Civic Cinema: Biraban and Threlkeld - Finding the Third Space

Sunday 3 July 2022, 2pm
8 days from now

Presented by the City of Newcastle & Civic Theatre as part of NAIDOC week

A FREE NAIDOC week film presentation. This is the 17th Film in the Stories of Our Town Project and the follow up to Fortress Newcastle.

Be the first to see the film, before it's release and enjoy a post show Q&A (Hosted by Carol Duncan) with some of the stars of the film.


Almost 200 years ago, in Australia’s most brutal colonial outpost, two men became this nation’s first civil rights activists.

Biraban, a bilingual Aboriginal man and leader of Newcastle/Lake Macquarie’s first nations peoples, and the Reverend Lancelot Threlkeld, a British missionary brought out to convert these people to the word of God; became mates.

Over a twenty-year period, these two men captured songs, poems, ceremonies and dreaming stories, and represented Aboriginal people in court; whose testimony could not be accepted because they could not swear an oath on the Bible.

Together, they undertook the first systematic study of an Aboriginal language anywhere in the country and created the first ever translation of the Bible into an Aboriginal language. It’s also the first time an Aboriginal language was printed. Their work was so thorough that it is still being used to this day to reconstruct language.

Threlkeld also agitated the powers-at-be asking for Aboriginal land rights and demanded protection for First Nations People under British law. He even referred to Europeans as ‘invaders’, as early as 1828.

Threlkeld set up the first mission for Aboriginal people in Australia. Instead of enslaving them, as was the norm at the time, he paid them wages for their work.  He also provided education and allocated plots of land so they could farm and provide for themselves, as their own land had been taken away.

Told for the first time, this film took two years to make. It uses decades of research and is told using both First Nation and European historians, academic and linguists

If these two men could find the Third Space between the Aboriginal and European worlds two hundred years ago, surely this should be a shining example for what could be achieved today.

Tickets are free, please click the Reserve a Seat button to book.
Running time 53 mins + Q&A

Post show Q&A
Hosted by Carol Duncan (Founder of Lost Newcastle) with Glen Dormand – film maker & special guests.

NAIDOC Week 2022


  • Sunday 03 July 2022 2:00 PM

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  • Civic Theatre Ticket Office
  • 4929 1977


Civic Theatre
375 Hunter Street