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Northern Health’s Indigenous Message Stick

by: NJM Group Marketing on



Northern Health hospital recently payed tribute to the indigenous land their hospital was built on by commissioning Australian Bollards to design and install a 21st century message stick. It will play a recording of a smoke ceremony when the stick is activated by pushing its button.

Message sticks have been used to communicate between different Aboriginal tribes, languages and dialects throughout parts of Australia for tens of thousands of years. They are still used today in some parts of Australia to deliver important news and communication over Australia’s vast landscape. Translators were required to articulate requests, warnings, meetings and invitations to corroborees, disputes, trade, negotiations, fights, marriage arrangements and news of a family member passing.



Crafted between 10 and 30cms for easy transportation, they were carved or painted with specific designs and markings to show they were genuine and to grant the messenger immunity when travelling through enemy or unknown territories. Messengers would announce themselves with smoke signals and would then be accompanied to an elder, who would ensure the message is authentic. It is also important we understand that Aboriginal culture changed greatly between different areas and regions and that we cannot consider the entire culture a single entity. For instance, there were around 200 languages and 600 dialects, and some groups didn’t use message sticks at all.




We have specifically designed this message stick to assist Northern Health in paying homage to the custodians of our land and fully support our partners in their endeavours to provide a cultural experience to staff and visitors to the hospital.

Australian Bollards is happy to help businesses and councils with educational and cultural installations and security solutions. For more information on how we can help you with your next project, please visit our website or call us on +613 9459 3488 today.









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