They spoke Woiwurrung, one of the five languages of the Kulin nation in south-central Victoria. Traditionally, clans were centred near a water catchment area but travelled often, according to the seasons. They were well skilled in managing and shaping the land through farming schedules and controls that maintained species balances, closely aligned to what we consider permaculture farming practices today. Clans also devoted their time to artistic, educational, ceremonial, recreational, family, and social activities.
Woiwurrung people lived along local waterways such as the Darebin Creek and the Yarra and Plenty Rivers. Trade and travel routes were developed which connected Woiwurrung people with their neighbouring clans. For example, the greenstone that the Woiwurrung people quarried at Mount William was traded as far away as New South Wales and South Australia. This formed the basis of main routes we know today such as Bulleen Road (City of Manningham).
Significant sites include the scarred tree in Lower Plenty, Warringal Parklands and the Yarra Flats Reserve, East Ivanhoe, Bolin Bolin Billabong and Banyule Flats Reserve.
Barrbunin Beek is a gathering place for the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community at West Heidelberg.
Pound Bend, Warrandyte was an important gathering place. The Warrandyte Aboriginal Reserve is the site where Simon Wonga organised a great Kulin Nation corroboree in March 1852. Nearby Pound Bend Reserve also includes interpretive signs on-site. Along the riverfront at Warrandyte there was an extensive aquaculture area where rock stone eel traps were installed on the rapids.
Clans met at the waterway junction of Diamond Creek and the Yarra River in the area now known as Eltham Lower Park. Stone axes, grinding stones and anvil stones have been found in the gullies around Research, and canoe trees and artefacts on the Kangaroo Ground hills. The Darrabi Garden at Hurstbridge, Moor-rul Grasslands at Kangaroo Ground, and GAWA trail near Watsons Creek have been established to explain how the land was used by the Wurundjeri willam clan.
The Panton Hill Bushland Reserve system is significant for its presence of heritage sites and diverse array of native plants, animals and vegetation. Download the new brochure map of the Reserves recently published and learn about the seven reserves that form a corridor of remnant bushland covering 140 hectares. An extensive network of trails leads you through a variety of vegetation communities, and past sites of cultural and historical significance.
An ancient eel trap was discovered in secluded bushland in Eltham. Read more about Garambi Baan. Wyenondabul at Bend of Islands is also considered a significant place.
The Barak Bushlands, an urban and wetlands area west of the Eltham gateway approach near the Diamond Creek, forms part of a walking trail and was named in 2004 as part of the Shire of Nillumbik's commitment to Indigenous reconciliation.
Local sites of significance include Bundoora Park where large River Red Gums grow, some bearing marks from Aboriginal use for shelters and utensils. There is a scarred tree and outcrops of silcrete from Mount Cooper which were quarried to produce stone tools. Mount Cooper is the highest point in metropolitan Melbourne and would have provided an excellent view point for clans to identify others from smoke rising from their camp fires.
The Plenty River, Edgars Creek, Merri Creek, and the Plenty Gorge were resource-rich environments for raw materials, food and perennially fresh water. The Gorge is associated with stories of Wurundjeri creation ancestors. Yan Yean Reservoir was originally a reedy lagoon covering some 800 acres, a gathering for birdlife and local clans.
The remnants of River Red Gums Scarred trees are rare and fragile reminders of the resource harvesting techniques practiced by generations of Aboriginal people. Take this self-guided trail of 12 sites at RMIT Bundoora or view information online.
Some local place names have been inspired by the Woiwurrung language including Bundoora, Yan Yean and Wollert. Learn more via the City of Whittlesea.
The Sorry Space at the City of Whittlesea Civic Centre and self-guided sorry walk promotes healing and community wellbeing. Enjoy this collection of traditional Creation Stories on video.