About the Project

This Community Engagement project at the University of Tasmania, assisted by Prof. Len Collard of the University of Western Australia, endeavours to compile a history of the association between the palawa (Tasmanian Aboriginal) people and the University of Tasmania.

The aim of this Community Engagement project was to research and prepare a palawa interpretation of both the traditional and contemporary aspects not only of the University and its campuses but also the lands occupied by the University, with a focus on Sandy Bay and Burnie.

This has involved collecting historical data relating to:
  • palawa place names in and around the areas occupied by the University of Tasmania;
  • palawa land use (including any information on land forms and areas of economic and cultural importance) in the areas;
  • palawa knowledge of local flora, fauna, mineral and other natural resources;
  • incidents of contact between palawa and non-Aboriginal people until the 1850s, including how the palawa responded to the invasion of their lands; and
  • palawa individuals associated with the sites.
We have called this part of the project The Linking of Two Bays to show the ongoing connection between Emu Bay in Burnie and Sandy Bay in Hobart. This association existed well before Europeans arrived and continues today through family links, cultural events, the ongoing movement of goods, and by the educational pathways palawa people follow.

There are a number of reasons for undertaking this project. A palawa history of the UTAS campuses and their surrounds is of interest for its own sake and adds significant depth to the understanding of these places. Such history reinforces palawa connection with these places and the institution located on them. This will enhance the relevance of the University to palawa staff and students. It should also create a more comfortable environment for palawa people since history shows that it was first and foremost a palawa place.

Aboriginal people will not be the only beneficiaries of the project, as greater familiarity with the palawa history of the land on which the University it is located, will help promote the reality that at UTAS we are all valued participants in a diverse community no matter what our backgrounds are.