Connecting with Aboriginal culture

When I finished high school in Sydney I decided to spend my summer vacation in central Australia helping to build houses in two communities there and if not for the urging of my father I might still be there.

I was captivated by the land and the people and felt so comfortable up there and actually spoke to my father about not coming back and forgoing the chance of university and spending my life on the land. Luckily he talked me into the taking up my place and from there; I discovered my love of performing.

During the filming of Australia in 2009, I was lucky enough to spend months in the Kimberley region with my family and it had a profound impact on us all. Particularly with my son Oscar. We were able to camp out for days, Oscar attended a local school during the day while I was filming and then at night we would sit around the camp fire with the local Indigenous families from the region who were also working on the film. It is an experience that Oscar and I will cherish and which taught us so much about their culture and connection to the land.

By Hollywood star and proud Australian, Hugh Jackman.

Paul House with gum leaves and smoke
Paul Girrawah House

Paul Girrawah House has multiple First Nation ancestries from the South-East Canberra region, including the Ngambri-Ngurmal (Walgalu), Pajong (Gundungurra), Wallabollooa (Ngunnawal) and Erambie/Brungle (Wiradyuri) family groups.

Paul acknowledges his diverse First Nation history, he particularly identifies as a descendant of Onyong aka Jindoomang from Weereewaa (Lake George) and Henry ‘Black Harry’ Williams from Namadgi who were both multilingual, essentially Walgalu-Ngunnawal-Wiradjuri speaking warriors and Ngunnawal–Wallaballooa man William Lane aka ‘Billy the Bull’ - Murrjinille.

Paul was born at the old Canberra hospital in the centre of his ancestral country and strongly acknowledges his First Nation matriarch ancestors, in particular his mother Dr Aunty Matilda House-Williams and grandmother, Ms Pearl Simpson-Wedge.

Paul completed a Bachelor of Community Management from Macquarie University, and Graduate Certificate in Wiradjuri Language, Culture and Heritage and Management from CSU.

Paul provided the Welcome to Country for the 47th Opening of Federal Parliament in 2022. Paul is Board Director, Ngambri Local Aboriginal Land Council, Member Indigenous Reference Group, National Museum of Australia and Australian Government Voice Referendum Engagement Group.  

Paul works on country with the ANU, First Nations Portfolio as a Senior Community Engagement Officer

Acknowledgement of Country

Reconciliation Australia acknowledges Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing  connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures; and to Elders past and present. 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should be aware that this website contains images or names of people who have passed away.

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