Magical Native American-like narrative niche as being closer to nature and able to tame the Kaju, and then he's proven wrong and dies horribly. He's also voiced by a white voice actor.
  • The Swiss Family Robinson: Flone of the Mysterious Island introduces Tom-Tom, a native Australian boy, halfway through the series. It is mentioned that his parents were killed by white settlers, which why he is initially distrustful of the Robinsons, but later he opens up with them and teaches them how to survive more effectively on the island.

Comic Books

  • Crossed: One annual story takes place in Australia and features an Aboriginal tribe living at Uluru. They are contemptuous of white New Age Retro Hippies who have fled to the area but tolerate their presence. When the Crossed finally reach Uluru, the tribe flees into the desert and expresses confidence about their continued survival.
  • Betty Clawman of The New Guardians is an Aboriginal person who attained powers related to Dreamtime (naturally). Most of the time she appears as a disembodied green sun head.
  • Appearing in Marvel's Contest of Champions (1982), Talisman was an Aboriginal shaman with vaguely defined magical powers. He has had only one subsequent appearance.
  • From X-Men there's Gateway (an Aboriginal shaman who associated with the team during their stay in Australia) and his time-travelling great-grand children, siblings Lucas Bishop (a former member who was revealed to be Aboriginal rather than African-American as previously assumed) and Dark-Skinned Blonde Shard (who was transformed into a sentient hologram after getting killed in the line of duty before getting killed for good a second time).
  • Secret Warriors member Eden Fesi, an Aboriginal Reality Warper who mostly uses his powers for Thinking Up Portals. He was under the care of Gateway before being recruited by Nick Fury. More recently, he was recruited to The Avengers.
  • One of the members of Global Frequency is an Australian police officer of Aboriginal descent.
  • The Multiversity: The Thunderer of Earth-7 is an Aboriginal thunder god, an Alternate Company Equivalent of Thor.
  • The New 52 version of the wizard Shazam! was Aboriginal, later revealed in Darkseid War to be Mamaragan, a Gunwinggu ancestral being of lightning (described in the comic as a 'Aboriginal thunder god').
  • During House of M, the Hulk had a Mighty Whitey storyline where he became the champion of an oppressed Aboriginal tribe. When reality is restored to normal, he's still in Australia, and an Aboriginal shaman manages to detect this alternate history with the Hulk and offers him a place with them.
  • Elektra (2014) by W. Haden Blackman and Michael Del Mundo features an Aboriginal villain named Bloody Lips. A superhuman capable of absorbing the powers, skills and memories of others through cannibalism, he is presented as an animalistic character who shuns modern society, dresses in animal skins, fights with spears and worships a mystical serpent (seemingly a perversion of the Rainbow Serpent, a benevolent creator spirit significant to many Aboriginal cultures) who encourages him to kill. The portrayal, perhaps unwittingly, taps into racist characterisations of traditional Aboriginal cultures as savage and cannibalistic, ideas which date back to early colonialism and persist in the present day. Pauline Hanson, a current member of the Australian Parliament, made false claims in 1997 that Aboriginal peoples historically ate their babies and elderly, and in 2010 former AFL footballer Mal Brown was decried for referring to Aboriginal players as "cannibals".
  • Suicide Squad (2020) by Tom Taylor and Bruno Redondo features a Ngarluma vigilante named Thylacine. In creating the character, Taylor (who is white) consulted extensively with Aboriginal writer, actress and director Shari Sebbens and writer Ryan Griffen. Although the extinct marsupial predator from which Thylacine takes her name is most commonly known as the Tasmanian Tiger, the thylacine was originally found throughout the Australian mainland, including the Ngarluma country of the Pilbara, which still has songs, language, rock art and cultural knowledge about the animal.

Fan Fiction

  • The Hetalia: Axis Powers fancomic Maaf does bring up the issue of Australian Aboriginals, although how nuanced, balanced or fair it is (especially in relation to the colonists and immigrants) is up to the reader.


  • The Tracker, a somewhat strange and surreal Western-style film, is considered a major turning point in the portrayal of Aboriginal peoples and white perceptions of them. There's been debate on exactly what it means.
  • Australia
  • The Chant Of Jimmy Blacksmith
  • Walkabout, in which two white children stranded in the outback are saved by an Aboriginal boy.
  • Crocodile Dundee
  • Kangaroo Jack: An Aboriginal man appears in a minor role as a Native Guide, and later gets an Undercover Cop Reveal.
  • Rabbit-Proof Fence: Very Loosely Based on a True Story.
  • The Sapphires: the titular group are four Aboriginal women who form a soul group and sing for the American troops in Vietnam. Issues like the Stolen Generations (one of the girls was fairer than the others and was removed to Melbourne when she was a child) and racism (the girls lose a contest they should have won because the people holding it give the prize to an inferior singer) come up over the course of the film.
  • Mabo: A made-for-tv film about Eddie Mabo, the Torres Strait Islander who spearheaded a successful campaign and court battle for Aboriginal land rights.
  • Quigley Down Under: The villain is an obvious bigot who hates them. (But he does give a Freudian Excuse.)
  • The Proposition
  • The Right Stuff
  • The Nightingale: Set in Tasmania (formerly Van Diemen's Land), but depicts the bloody "Black War" against the Palawa people of Tasmania, while the two protagonists are respectively an Irish convict woman and a young Aboriginal man who bond over the shared suffering at the hands of the British.
  • Mystery Road: The main character is an Aboriginal police detective who has to suffer a lot of racial persecution from the community, while witnessing his superiors uncaring attitude towards the murder of an Aboriginal girl.
    • The sequel, Goldstone discusses the family history of the character, and what his people have endured at the hands of colonization, while he tries to get closer to his roots. A subplot also follows the villains' attempt to forcibly acquire the local tribes land, with the head of the council being in their pocket, but a respected elder resisting them.
  • Cargo: The feature-length remake focuses greatly on the local Aboriginal community, and their response to the Zombie Apocalypse, prospering with their knowledge of the land and skill with melee weapons. At the end of the movie, they, and the refugees they've taken in are doing the best out of the cast.


  • Otherland includes a few, most notably Dread.
  • The hero of the Bony mystery series is a half-Aboriginal police detective. Aboriginals and tribal culture feature strongly in several books.
  • Dark Heavens: Uluru's human form is that of an elderly Aboriginal woman.

Live-Action TV

  • Modern Australian kids shows tend to feature Aboriginal kids as more-or-less average Aussie kids, e.g. Fiona from Round the Twist (Season 2 only), Egg from Lockie Leonard.
  • The brilliant historical drama My Place features many Aboriginal main characters - the end of the first episode deals with the effect of the National Apology for the Stolen Generations on an Aboriginal girl and her family.

    Season 2 covers the lives of many Aboriginal characters and families, notably including those at the time of, and before, the first colony.
  • Double Trouble, a short-lived series for Australia's Disney Channel, was about identical twin Aboriginal teenage girls, one from the city and one from the country, who discover each other's existence and decide to switch identities.
  • Redfern Now, a phenomenally passionate, challenging, and realistic depiction of working-class, inner-city trials with a focus on Aboriginal Australians in the suburb of Redfern.
  • The Gods of Wheat Street, a 2014 ABC series revolving around a middle-class Aboriginal family in the rural NSW town of Casino.
  • The 2007-2009 SBS series The Circuit followed a half-Aboriginal city lawyer who moves to the remote Kimberley region in Western Australia to work in the local circuit court.
  • As one could expect several Blue Heelers episodes centered on the treatment of the Original Australians such as the collection of artifacts from exhumed aboriginals or the Stolen Generation. They very much try and keep an even keel and treat the matters with the gravity it deserves from all sides involved.
  • Cleverman is a science fiction series based in Indigenous Australian mythology and featuring a predominantly Aboriginal cast and crew.
  • Doctor Who: Australian companion Tegan is fluent in Aboriginal languages, and in The Sarah Jane Adventures, Sarah tells the kids that Tegan later became an activist for Aboriginal rights.

Mythology and Religion

Tabletop Games

  • Old World of Darkness:
    • Mage: The Ascension: Up until the recent past, Awakened Aboriginals who joined a Tradition generally joined up with the shamanistic Dreamspeakers (the other Traditions left Australia to them, feeling that whatever magical secrets Australia possessed, the Dreamspeakers had a lock on them).
    • Werewolf: The Apocalypse: Australia's Changing Breeds, having been established long before colonisation, have historically drawn their human Kinfolk from the Aboriginals: the now-extinct Bunyip werewolves (actually thylacines), Camazotz werebats, and the Mokole werelizards' Australian stream, the Gumagan. The Uktena werewolves, who arrived post-colonization, now include Australian Aboriginals among their numbers.
    • Wraith: The Oblivion: Australian Aboriginal wraiths reside in Karta, the Dark Kingdom of Clay, a hidden island in The Underworld. Australian wraiths of other ethnicities reside in Australia's Shadowlands, the continent's dark mirror in the Underworld.
    • Changeling: The Dreaming: Australia's native fae, the Spirit Beings, have long and deep ties to their mortal Aboriginal kin, and some European Kithain have been born to, or adopted by, Aboriginal kinships.


  • Bran Nue Dae is the musical story of a boy from Broome who runs away from his school in Perth. Notable because it was written and performed almost entirely by Aboriginals, and has an "Aboriginal Pride" theme. In 2009 it was made into a movie, with Geoffrey Rush as the white antagonist.

Video Games

  • Purna, the gun-specialist of the four playable characters of Dead Island, is a former cop turned bodyguard of Koori descent. She spent over a decade clawing up ranks, the progress of which was hampered because of her ethnicity and gender, which she lost due to an altercation with a guy who could screw the rules over with his connections. She decided that being a cop in such a corrupt place wasn't worth it and went to be a bodyguard despite her distaste for her clientele.
  • Jeffrey McWild from Virtua Fighter, a fisherman who practices the Greek fighting art Pankration. He enters the World Fighting Tournament seeking prize money in order to fund his expeditions in finding the Devil Shark. Jeffrey is, oddly, sometimes given more Jamaican traits.
  • Pink Panther's Passport to Peril: Kumoken, one of the children in Camp Chilly Wa-Wa, is an Aboriginal. In the same game, Pink also visits Australia, where he meets Kumoken's family and learns a lot about Aboriginal culture.

Visual Novels

  • While its a furry work, Lands of Fire extensively details the cultures and lifestyles of precolonial A Boriginal peoples in Australia.

Web Original

Web Original

  • Lands of Red and Gold is a deeply-researched work of Alternate History fiction in which prehistoric ancestors of Aboriginals gradually discover various forms of agriculture and eventually form numerous developed native civilizations with very complex histories, societies and culture. They even greatly influence the Maori and later the first European colonists, once they come into contact with them.

Western Animation

  • The cartoon Country Mouse And City Mouse: when Emily and Alexander travel to Australia, they speak with an older Aboriginal man. This is notable as he is one of the only adults the mice speak to in the entire series, considering they usually befriend children (the other adults being Santa and Mrs. Claus).
  • Scooby-Doo! and the Legend of the Vampire: Sixth Ranger Daniel and his grandfather (a superstitious tribal elder) are both Aboriginal natives of Australia.
  • Epic (1984) features a native Australian girl and her family in a scene.
  • Courtney (a one shot antagonist) in We Bare Bears is implied to be aboriginal, as he has an olive skin tone and facial features different from the show's black and latino characters. For the most part, he's an archetypical Awesome Aussie who is not particularly in tune in nature beyond exploiting it for his own gains.
  • Back to the Outback features Norine, who is indicated to be Aboriginal by the flag on her backpack and her usage of Aboriginal Australian English. She's the only human in the film who realizes at first glance that they aren’t actually doing anything to try and hurt anyone, shows the main characters kindness, and helps them escape the school bus.

The Official Australian Aboriginal Flag.

Alternative Title(s): Australian Aborigines