Yalinguth: Can you Hear the Land

  • 2022

  • Digital
    Apps and Software

Designed By:

  • Yalinguth Artistic Direction/Project Concept - Bobby Nicholls, Rob Bundle, Uncle Colin Hunter, Aunty Rieo Ellis, Denise McGuinness (Elders Advisory Group); and Pip Chandler and Zoe Dawkins (Storyscape)
  • Sound in Place App Concept - Chris Barker (RMIT) App Design - Max Piantoni, Chris Barker and Kate Cawley (RMIT)
  • Visual Design - Graham BJ Braybon, Larna Massari, Nicole Goodman
  • Sound Design - Rob Bundle, Andy Stewart (The Mill Studios), Pip Chandler (Storyscape)
  • Community Engagement/Story Gathering Design - Elders Advisory Group, Charlie Woolmore, Storyscape, and Kate Cawley (RMIT)

Commissioned By:


Yarnin' Pictures

Melbourne Community Indigenous Film Collective

Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation

Designed In:


Yalinguth is a spatial Augmented Reality experience expressed largely through sound. Walking with headphones on through Fitzroy/Ngar-go, you’ll hear First Nations stories that are embedded in location. These stories are first person accounts of social, political and cultural life, that move fluidly through time and are strongly connected to place.

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  • The Yalinguth app takes up a significant challenge. How can we collaborate with First Nations communities to amplify voices and share important stories? How might we create a meaningful and immersive platform for a rich collection of oral histories imbedded in place? How might a formerly paper-based story trail be re-imagined and represented using digital technologies? How might we develop immersive digital stories that present hidden histories of place and promote a one-to-one relationship between storyteller and listener? How can we engage listeners deeply with First Nations stories and experiences, in order to spark connection, conversation, and healing?

  • The design of Yalinguth responds to a concept that is central to First Nations storytelling, that stories and place belong together. Led by the Elder Advisers, the Yalinguth team used the principles of community engagement and continuous collaboration throughout the design and prototyping process. Content production engaged young people, and transmitted knowledge from Elders to the younger generation through a process that generated intimate and powerful stories. The final ingredient to the success of Yalinguth is the real, physical body of the user, interacting in real-time with the places themselves, connecting them with the living history of First Nations Australia.

  • To address goals of increasing community connection, celebrate Elders who’ve paved the way for Aboriginal rights, to deepen learning, build empathy and to work toward reconciliation, Yalinguth had a community-led design approach. Yalinguth worked with Charcoal Lane to train young Aboriginal story gatherers who interviewed, recorded, and edited stories. Many story gatherers discovered connections to family as they interviewed Elders. Elders contributed stories and First Nations artists collaborated on audio and visual design. Yalinguth shows that good design is not merely about the excellence of the final product. Good design ensures

  • Extensibility – The Yalinguth app is innovative in that it is endlessly extensible, able to be adapted to different locations and different voices and stories. A second story app location is currently being developed. Archive – Yalinguth provides a valuable, ever-expanding and secure archive for the oral histories collected and curated in the development of the project. Sound in Place – Yalinguth uses sound in place, creating a spatialised dome of sound around place and user, locating stories in space and allowing complete immersion in the app's sound environment. Voices and sounds sit together organically. Sound over Screen – Yalinguth minimises engagement with screens, allowing sounds to be triggered by the user’s movement through space. The user can effectively walk with the app in their pocket guided by sound, or be guided by subtle indications of story locations in relation to their position on a very simple map. Deep Community Consultation and Impact – Yalinguth was developed over several years through deep collaboration between all stakeholders. This deep collaboration produced a truly community centred and owned, design process. Yalinguth employed 20 young Aboriginal people and 23 Elders and community members.