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The return of Mungo Man


On November 17th, 2017 something very special will take place when Mungo Man returns home to his original burial site.

The return home of Mungo Man to the shores of Lake Mungo marks a special day in Australian history. After 43 years in custody in Canberra he returns to his country and to his people.

In 1974 Mungo Man was discovered. He had been buried with extraordinary ritual. Materials of red ochre had anointed his body. Simultaneously, smoke from a nearby fireplace had swept through grieving mourners. Equivalent to a requiem in any cathedral today, this ritual was enacted on the cathedral shores of Lake Mungo 40,000 years ago.

Geologist Jim Bowler discovered the bones, known as Mungo Man and Mungo Lady, and the remains now sit in Canberra's National Museum of Australia. Removal of the bones in 1974 without permission has long caused great pain to local indigenous people.

The Australian National University acted as custodians of Mungo Man and Mungo Lady for four decades but last year officially handed back the remains and issued an apology to the traditional owners.In recognition of traditional owners’ wishes, Mungo Man is returning home to Lake Mungo for this reburial process which will be a defining moment in the nation’s history.

Mungo Man’s Return unites land and culture in defining ‘what it means to be Australian’. Where the concepts of land help define the concepts of people, we join in national celebration.