Embracing Indigenous knowledge and science in 2023

Arial view of headland and water Gamay

Indigenous knowledge is embedded strongly in the National Science Week program this year, with many opportunities across the state to hear directly from Indigenous researchers and scientists about their research in Aboriginal cultural fire management, Indigenous astronomy, identification of plants and medicines on Country, and more.

Highlights of the 2023 program

Indigenous Science Experience at Redfern

The Indigenous Science Experience at Redfern Community Centre is a long-running celebration of Indigenous and Western science and technology open to the whole community. This year activities will include yarning with Elders on bush foods and medicines, learning about customarily used seaweeds for environmental sustainability, Indigenous astronomy, cultural performances connecting to the science of sound and movement science, making Aboriginal tools, a range of maths, physics and chemistry activities, and much more.  

The whole Community Centre is alive all day with activities for young and old, and they encourage you to simply drop in, join in an activity, ask questions and learn.

Saturday 19 August, Indigenous Science Experience at Redfern

Watch a short video of highlights from 2022.

The program also includes online events that are free and open to everyone.

Using Ancient Knowledge for Environmental Sustainability, Healthcare and Cultural
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of Australia have built an intimate understanding of both the land and the sea and their resources over more than 60,000 years. In this webinar, you will hear from the fully Indigenous owned organisations Native Secrets and South Coast Seaweed and how they are working to revitalise customary knowledge on natural resources.
Monday 14 August. Using Ancient Knowledge

Microscopy and Aboriginal Art: We are Country and we are Culture
A webinar to learn from Aboriginal artist Graham Toomey and from science communicator Jenny Whiting on how microscopy can add a creative new dimension for Aboriginal artists in connecting to Country, and how it forms the basis of an inspiring exhibition that highlights that connection.
Tuesday 15 August. Microscopy and Aboriginal Art

Indigenous Knowledge and Marine Science in Gamay

The Sydney Institute of Marine Science (SIMS) and the Gamay Rangers will host an evening of knowledge exchange involving First Nations people, scientists, and community members from the Gamay (Botany Bay) area in Sydney. Find out about the important collaborative work being done to enhance ecosystem health and support the sustainable management of urban coastal waterways.
Wednesday 16 August. Indigenous Knowledge and Marine Science in Gamay


In Central West NSW, the CORRIDOR project + Orange Cowra Cabonne Science Hub proudly presents Wyangala, a First Nation culturally led science program on a beautiful property on the Galari (Lachlan) River. With a full day and night of workshops, field trips, presentations, and hands-on learning experiences participants can learn about culturally led traditional scientific knowledge and methodologies, including cultural burning, riparian health, weaving, medicinal plants and First Nation sky stories, facilitated by First Nation knowledge holders. Saturday 12 August, Wyangala

Sydney Science Festival

Sydney Science Festival hosted by the Powerhouse Museum over National Science Week is a fabulous program of science focused events. The theme this year – Trace – includes explorations of Indigenous knowledge and how it interacts with our environment. These are just some of their events.

The 100 Climate Conversations series has included some fascinating conversations with leaders in Indigenous science. For Sydney Science Festival join Chief Executive of the North Australian Indigenous Land and Sea Management Alliance (NAILSMA) Ricky Archer on Indigenous knowledge and expertise in sustainability and technology.
Friday 11 August, 100 Climate Conversations

A keynote for the Festival is acclaimed ocean scientist Micronesian Dr Nicole Yamase presenting for the first time in Australia. She will share her childhood experiences in Micronesia, her lifelong dedication to ocean conservation, and how she inspires Indigenous youth across the globe to pursue STEM fields.
Saturday 12 August, Pacific Odyssey

Gamilaraay astrophysicist Karlie Noon and space archaeologist Dr Alice Gorman discuss new frontiers of science in space, and the preservation of the connection between astronomy and cultural heritage.
Monday 14 August, Country and Sky

Karlie Noon also joins Powerhouse curator Sarah Reeves in conversation with ABC meteorologist Nate Byrne to discuss climate change and how it continues to affect the weather we experience.
Wednesday 16 August, Sydney Observatory Late: Sky Connections

As part of wider project exploring Myrtle Rust, a plant pathogen causing much environmental havoc in Australian native plants, molecular biologist Mark Temple has programmed a series of events for the Powerhouse Up Late during National Science Week.  A video installation features the work of 11 Aboriginal artists from the Boomalli Aboriginal Artists Co-operative who responded to a call to protect Country from the devastating effects of Myrtle Rust. The artists also join Mark in a panel moderated by Clarence Slockee from Gardening Australia on the challenges presented by Myrtle Rust.
Thursday 17 August,  Invasion and Extinction


For the first time during National Science Week, TIPIAC, a First Nations education business based in northwest NSW,  presents a series of live online afternoon seminars on First Nations Knowledge designed for teachers, which are all also open to all. Registration is essential to access the online event.

Understanding the Importance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Dreaming Narratives and Links to Astronomy.

Can Artificial Intelligence or Blockchain Help Preserve First Nations Knowledges?

Understanding Scientific Knowledge and Sustainable Practices for Gathering Bush Tucker and Medicines

How Can First Nations Innovation and Invention Knowledge Contribute to the Sustainability of Future Industries?

The Physics and Chemistry of First Nations Innovations and Inventions

Cultural Knowledge River Walk in Wagga Wagga

Wagga Wagga Art Gallery presents the Swan Song program for National Science Week on the loss of biodiversity and in particular the local Black Swan. It includes a opportunity to join Wiradjuri Elder Uncle James Ingram for a cultural knowledge River Walk along the Murrumbidgee River.
Sunday 13 August More information and bookings

Indigenous Science, Song-lines and Stars

A special evening in the University of Wollongong  Science Space includes a section of The Earth Above planetarium show video developed by the ARC Centre of Excellence of Australian Biodiversity and Heritage (CABAH) that combines Indigenous knowledges and sciences to help future-proof Australia’s biodiversity and ancient heritage; a night sky planetarium show with Indigenous astronomy presentation; and a presentation by Dr Robert Fuller from the Australian Indigenous Astronomy group on Aboriginal astronomy and song-line connections.
Tuesday 15 August. More information and bookings.

Many other 2023 National Science Week events have incorporated Indigenous knowledge into their broader program, and we encourage you to find out more about what is available to you locally.

Saturday 12 August
Science of Nature, Community Open Day at Sydney City Farm

Sunday 13 August
Science in the Scrub at Western Sydney Parklands

Thursday 17 August
Dark Science, New Moon, at the Lismore Quad

Saturday 19 August  
Sydney Science Festival Family Science Day, Parramatta

Saturday 19 August
Sydney Science Trail Community Day at the Australian Museum

Sunday 20 August
Sydney Science Trail at Australian Botanic Garden, Mt Annan

Sunday 20 August
Science in the Swamp, Centennial Park

Other 2023 events will be added to this page as their programs are confirmed. If you are hosting a National Science Week activity that includes Indigenous knowledges and science, please let Inspiring NSW know with an email to inspiringnsw@sydney.edu.au

Feature image: Gamay (Botany Bay) from Indigenous Knowledge and Marine Science in Gamay event.