Tyama: A deeper sense of knowing

Accessible Exhibition Text

This guide contains all the text contained within Tyama. As you enter each new space you can find the relevant text in the sections below.

Exhibition Spaces

First People’s Acknowledgement

We respectfully acknowledge the Woi Wurrung (Wurundjeri) and Boonwurrung peoples of the eastern Kulin Nations and their Countries.

The museum is developing relationships with the Traditional Owners and the Custodians of knowledge and stories from throughout Victoria, and respectfully shares them with pride.

Tyama is an honouring of Country and reflects the knowledge of those who have been honouring Country for time immemorial. This includes Wiradjuri Yorta Yorta Elder Aunty Esther Kirby who shared her knowledge of Sky Country – love you, Aunty.

Our respect and appreciation to Keerray Woorroong citizens Yoolongteeyt Dr Vicki Couzens and Yaraan Bundle who created Tyama with us, generously sharing the First Peoples ways of Being, Knowing and Doing that frame this experience, as well as their knowledge and language.

The whale story in Tyama is a part of a much larger narrative, one that belongs to many cultures and communities. Here we focus on the Couzens family clan story, shared by Yaraan Bundle, the keeper of the story.

Sunset - Entrance

In Tyama, you bring the experience to life by exploring interactive worlds that respond to your movements. This self-directed experience will take between 25 and 40 minutes and does not require touch.

Ngatanwarr, welcome. Open your senses and reawaken your heartbeat. You are about to go on a journey to experience Country like our animal teachers. Listen, move and act like them to find Tyama, a deeper way of knowing Country.


Follow scent trails with us in Sky Country
Moths use smell to find mates, following pheromone trails like a map.


Use echolocation like we do in Earth Country
Bats use soundwaves to help them find things in the dark.


Swim with us in Sea Country
Fish use sensory systems to feel movement in the water.

Sky Country

Window 1, Pollination

Tiny hairs on our bodies collect and distribute pollen between flowers. Come on, let’s pollinate the night!

Objects in case: Ngaloowoonkeel, moth

  • Double-headed Hawk Moth (Coequosa triangularis)
  • Hawk Moth (Gnathothlibus erotus)
  • Privet Hawk Moth (Psilogramma menephron)
  • Grapevine Hawk Moth (Hippotion celerio)
  • Mistletoe Moth (Comocrus behri)
  • Magpie Moth (Nyctemera amicus)
  • Pasture Day Moth (Apina callisto)
  • Heliotrope Moth (Utetheisa pulchelloides)
  • Black and White Tiger Moth (Spilosoma glatignyi)

Window 2, Pheromones

Female Ngaloowoonkeel release their love-fragrance when they’re ready to mate. Use your antennae to follow the scent of her pheromones.

Objects in case: Ngaloowoonkeel, moth

  • Urticating Antheilid Moths (Anthea nicothoe)

Window 3, Ultraviolet Flowers

Don’t flowers look amazing in UV? UV helps us navigate and find nectar – let’s go and get some to eat!

Objects in case: Peteeyan, flower

  • Salmon Correa (Correa pulchella)
  • Mottlecah (Eucalyptus macrocarpa)
  • Spur Velleia (Velleia paradoxa)

Window 4, Predators

Hundreds of animals rely on us to survive. Watch out or you might … AghhAHHHHHHHHHhhhhh!

Objects in case:

  • Australian Owlet-nightjar (Aegotheles cristatus)
  • Tawny Frogmouth (Podargus strigoides)
  • Masked Owl (Tyto novaehollandiae)
  • Sugar Glider (Petaurus breviceps)

Earth Country

Our calls bounce off things around us, helping our brains create a picture of our surroundings. Clap in the cave to use your echolocation!

Objects in case: Nganeenganeeyt, bat

  • Large Bentwing Bats (Miniopterus orianae)

Sea Country

Window 1, Safety in numbers

Safety in numbers! We Toortkoort swim in large groups to save energy, find partners, and confuse predators. Visit the big school to find some friends of your own.

Objects in case: Toortkoort, small schooling fish

  • Australian Anchovies (Engraulis australis)

Window 2, Safety in numbers

Crabs can’t school like us fish, but sometimes they pile together for safety – like when they moult their shells.

Objects in case: Kalweeyt, salt-water crab

  • Giant Spider Crabs (Leptomithrax gaimardii)

Window 3, Predators

Predators can attack from all angles, even from above. Stick together, gang!

Objects in Case:

Yeerrarr, salt-water fish

  • Common Stargazer (Kathetostoma leave)

Weertook, gannet

  • Australasian Gannet (Morus serrator)

Window 4, Predators

Some predators have special ways to catch us – this one stuns us with its huge tail!

Object in case: Ngawang, shark

  • Thresher Shark (Alopias vulpinus)

Window 5, Special Skills

Do you feel that? Us Toortkoort have special sensors in our skin that feel changes in the water. Find other creatures to see how they react to us.

Objects in case:

Toortkoort, small schooling fish

  • Australian Anchovy (Engraulis australis)

Yeerrarr, salt-water fish

  • Silver Trevally (Pseudocaranx georgianus)
  • Bluethroat Wrasse (Notolabrus tetricus)
  • Common Stargazer (Kathetostoma laeve)

Window 6, Special Skills

We Toortkoort aren’t the only ones with special talents. All the little fellas in the ocean have cheeky secrets.

Objects in case:

  • “Find us hiding in seagrass” Common Seadragon (Phyllopteryx taeniolatus)
  • “I have up to 200 blue eyes!” Doughboy Scallop (Mimachlamys asperrima)
  • “I have tiny, sticky feet on my arms! They help me prise open tasty scallops.” Eleven-armed Sea Star (Coscinasterias muricata)
  • “The more I puff up, the harder I am to eat!” Globefish (Diodon nicthemerus)

Sunrise - Exit


Model: Nganeenganeeyt’s Ear

Nganeenganeeyt (bat) navigates Country using sound.

Microbats’ eyes are adapted to low light, but hearing an echo of their call allows them to see in the dark. Echolocation allows microbats to hunt moving prey in total darkness while dodging obstacles in their path.

How does echolocation work?

  • Bat sends a blast of sound from their nose or mouth.
  • Sound echoes off a moth. The bat’s brain reads this as the moth in its exact location.
  • Some moths have evolved ridges on their wings to bounce the echoes in all directions so bats can’t tell where the sound is coming from.

Can you see these ridges on the moth in the case below?

Objects in case: Nganeenganeeyt, bat and Ngaloowoonkeel, moth

  • Large-footed Myotis (Myotis macropus)
  • Large Bentwing Bat (Miniopterus orianae)
  • Eastern Horseshoe Bat (Rhinolophus megaphyllus)
  • Helena Gum Moth (Austrocaligula helena)


Model: Male Ngaloowoonkeel Antennae

Ngaloowoonkeel (moth) navigates Country by following scents with their antennae.

Seeing a camouflaged mate in the dark is a challenge! Pheromones allow moths to find each other across great distances without attracting attention from predators. Males have feathered antennae which are essential for smelling a path to females.

How do pheromones work?

  • Females release pheromones from their abdomen when they’re ready to mate.
  • Males catch a whiff of the scent with their feathered antennae and begin to follow it.
  • Males zigzag their way toward a female, following her scent like a map.
  • Moths only follow the scent of their own species.
  • Some moths can pick up the scent of a female 10km away.

Can you see the differences in the male and female antennae in the case below?

Objects in case: Ngaloowoonkeel, moth

  • Giant Wood Moths (Endoxyla cinereus)
  • White-stemmed Gum Moths (Chelepteryx collesi)
  • Fallen Bark Looper Moths (Gastrophora henricaria)
  • Great Rough-head Moths (Hylaeora caustopis)
  • Rose Anthelid Moths (Chenuala heliaspis)
  • Banskia Moths (Psalidostetha banksiae)


Butterflies and flying-foxes are important pollinators who rely mostly on their eyes to see Country.

Unlike most moths, butterflies are active in daylight when they can make the most of the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays ... Butterflies see UV, making it easy to spot brightly coloured flowers and mates. This allows them to feed on nectar-laden flowers and pollinate them in return. What’s your favourite memory of being in nature?

Objects in case: Palampee, butterfly

  • Imperial Hairstreak (Jalmenus evagoras)
  • Macleay’s Swallowtail (Graphium macleayanum)
  • Dingy Swallowtail (Papilio anactus)
  • Meadow Argus (Junonia villida)
  • Varied Sword-grass Brown (Tisiphone abeona)
  • Silky Hairstreak (Pseudalmenus chlorinda)
  • Australian Painted Lady (Vanessa kershawi)
  • Yellow Admiral (Vanessa itea)

Unlike insect-eating microbats, flying-foxes don’t need echolocation chase their food source … With sharp eyes that see in low light, flying-foxes home in on delicious fruit and nectar. They help new plants grow by splattering Country with seed-laden poop along their flight paths.

Object in case:

  • Grey-headed Flying-fox (Pteropus poliocephalus)


Model: Fish neuromasts

Toortkoort (small schooling fish) sense Country using neuromasts.

These specialised sensors allow fish to feel changes in the water around them. Neuromasts help fish avoid predators, find prey, and swim in tightly packed schools even when the water is murky or dark.

How do neuromasts work?

Many fish have a line of neuromasts under their scales. This system is called the lateral line.

Stargazers live buried in the sand, ready to ambush prey swimming above. Their lateral lines are on the top of their body so they can detect movement above them.

Serpent Eels and Scalyfins live above the seafloor. The lateral lines on their sides allow them to sense movement all around them.

Can you see the fishes’ lateral lines in the case?

Objects in case: Yeerrarr, salt-water fish

  • Serpent Eel (Ophisurus serpens)
  • Common Stargazer (Kathetostoma laeve)
  • Scalyfin (Parma victoriae)


Model: Whale Cochlea

Baleen whales like Koontapool (Southern Right Whale) and Woolok (Blue Whale) understand songs of Sea Country through vibrations in their spiral cochlea.

Whales produce long wavelength songs to communicate over thousands of kilometres and possibly detect the coastline of distant lands. Songs of whales, the Oldest Storytellers, hold a sacred resonance for First Peoples, inspiring a tapestry of creation stories like the one you heard today. Like the Oldest Storytellers, we each hold stories of nature. By sharing our passion for nature we strengthen songlines, and take our place as guardians of Country.

How do whales ears work?

Whales have complex ears, similar to ours. The tympanic bulla works much like our ear drum, passing vibrations from the environment to the inner ear where the spiral cochlea lies.

Key for diagram of Koontapool (Southern Right Whale) Sea Country

  • Koontapool winter Sea Country
  • Koontapool summer feeding ground
  • Logans Beach birthing ground
  • Koontapool and First People’s songlines connect

After a summer of feeding in Sub-Antarctic waters, Koontapool begin their annual migration north to sheltered coastal waters.

The Koontapool who return each year to Gunditjmara land are greeted by Keerray Woorroong women. They support the birthing mothers using song and dance.

When the calves are strong enough, Koontapool follow ancestral pathways, energising ancient songlines that extend throughout the Southern Hemisphere.

When the water warms they head south, and the cycle begins again.

Object in case:

  • Woolok, Blue Whale (Balaenoptera musculus) Tympanic bulla

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