Budj Bim in south west Victoria, home to the Gunditjmara people for thousands of years, is another step closer to its UNESCO World Heritage listing thanks to the Andrews Labor Government.
The cultural landscape in south west Victoria has been identified by scholars as the world’s first engineering project, dating back at least 6600 years, preceding the Pyramids of Egypt and Stonehenge.
The site hosts a sophisticated farming system, in which the Gunditjmara people engineered a complex system of weirs that trapped eels, providing them a yearly supply of food.
These eels provided such a reliable food source that the local people could settle there and build stone houses, instead of living a nomadic existence. These are the only Aboriginal stone houses found in Australia.
The Victorian Budget 2016/17 will provide $8 million for the Gundij Mirring Traditional Owners to implement stages one and two of the Budj Bim Master Plan, which will open this amazing natural heritage landscape to all Australians to learn about its rich history.
The Master Plan identifies priority projects to ensure the area can accommodate visitors and support tourism while providing economic opportunities for the Traditional Owners.
This will also strengthen a bid for the national heritage landscape to receive UNESCO World Heritage listing.
Priority projects include:
- Visitor buildings and interpretation sites
- Upgraded camping facilities
- Accommodation infrastructure
- Lookouts, walkways, and bike access
- Highway signage and parking facilities
- Utilities such as toilets and running water at key locations
- Construction of Budj Bim Aquaculture Interpretation Centre
The Labor Government last year announced Budj Bim as its priority nomination, after the Commonwealth sought State and Territory input for a review of its list of sites put forward for World Heritage status.
The funding, which is being delivered over four years, will also support engagement of a professional heritage expert who is required to finalise the nomination for submission to the World Heritage Committee.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Natalie Hutchins
“Budj Bim pre-dates the Pyramids of Egypt, is one of Australia’s most important Aboriginal sites, and it should absolutely be recognised as a UNESCO heritage listed site.”
“We are protecting Aboriginal cultural heritage and developing state-wide Aboriginal tourism experiences for all Victorians to respect and enjoy, while upholding the Gunditjmara people’s long and enduring connection to this land.”