Lustre: Pearling & Australia Learning Resources

Full moon rising over the entrance to Daymango (The Graveyard), Strickland Bay,

Full moon rising over the entrance to Daymango (The Graveyard), Strickland Bay, King Sound — a traditional area for collecting pearlshell and a place where many hard-hat divers lost their lives.
Image copyright WA Museum

The use of the pearlshell in Australia dates back over 20,000 years. It is a story full of wonder, intrigue, and the ill-effects of greed.

Lustre: Pearling & Australia explores the gritty human story of pearling, weaving together intersecting trends of Aboriginal, Asian, and European histories to reveal insights into one of our oldest industries.

Discover the stories behind Northern Australia's unique and ancient pearling tradition. Immerse yourself in the beauty of the shell itself, its evolution and habitat, and the people who have collected and harvested these treasures for time immemorial.

This exhibition was curated in 2015 as a dynamic partnership between the WA Museum and Nyamba Buru Yawuru–the native title holders of Broome. After an acclaimed tour of the eastern states, Lustre returns to Western Australia for its premiere regional tour.

Education Group Bookings

We welcome school groups to visit Lustre: Pearling & Australia but bookings are essential.

Please contact your local museum for further information.

Museum of the Goldfields
Dates: Saturday 25 May 2019 - 1 September 2019
Booking number: (08) 9021 8533

Museum of the Great Southern
Dates: Saturday 21 September - 2 February 2020
Booking number: (08) 9841 4844

Museum of Geraldton
Dates: 21 February 2020 - 21 June 2020
Booking Number: (08) 9431 8393

Education Resource

This education resource supports the Lustre: Pearling & Australia exhibition, and includes suggestions for during and post-excursion activities, templates for student use, plus a selection of source analysis questions which may be completed as a standalone activity.

The resource is designed to support the Australian Curriculum, particularly for History in years 5 and 6. However, the exhibition themes and content, as well as some of the activity suggestions contained in this resource, lend themselves to other learning areas and year levels. A detailed list of curriculum links is provided at the end of this document.

Download the Resource

Online Text Panels

Showcases in the Lustre exhibition in WA Museum Maritime

Lustre Exhibition
Image copyright WA Museum 

This online feature includes text and images from exhibition panels used in the Lustre: Pearling & Australia exhibition. The panels are based on the version of the exhibition that was on show at Western Australian Maritime Museum in 2015.

The online text panels are a valuable resource for students to find out more about the the world of pearling in Austalia's north.

Explore the online text panels

Audio Guide

While visiting the Lustre: Pearling & Australia exhibition students can use their own  mobile device and the Lustre online audio guide to enjoy a guided walkthrough of the exhibition.
To access the audio guide simply follow the button below and select the corresponding number while in the exhibition. 

Audio Guide


From objects of ancient trade to beautiful pearl jewellery, Lustre traces the gritty human story of pearling across the north of Australia. This visually stunning book weaves together strands of Aboriginal, Asian and European histories, revealing the stories of the people who, for generations, have collected and harvested these treasures from Saltwater Country.

This publication is available from the Museum Shop or it can be purchased online.

Purchase the book online