2013 Mobile Awards

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Aboriginal Sydney: a guide to important places of the past and present [DRAFT]





Project Overview

Discover the history & culture of Aboriginal Sydney with these self-guided, audio-supported tours, up-to-date GPS maps with easy to follow directions. You can search by region, theme or nearest to you, allowing you to plan visits by interest, available time, or distance. Aboriginal actor, writer and director, Billy McPherson, provides a context-rich narration to the sites.


Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies


Rachel Ippoliti, Project Manager
Karen Deighton-Smith, Editor and Project Officer
Appiphany Pty Ltd, App developer
Kameygal Recording Studio; audio
Bill McPherson; narrator

Project Brief

Explore Sydney's rich Aboriginal history and culture. Whether it be rockart, bush tucker or Indigenous contemporary performance, or whether you have an hour or a full day to spare, the Aboriginal Sydney app provides a glimpse of the vitality, diversity and complexity of Sydney’s Aboriginal life and historical and contemporary culture.

Audio accompanies most of the sites. Spoken by Billy McPherson, Aboriginal actor, writer/director, users will be taken on a journey where the past is shown in the present. You might be sitting at Circular Quay outside the Museum of Contemporary Art looking across to the Sydney Opera House. Here you will hear about Bennelong, a Wangal man born in the 1700s, who developed a relationship with Governor Phillip. Phillip built Bennelong a hut on what became known as Bennelong's point; the site of the current Sydney Opera House. You will hear about the Aboriginal camps that once were on the site of the Museum of Contemporary Art; a place where you're now sitting.

The Aboriginal Sydney app lets you:
• plan your tours to suit your available time;
• choose your site by locality, interest or nearest to you;
• use up-to-date GPS maps with easy to follow directions;
• be confident about culturally appropriate information;
• learn about the social history of the region;
• find general information about facilities, opening hours, cost, public transport and links to websites of the sites;
• view images of the site.

Project Need

Users can be confident that the material is culturally appropriate and grounded in research. The app complements the popular book Aboriginal Sydney that was published by Aboriginal Studies Press and revised in 2010. Aboriginal Studies Press is the publishing arm of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies; the world's leading research, collecting and publishing institution in the field of Australian Indigenous studies.

Aboriginal involvement was extremely important. Extensive community consultation took place when putting together the original text for the book from which the app derives. Most of the images were taken by an Aboriginal photographer and we worked with Gadigal Information Services/Kameygal Recording Studios, and Aboriginal actor, writer and director, Billy McPherson, to put the audio together.

Most importantly, the first-person narration allows for a context-rich, and immersive experience for the user. Instructional in parts, e.g. 'on your left you will see..', users get a full experience of the site.

The project team was spread across 4 states/territories: the app developer in Melbourne, Aboriginal Studies Press based in Canberra, the project officer based in Queensland and Kameygal Recording Studios based in Sydney. A number of builds were tested remotely and on-site in Sydney. Whilst there were some challenges, it shows that geography isn't a barrier in the digital world; even when creating a travel app about a specific place from where noone from the project team was based!

User Experience

The app is simple in the sense that it gets out of the way of the user's experience; i.e. it doesn't have a lot of bells and whistles to distract. There's a brief textual description of the site with info about facilities, time to allow etc, GPS enabled mapping with transport information, and a photo gallery all of which are useful for getting to the site and knowing what to look for. However once at the site, the user can then play the audio and be taken on a journey. The narrative, beautifully captured by Billy McPherson, allows users to immerse themselves in the site.

The audio was always going to be an important part of the app for a couple of reasons. We didn't want a lot of text - text is hard to read on screens particularly when you're outdoors - and we wanted to give the user an immersive experience. The first person narrative gives the sense that you have your own personal guide.

Project Marketing

We have engaged a contractor who has developed a marketing strategy for the app. The strategy includes establishing connections to help promote the app with organisations/sites featured, and tourism organisations. Exploring options (and cost) for targeted advertising, e.g. google ads, signage on ferries, bus/railway stations. We're also approaching Indigenous festivals.

The first product we've produced to market the app is a free postcard with a custom designed QR code (with tracking) for distribution to bars, cafes and cultural institutions. The idea behind the QR code on a free postcard is to get it to the targeted audience (tourists who visit cafes, cultural institutions etc,) make it visually engaging, and utilise technology that smart phone users are familiar with. The QR code takes them directly to the Apple iOS app on iTunes where they can download and use immediately.

We are a trade book publisher with well established marketing channels: enewsletter, member flyers, flyers at events, website, social media and Indigenous networks. We will be using those channels in a targeted way to promote the app.


This category relates to travel guide applications.
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