Marine and Coast

Meerteeyt Nyamat
Eastern Maar Sea Country

“Maar citizens have always had a close connection with the sea and its resources, which were central to our culture, economy and survival. The ocean nourished our Ancestors and we still rely on it for our survival. Abundant middens along the coastline tell a rich story of our past. The coastline is home to sites that are important for our Dreaming – Three Sisters Rocks and Deen Maar (Lady Julia Percy Island) where our Ancestors leave the earth.

Our connection with our Sea Country extends well beyond the current shoreline to the edge of the continental shelf. While this area is under the sea today, we occupied it for thousands of years and rising sea levels have not washed away the history, physical evidence or our connection.”

Deen Maar

The Glenelg Hopkins region is characterised by its dramatic coastline, with towering cliffs and extensive dune systems carved out by changing sea levels, volcanic activity, and wind and water erosion. The Gunditjmara and Eastern Maar peoples have a strong cultural association with the region’s marine and coastal environment. The many middens along the coast are evidence of the long history of Aboriginal people gathering food from the marine environment. At Moyjil (Point Richie) at the mouth of the Hopkins River human habitation has been dated to at least 40,000 years1. Between Tyrendarra East and Port Fairy the Land and Sea Country of the Gunditjmara and Eastern Maar peoples meet and are co-managed2. Deen Maar, an island between Portland and Port Fairy is of cultural and spiritual importance to Gunditjmara peoples, who associate the island with the spirits of the dead3. The Convincing Ground (east of Portland) is the site of the first documented Aboriginal massacre in Victoria around 1833.

Eighty per cent of Victorians rate the marine and coastal environment as the most important natural feature of Victoria4. It contributes significantly to the economic, cultural, environmental, and recreational life of local, regional, and state communities5. Environmentally, it is rich in biodiversity, with many unique species and is home to a variety of threatened species. The coastal zone also contains many sites of Aboriginal and European historical significance and regionally significant ports and industry6.

Moyjil – Point Richie, Warrnambool, Eastern Maar Country
Photo: Warrnambool City Council

Cape Bridgewater, Gunditjmara Country