Indigenous watercraft




The ANMM collection of Indigenous water craft is a group of six commissioned craft from the 1980s and early 1990s, and related accessories such as paddles and rigs. The diverse collection includes a Bardi raft from north west Australia, a sewn bark canoe from Arnhem land, a sewn bark canoe and dugout canoe from Borroloola NT, a Mornington Island raft and a sheet bark canoe from the Murray River system. They are made from bark or tree trunks and limbs, with vines and other natural fibre bindings.

Indigenous watercraft were a primary means of transport and fishing for Indigenous communities in many Australian and Torres Strait Island coastal regions and on major river systems over parts of inland Australia. Their construction has been practiced for possibly thousands of years and many individual types represent a unique Australian craft. They were a vital part of community life and the tradition of their construction and use was passed on as knowledge between the generations in each community. These craft in the ANMM Collection also represent the continuity of that knowledge in the present day.

Some material included in this collection may be subject to copyright

By appointment only, please contact ANMM

Parts of this collection are digitised and available on the ANMM web site


1980-1990; Canoes; Dugouts; Rafts

Indigenous Australian peoples; Water transport


Coverage Spatial

Murray River; Arnhem Land; Borroloola; King Sound; Gulf of Carpentaria

Coverage Temporal



Related Collections


2012-05-30 23:40