Bringing Koorie stories to life at St Georges Road Primary School

Earlier this year, St Georges Road Primary School's Year 5 students interpreted the Aboriginal story 'How the Murray River was Made' through a tiled three-panelled mural.

St Georges Road Primary School Mural

The mural is mounted in the school's entrance as a welcoming symbol and as an acknowledgement to the people, traditional history, and Country the school is established on.

Almost 20 per cent of students who attend St Georges Road Primary School in Shepparton come from a Koorie background.

Over the last five years, St Georges Road Primary School has worked in partnership with the Sharing Stories Foundation and local Koorie elders to capture the story of Country. The aim of this work is to build pride, strengthen leadership, and pass stories onto younger generations.

School principal Kerrianne Souter says inclusion and cultural understanding is a vital part of the school's education programs.

'This project evolved over time, commencing with students taking an excursion onto Country and listening to elders retell the traditional story,' Kerrianne explains.

The project involved capturing images digitally and interpreting the story through artwork to create an iBook. Now it's being developed into the curriculum using technology and incorporating local language.

'The story has also been retold to the school community through music and dance performances by our Koorie students, and has proudly become part of our school's story.'

Telling a local story

'How the Murray River was Made' tells the story of how Gunyuk, a wise old woman travelled to the top of the mountains with her dog to speak to the creator of all countries, Biami. She asked for the dry lands to become rich with life and vegetation. Biami sent Gunyuk back down the mountains with her digging stick to mark the way, and sent Dunatpan the Rainbow Serpent to follow the tracks.

As Dunatpan travelled, he made the land wider and deeper. Colours flew off the serpent and spread across the land. 

Gunyuk travelled with a message stick, which was her passport, through the lands of other clans. When she arrived back in the lowlands there was still no water in sight, so she asked for all the tribes to sing and dance to the sky.

Biami responded in the voice of thunder; lightning split the sky and the rain drenched the thirsty ground, rushing through the crevices made by Dunatpan. Seeds sprouted and trees grew.

Kerrianne says the response to the murals has been extremely positive. 'The murals have been admired by all members of our school community, and our Koorie children and families feel honoured to have this traditional story showcased proudly in the entrance to our school.'

Our Marrung strategy aims to empower Koorie students and celebrate Aboriginal culture in education. Find out more at Marrung strategy.