The Port Phillip and Western Port region is the country of the Wurundjeri, Bunurong and Wadawurrung people. These people have lived in and been connected to the land, water, plants and animals of this area for many thousands of years.
The Wurundjeri, Bunurong and Wadawurrung people are acknowledged as the Traditional Owners of this land and we offer our respect to their Elders both past and present.
Elders from the Wurundjeri Land Council, Wadawurrung (Wathaurung Aboriginal Corporation) and Bururong Land Council kindly provided the following statements as a Welcome to Country and an introduction to this Regional Catchment Strategy.
We, the Wurundjeri, wish to acknowledge the Regional Catchment Strategy approach to collectively setting targets to protect and enhance the unique environment of our region, and believe this to be a good approach to getting productive outcomes for our environment. We also welcome this Regional Catchment Strategy as a plan to care for the land, plants, animals and rivers of Wurundjeri Country.
The Wurundjeri people are the surviving clan of the Woiwurrung. It is our birth right to take responsibility for caring for family, community and country. The Wurundjeri are the custodians of land including the Birrarong Yaluk (Yarra River) and the Yarra forests, an unbroken relationship with land and water for many thousands of years.
We, the Wurundjeri, have cared for this land and its plants and animals, now we work to pass on our knowledge and skills to help everyone care for this land in similar ways. Our message is that Wurundjeri people have a deep understanding and connection to this land that should be respected and valued.
From the beginning of time, Bunjil the creator gave men and women the responsibility and knowledge of hunting and gathering resources in a sustainable way and then in turn the responsibility of passing it on. It was part of cultural lore.
We welcome you to our Country and hope you will care for it in a similar way to our Wurundjeri forefathers and the Wurundjeri people of today.
Aunty Doreen Garvey Wandin
Aunty Alice Kolasa
Uncle Colin Hunter Jnr
Wadawurrung people have been in contact with and caring for the land within the western part of the Port Phillip and Westernport CMA region for generations immemorial.
The Wadawurrung support a collaborative approach to environmental management and target setting on a regional scale, in keeping with traditional land management practice where people worked together for common goals in caring for country.
The Wadawurrung people farmed, hunted and foraged within the western plains grasslands, coast and ranges, from the Werribee River to the You Yangs and along the Port Phillip Bay. Wadawurrung country extends from Fiery Creek in the west to the Great Dividing Range in the north, the Werribee River in the east and the coastline from Werribee River to Painkalac Creek at Aireys Inlet to the south.
The entire Wadawurrung country was a mosaic of clan estates, of which there were 25 through which intermarriage and other alliances, people were able to access land and resources far beyond their own estates. Access to land and resources was negotiated through discussion, marriage, ceremony and adherence to traditional law.
Present day Wadawurrung business focuses upon teaching and maintaining cultural knowledge and kinship ties, cultural heritage protection, identification and management advice, cultural services such as welcomes and cultural heritage training, advice to government and non-government on cultural heritage management, and environmental and land management services.
Uncle Bryon Powell
Bunurong Land Council
The Bunurong Land Council represents the traditional people and custodians of the lands stretching from the Werribee River in the west to Point Nepean and Wilson Promontory in the south and south east, we are proud members of the Kulin Nation.
Over 1000 generations of our people have been here before us. Archaeological excavation within our Country has already demonstrated about 30,000 years worth of occupation. These sites can show us how our ancestors interacted with their environment and how that interaction changed over time. We regard all evidence of our people’s occupation as sacred.
The Bunurong agree that collective management of the environment is a progressive and appropriate way to manage natural resources and to conserve our wonderful biodiversity and we encourage management agencies to commit to target setting as a means of establishing a collective commitment.
Many of the descendants of the first people of Melbourne have played a major role in bringing about change. Today, we can still feel the spirit of this country, its Indigenous history and its spirit.
If you understand the continuing history of Melbourne – you will also understand that we, as its first people, have always taken an active and leading role in many areas – including health and wellbeing and managing for environmental wellbeing.
The spirit of Bunjil and his gift of generosity have influenced this land for thousands of years and continue to do so today. According to our tradition, our land has always been protected by our creator Bunjil who travels as an eagle and by Waarn who protects the waterways and travels as a crow.
Bunjil taught the Bunurong to always welcome guests, but he always required that we ask all visitors to make two promises, to obey the laws of Bunjil and not to harm the children or the land of Bunjil.
This commitment was made through the simple exchange of a small bough, dipped in the water.
The importance of this land and this spiritual place lies within our history and our culture. We encourage everyone to nurture and care for this land as we do – with love and respect, to protect the rivers, the creeks and the waterways as they are the blood of this land and to observe the wisdom of Bunjil – to care for the children.
CEO, Bunurong Land Council