The area now known as Melbourne has undergone
significant changes over time. Ten million years ago, there was tremendous volcanic activity to the west of Melbourne, and
the resulting lava flows still influence Melbourne today. The volcanic basalt from these lava flows – known in Melbourne
as bluestone – still forms the foundation of many of our streets and buildings.
This blue-grey stone helps give Melbourne its atmosphere of sombre formality.
Somewhere between 30,000 and 50,000 years ago
the first humans arrived in the area. These Aboriginal families and tribes gradually spread over the area now known as Victoria.
As usual, the arrival of humans led to the extinction of a number of plant and animal species and assisted others to thrive.
Over time, the Aboriginal inhabitants settled into a sustainable relationship with the environment even though techniques
like fire farming had changed parts of it for ever.
the time of first white contact in the early 1800s, a complex culture and tribal system (complete with tribal conflicts) had
developed amongst the aboriginal peoples of the area. The numbers were small by today's standards – estimated at about
15,000 in Victoria at the time of first European contact. However, so completely did the arrival of white settlers devastate
the aboriginal community that 200 years of white settlement has almost completely wiped away the knowledge of up to 40,000
years of aboriginal culture.
We know that the tribes and families around the Melbourne area had a semi-nomadic
lifestyle, while further down the coast there were settled communities who lived in stone houses.
The area around Port Phillip was the
home of the Kulin nation, an alliance of several language groups of Indigenous Australians, whose ancestors had lived in the
area for approximately 30,000 years.
The Kulin lived by fishing, hunting and gathering, and made a good living from
the rich food sources of Port Phillip and the surrounding grasslands.
With the arrival of Europeans in the area, they
were hard hit by introduced diseases, and their decline was hastened by mistreatment, alcohol and venereal disease. They had
largely disappeared by the 1870s, and most of the Aboriginal people who live in Melbourne today are descended from immigrants
from other parts of Victoria.
Today there only a few signs of the Aboriginal past in the Melbourne area. They
include a tree in the FItzroy Gardens near the Melbourne Cricket Ground from which bark was cut to make a canoe, and some
middens (accumulations of seashells at feasting areas) around the shores of Port Phillip, and artefacts along the Gardiner's
Creek area in Burwood.
The Kulin Nation of central Victoria
The Kulin Nation of central Victoria is composed
of five tribes that share adjoining territories: the Woiworung, Boonwurrung, Wathaurung, Taungurong and Djaja Wurrung. Each
tribe is broken down into smaller units called clans.
The Wurundjeri is
part of the Woiwurung who occupied the area defined by the Yarra River and its tributaries. Six clans made up the Bunerong
tribe and they occupied the area that is today the southern suburbs of Melbourne south of Mordiallic Creek and a small coastal
strip around the top of Port Phillip Bay. Groups extend to Victoria’s Western district.
In Victoria and in other parts of Australia, indigenous land use agreements are increasingly being
used to negotiate agreements for use of Indigenous lands by other parties. Agreements between local Aboriginal people and
others seeking to use the land generally allow for heritage protection and management, employment opportunities and financial
benefits for community development.
Today Aboriginal communities use the land for a variety of cultural, social
and economic activities.
The area around Kooyongkoot Creek,
later known as Gardiner's Creek, was part of the Wurundjeri-Baluk region that extended along the Yarra River.
The banks along Kooyongkoot Creek were the source of vegetation used for food,
tools and first-aid amongst other creative applications. Land management skills, and adaptation to their environment meant
that people were able to sustain their lifestyle for many thousands of years with minimal impact to the region compared to
the impact felt since European settlement.
was a Aboriginal Government reserve set up in 1863 under the current protectionist policies to provide land for Aboriginal
people who had been dispossessed by the arrival of Europeans to the state of Victolria 30 years prior.
The reserve was formally closed in 1924, with most residents removed to Lake Tyers Mission.
Five older people refused to move and continued living there until they died. James Wandin was the last
person born at Coranderrk Station, in 1933, in the home of his grandmother, Jemima Wandin.
Indigenous Presence in the Whitehorse District
For many thousands of years, the land now covered by the City of Whitehorse was occupied by the Wurundjeri-william
Clan. a name which means "people of the white gum tree".
The City of Whitehorse contains eight known archeological sites. There
is artefact scatter of remants of scree flakes once used in the tool making process along Gardiners Creek near Canterbury
Koorie men often mended or created hunting tools in
campsites alongside permsnent water supplies. Such sites are protected because they provide significant evidence of the way
the early Koories lived prior to European settlement.
The land arpund Gardiner's Ceek was an important part of the area in which
the Wurundjeri had a connection.
By the late 1860s, there was virtually no Aboriginal presence in
ths district, as most of the indigenous population had been relocated to the Coranderrk Community near Healesvlile.
Prior to this, the area which became the Parish of Nunawading was
occupied by the Wurundjeri peoples,
As initial white settlement in the district didn't start until the 1860s,
there was little opportunity for direct interaction between the early squatters and the remaining
Little material evidence remains today of the Wujurunderi peoples in Whitehorse.
It is believed that the land along the present Damper (Gardiner's) Creek
was once used by the Wurundjeri.
Pound Bend (Warrandyte) Aboriginal Reserve.
bronze commemorative plaques on rocks were ceremonially unveiled by Wurundjeri Tribe Council Elders in March 2013. The plaques mark
the two eastern boundaries of the former Warrandyte Aboriginal Reserve on the north and south sides of the Yarra.
This project was initiated by Nillumbik Reconciliation Group in close association
with Reconciliation Manningham and the Wurundjeri Tribe Council, as a means of commemorating the last great corroboree of
the Kulin Nation which was held at Pound Bend in March 1852.