Black Man's Houses


More than a hundred years after the Tasmanian Aboriginal people were declared extinct, their descendants set out to reclaim the lost graves of their ancestors on Flinders Island in Bass Strait.

The neglected burial site at Wybalenna (or 'Black Man's Houses') which, in the 1830s was Australia's first segregated reserve, is now a battleground dividing a community.

The Aboriginal community fought for 5 years to have the site fenced off against the roaming cattle.

Although set on a tiny island, Black Man's Houses has major relevance in a post-colonial world which has underestimated the ability of Aboriginal cultures to evolve, to adapt and to incorporate their conquerors.

"In a period when national and racial identity problems are in the forefront of world developments, this film has much to tell us about the survival of cultural identity in the face of generations of adversity." - Prof. Henry Reynolds, historian & author.

This film is an open-hearted and deeply moving story of what makes us black. — Greg Lehman, Riawunna Centre for Aboriginal Education, Tasmania


Release dates
1992 - Australia
Winner Best Australian Film - Melbourne Film Festival.
G - general
Ronin Films
Elizabeth Drake

Black Man's Houses is used as an educational item in Tasmania.

Lots of Aboriginal people still like to meet at Wybalenna, despite it being a site where white settlers attempted genocide.

A man was called "Resurrection Bob" because he would dig up Aboriginal graves to steal their bones.

On 15 July 1991 Aboriginal people took repossession of Wybalenna.

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Harvard citation

Korff, J 2018, Black Man's Houses, <>, retrieved 9 July 2020

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