Not Really Aboriginal


When I tell people that I’m Aboriginal, so many of them respond by saying, ‘But not really Aboriginal’.

What is Aboriginal? According to most white experts and the media, it’s a black person who lives in a remote community, has social issues and claims benefits that are way above what they deserve. So being Aboriginal but white, fairly socially adjusted and living in an urban area, where do I fit in?

I’ve always been told that I was Aboriginal. I never questioned it because of the colour of my skin or where I lived. My Nan, part of the Stolen Generation, was staunchly proud and strong. She made me feel the same way. My land takes in Ballarat, Geelong and Werribee and extends west past Cressy to Derrinallum. I’m from Victoria and I’ve always known this. All the descendants of traditional Victorian Aboriginal people are now of mixed heritage. I’m not black. I’m not from a remote community. Does that mean I’m not really Aboriginal?

Or do Aboriginal people come in all shapes, sizes and colours and live in all areas of Australia, remote and urban?

The series of portraits in Not Really Aboriginal depict white Aboriginal Australia in their everyday urban environments. Through hand-colouring of the skin of each subject the viewer is able to associate the subject with the Aboriginal heritage they are so proud of. Yet, alongside the portrait, another image of the sitter reinforces their connection to white culture, thus inviting the viewer to re-evaluate his perceptions of Indigenous Australia.


Bindi Cole

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[in alphabetical order]

Australia Council
City of Melb
City of Yarra