Playground — Listening to Stories from Country and from Inside the Heart

Compiled by Nadia Wheatley,

illustrated by Ken Searle 

Indigenous consultant Dr Jackie Huggins AM, of the Bidjara and Birri-Gubba Juru people of Queensland.

Allen & Unwin, 2011

  This authoritative and groundbreaking work offers a glimpse into the experiences of childhood lived by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from 1900 to the present day.

With historical and contemporary photographs, artwork by leading Indigenous artists, and new colour illustrations throughout, this compilation of Indigenous stories gives a fascinating insight into Aboriginal childhood, both traditional and contemporary.

The eighty Elders – both past and present – who have contributed their words or artwork to this book include prominent community leaders, educators and artists. Twenty secondary school students also share their experience of growing up today. Alongside reminiscences of getting bush tucker, going fishing and taking part in ceremony, there are descriptions of playing games, building cubbies and having fun. The warmth of home, the love of family and the strength of community shine through every story.

The first book of its kind, this is a wonderful resource for the classroom, library and home.

Suitable for upper primary and secondary, and adults.


Selected Reviews

In sharing with us the insights of the many remarkable people featured in Playground, Wheatley makes a significant contribution to our knowledge and understanding of the Aboriginal life experience
— Stephanie Owen Reeder, Canberra Times
[Playground’s] positive message celebrates the uniqueness of a traditional Aboriginal upbringing in a manner that makes a non-Indigenous reader feel welcome. The book has emerged as a partnership between people from different backgrounds, combining and working together, which makes it a concrete example of the process of reconciliation.
— Peter Christianson, Viewpoint
Playground reflects a commitment to Reconciliation, social justice, inclusive education and conservation, and will be an invaluable addition to all teachers’ personal libraries.
— Robyn Ewing, Magpies


  • Winner, Australian Awards for Excellence in Educational Publishing (Primary Student Reference) 2012
  • CBCA Eve Pownall Award Shortlist 2012
  • NSW Premier’s History Awards Shortlist 2012