This walking tour of 14 significant Aboriginal sites will take you from Melbourne's Fitzroy Gardens to the harbour at Docklands. You'll see artefacts of Aboriginal history and culture including scarred trees, historical meeting places and monuments.
The City of Melbourne respectfully acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the land, the Boon Wurrung and Woiwurrung (Wurundjeri) people of the Kulin Nation and pays respect to their Elders, past and present.
For the Kulin Nation, Melbourne has always been an important meeting place for events of social, educational, sporting and cultural significance. Today, Melbourne is a significant gathering place for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Sights on this walk
1. 'Pastor Sir Douglas and Lady Gladys Nicholls Memorial', Parliament Gardens
The couple were instrumental in the 1967 referendum campaign, pressing the case for Aboriginal reconciliation well before it became a popular view.
2. Paving inlay, Parliament House
This red granite and brass paving inlay uses a circa 1880 painting by William Barak to reference the site as a traditional ceremonial ground and meeting place for the people of the Kulin Nation.
3. Scarred tree, Fitzroy Gardens
Scarred trees have had bark removed by Aboriginal people to create canoes, shelters and shields. The tree grows around the ‘scar’ creating a unique appearance. More can be found at Melbourne Zoo and Yarra Park.
4. Aboriginal flag, Melbourne Town Hall
In 2012, the Aboriginal flag was permanently raised on Town Hall, acknowledging Aboriginal people as the Traditional Custodians of the land on which the City of Melbourne is located.
5. Birrarung Marr
This popular park next to Federation Square features some striking Aboriginal art. In the language of the Wurundjeri and Boon Wurrung people, ‘Birrarung’ means ‘river of mist’ and ‘Marr’ refers to the side of the river.
6. Kings Domain Resting Place
A granite boulder marks the skeletal remains of 38 Aboriginal people from Victoria, repatriated from the Museum of Victoria in 1985. It was the first successful repatriation of Aboriginal remains in Australia.
7. 'Gayip' (part of 'The Travellers' installation), Sandridge Bridge
This installation celebrates Aboriginal presence and the meeting of cultures through migration. Gayip is a Woiwurrung word that describes the ceremonial meeting of different Aboriginal clans through dance and storytelling.
8. Paving inlay, Immigration Museum
This stone and brass paving inlay commemorates the race won by an Aboriginal schoolboy, Peter, in 1876. The plaque was intentionally placed in contrast to the plaque commemorating John Batman's landing in 1835.
9. 'Scar – A Stolen Vision'
These 30 recycled pier posts evoke ancient shield and canoe-making techniques. Each carved pole represents an aspect of Aboriginal life, history or mythology and, like the trees they came from, are a testament of endurance.
10. 'Eagle', Docklands
Standing 25 metres tall, 'Eagle' is made of timber and aluminium and is a tribute to ’Bunjil’, the Kulin Nation’s creator spirit who appeared as an eagle hawk after creating the land, the lore and people.
11. Webb Bridge, Docklands
This pedestrian and cycling bridge, inspired by an Aboriginal eel trap, was designed and created by architects Denton Corkel Marshall and artist Robert Owen.
12. Buluk Park, Docklands
The name Buluk means ‘wetlands’ in the Woiwurrung language of the Wurundjeri people. Before European arrival, this area provided local Aboriginal people with plentiful food and resources.
13. 'Reed Vessel', Docklands
Virginia King’s artwork embraces themes of migration, passage and survival. Where it is located was once tidal wetlands, providing abundant food and spiritual connections for its traditional owners.
14. 'Standing by Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner'
This artwork commemorates two Aboriginal men who were publicly hanged in Melbourne in 1842. It explores our knowledge of Aboriginal history and contested narratives of colonisation.
Download this walk
This walk is available for download: Aboriginal Melbourne walk (PDF 534KB)
More places to visit
Koorie Heritage Trust
A centre dedicated to promoting Aboriginal culture, with an exhibition space and retail shop.
Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia
The world’s first major gallery dedicated exclusively to Australian art.
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