Walking Country

Students walk and respond to country, deeply considering what connection to country means, how they find their place on country and how they acknowledge the country of others. This exercise was directed by Billibellary’s Walk map, app and sites of significance around the University of Melbourne Campus.


This activity was conducted in studioFive at MGSE as part of our Master of Teaching course.


  • Indigenous Australian countries and nations
  • The significance of connection to country
  • Multiplicities of stories and histories
  • Past, present and future
  • Environmental issues

Skills and Techniques

  • Plein-air painting
  • Painting as a response
  • Timed practice


  • Student choice of painting media
  • Encourage exploration of paper stock, paint types and brush styles and sizes
  • Consider limiting the palette to encourage mixing


Students are introduced to a range of paints, equipment and stock to use and asked to make a selection to work with. Demonstrations of some of the available options or discussions around the types of materials available may be required to help students decide.

Use Billibellary’s Walk (if on the University of Melbourne Campus) to direct the class about the country and inform their understanding of the land that they are practicing on. Stop at each site and allow time for students to situate themselves in the space and to read information about the location. Students are given 10 minutes to respond to the site in a painting. Allow students to move freely about the space as required by try to limit talking and the amount of interruption that they cause to others.

After 10 minutes move on to the next location on the map and repeat the exercise. Students can choose which sites they respond to, allowing them to simply sit and be with a space without responding if required.

Art Connections

If run well, this activity can form a part of students’ understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander connections to country and how this might be represented by Indigenous artists, both past and present. It reinforces our responsibility to be mindful of the land we occupy and to think deeply about the significance and histories it holds for a variety of people.

VCD Connections

This activity positions students to consider Aboriginal perspectives on sites and histories that have unfolded upon them. It can be used to introduce students to the importance of considering and acknowledging these perspectives, particularly when developing communication and environmental designs.

Related Artists

Desert Lines

Next Steps

Following lessons can extend these concepts by:

  • These paintings were used as a starting point in Mapping Country.
  • Students can present and perform a display of their paintings by constructing exhibition spaces for their works.
  • Collaborative collections of paintings from each site can be created. Students collect all work generated from a site and curate a display of the works from that site.
  • Digital tools can be used to scan and place the drawings on maps of the locations that the students walked across.
  • WorldPainter can be used to build land in Minecraft based on the students paintings. Students can then visit and explore each other’s locations.