Ngatanwarr – Welcome
The Gunditjmara people are the recognised Traditional Owners for the south-west of Victoria, and have a rich living culture whose heritage is embodied in the landscape.
There are many landscapes within Gunditjmara Country – Nyamat Mirring (Sea Country), Tungatt Mirring (Stone Country), Bocara Mirring (River Country) and Woorrowarook Mirring (Forest Country) – connecting Gunditjmara Traditional Owners to Country through dreaming stories, language, oral histories, cultural law/lore and customs. This heritage is a vital legacy for the Gunditjmara Traditional Owners today and in the future.
There are many special cultural places in Gunditjmara Country and these must be protected. These places are important culturally and spiritually to the Gunditjmara Traditional Owners who care for them and who continue their connections to the land today.
Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation (Gunditj Mirring) was established in 2005 by Traditional Owners to progress Gunditjmara rights and interest in native title, cultural heritage and caring for country. The corporation is a Registered Native Title Body Corporation under the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth) and a Registered Aboriginal Party (RAP) under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 (Vic). It is community-controlled, governed by Gunditjmara Traditional Owners and an elected Board of Directors. Gunditj Mirring brings together Gunditjmara Traditional Owners for discussions and decision making. Gunditj Mirring engages with other Aboriginal community organisations and the broader community through partnerships, collaborations and a variety of projects.
Through Gunditj Mirring, Gunditjmara people ensure that the responsibilities and duties which arise under Gunditjmara law, custom and beliefs are carried out in relation to caring for country and the protection and continuation of Gunditjmara law and culture. On behalf of the Gunditjmara community, the corporation owns and manages a number of culturally significant properties along the Budj Bim National Heritage Landscape. All properties are declared Indigenous Protected Areas (IPAs) and are managed for their cultural heritage and biodiversity values.
Gunditjmara are connected to all their traditional Country, and along with the Budj Bim landscape other important places include Bochara (Glenelg River), Gariwerd (including Grampians National Park) and the cliffs, dunes, wetlands and estuaries of the coast and sea Country from the South Australian border to Yambuck. Gunditjmara Country means the whole of the environment including nature and heritage, and material and spiritual components.
Gunditj Mirring and Winda-Mara Aboriginal Corporation have freehold properties totalling 3,200 hectares along the Budj Bim Cultural Landscape. The properties are declared as Indigenous Protected Areas (IPAs) by the Gunditjmara community owners and recognised by the Australian Government.
The IPAs are part of the Budj Bim Cultural Landscape, which was listed on the World Heritage Register in 2018. The UNESCO World Heritage listing states that:
The Budj Bim Cultural Landscape is the result of a creational process narrated by the Gunditjmara as a deep time story. For the Gunditjmara, deep time refers to the idea that they have always been there. From an archaeological perspective, deep time refers to a period of at least 32,000 years that Aboriginal people have lived in the Budj Bim Cultural Landscape. The ongoing dynamic relationship of Gunditjmara and their land is nowadays carried by knowledge systems retained through oral transmission and continuity of cultural practice.UNESCO
In these properties, and in Gunditjmara Country overall, Gunditj Mirring priorities are to improve the health of the Country in the long term and restore it to a rich, healthy and diverse condition. Much has been achieved in the Budj Bim landscape, with the restoration of water to Lake Condah, and flows through the Tyrendarra wetlands. To help achieve these goals Gunditj Mirring works in partnership with government agencies and non-government groups.
Lake Condah, Budj Bim Cultural Landscape
Gunditj Mirring and Glenelg Hopkins CMA – a long standing partnership
Gunditj Mirring and Glenelg Hopkins CMA have created a strong and enduring partnership founded on mutual trust and respect over many years. In 2016 Gunditj Mirring and the CMA ratiﬁed a formal partnership agreement which records the principles that underpin the work we do together. We have been looking after Country together for more than 20 years, and conﬁdence in the partnership has grown from year to year.
The Partnership Statement outlines the commitment of both Gunditj Mirring and Glenelg Hopkins CMA to continue their partnerships with the aim of a more sustainable and resilient future for the health of people and country.
We have a productive and collaborative partnership that we will use to further restore, protect and enhance the natural and cultural landscape of our region and the well-being of our community.Vision, Gunditj Mirring and Glenelg Hopkins CMA Partnership Statement
Partnership signing- Damein Bell (CEO Gunditj Mirring), Kevin Wood (past CMA CEO), Denis Lovett (Chair of Gunditj Mirring Board), Tony Ford (CMA Chair)
Some of the projects we have worked on together
Glenelg River Cultural Flows (2016 – current)
This project brings together a partnership of Traditional Owners who are connected to Glenelg River Country – Gunditj Mirring, Barengi Gadjin Land Council and Burrandies Aboriginal Corporation – to understand the cultural values of the river and build cultural practices, advance Traditional Owner access and entitlements to water and expand their roles in managing water and caring for the River.
Budj Bim Cultural Indicators (2019-20)
A statewide trial of ways to include Gunditjmara cultural values of the Budj Bim waterways into the ongoing monitoring of the health of those waterways.
Yarns on Farms (2013-18)
A partnership project that brought Gunditjmara Traditional Owners and other landholders together to share stories and learn from each other about their Country, properties and cultural heritage.
Part-parti mirring-yi (Woodland Bird Smartphone App 2018)
This app guide to woodland birds across Gunditjmara Country includes Aboriginal language names and stories connected to many species, along with audio recordings of the spoken language names and birdsongs.
Budj Bim Connections (2017-current)
A landscape-scale project aimed at learning about the ecological and cultural values of Palawarra (Fitzroy River) and Killara (Darlots Creek) to restore and care for the waterways, including improving flows, removing weeds and improving vegetation cover.
Improving Flows in the Budj Bim Landscape (2017-current)
A series of projects aims at keeping water on Country for longer by investigating and restoring the hydrology of wetland systems and returning water to the eel aquaculture systems along the Budj Bim waterways.
Our concerns and priorities for Gunditjmara Country
Key concerns and threats to Gunditjmara Country include:
- Climate change – reduced rainfall and runoff, high temperatures and more fires, rising sea levels, coastal erosion and loss of cultural heritage.
- Stock on water frontages causing damage and impacting water quality.
- Trees and falling limbs damaging eel aquaculture system, including fire damaged trees.
- Blue gum and other forestry plantations impacting ground water and hydrological systems.
- Weeds and feral animal impacts, particularly on cultural heritage sites.
- Carp, Murray cod and other introduced species in Rocklands Reservoir and Bochara (Glenelg River).
- Diversions of water from Bochara and the Wannon River.
- Illegal fishing and wildlife harvesting.
- Sand pumping and dredging in the Portland Harbour.
- Inappropriate public access to coastal environments that damages cultural heritage, including four wheel drive use along dunes and beaches.
Water in the aquaculture channels, Lake Condah
Tyson Lovett-Murray and Craig Oliver talking about cultural landscapes – Yarns on Farms
Learning about eDNA testing along Bochara with Budj Bim Rangers
Glenelg Hopkins CMA staff learning about coastal middens from Tya Lovett (Aboriginal Victoria) and Tyson Lovett-Murray (Gunditj MIrring)
Below are the key priorities for managing Gunditjmara Country. These priorities have been captured in the broad themes of water and wetlands, our community, plants and animals and sea Country.
Education opportunities are provided to the broader community about Aboriginal cultural heritage and values through community events, tourism and interpretive signage – we want to show people what rich cultural heritage exists in this Country.
Help our Country and people prepare and adapt to current and future climate change – less rain, higher temperatures and more storms.
Develop a cultural plant walking trail from Budj Bim to Tae Rak, including access to this Country for out community and also for broader tourism.
Increase landholder engagement through programs such as Yarns on Farms.
Connect with other Traditional Owners, for example in the Glenelg River Cultural Flows project – social connection and on Country projects are important.
Run community events like fishing competitions to help control introduced species.
Help our community get back on Country by creating opportunities to access Country such as:
– Establishing a Traditional Owner camping area at Lower Glenelg National Park.
– Increasing access for community to Gunditjmara owned IPAs and the Winda-Mara owned Corella property.
– Getting community out to Lake Gorrie to work on wetland restoration
– Learning about and looking after fish traps and cultural heritage.
Plants and animals
Investigate the feasibility of species reintroduction on Country, including quolls and bandicoots.
Develop a Country cultural monitoring plan that supports data gathering and cultural practice.
Utilise seasonal calendars for planning and for tourism, communication and education about cultural land management.
Incorporate cultural significant plants as part of revegetation programs.
Develop programs to control pest animals and plants in collaboration with neighbouring property holders, including blackberries and thistles, willows, pigs, deer and rabbits.
Work with Winda-Mara Aboriginal Corporation to continue regenerative agriculture trials at their Corella property.
Partner on revegetation and plantings to support red-tail black cockatoo populations, and establish and extend wildlife corridors.
Continue native food trials including eel aquaculture and wattle seed plantations with Winda-Mara Aboriginal Corporation.
Water and wetlands
Maintaining water quality and quantity across the Budj Bim World Heritage Landscape, including wetland restoration and resilience by:
– Returning water to Lake Gorrie and Kurtonitj wetlands and eel channels.
– Trial inundation of the eel channels at the Muldoon’s property.
On-river gatherings to support cultural practise and monitoring.
Explore tourism opportunities with watered and active eel channels.
Weed control and revegetation along Killara (Darlots Creek).
More Traditional Owner involvement and oversight on Glenelg River – both Gunditjmara and our neighbours along the river.
Assess water entitlements and licensing arrangements for Bochara (Glenelg River), and the downstream impacts.
Monitor risks of carp and other invasive species in the Bochara System, including Rocklands Reservoir.
Implement cultural burning along waterways to benefit riparian species and protect waterways from bushfire impacts, as well as cultural burning of wetlands.
Increase our understanding and awareness of estuary systems, including openings and impacts.
Formal recognition of cultural sites on Bochara, and broader cultural heritage assessment and protection on waterways.
Identify and protect cultural heritage from erosion, sea level rise, public impacts and visitation.
Access and protect culturally significant Coast and Sea Country resources.
Establish interpretive and educational information, including signage, for the broader community about cultural heritage and history along the coast.