Aboriginal Melbourne walk - City of Melbourne
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Aboriginal Melbourne walk

Sir Douglas and Lady Gladys Nicholls Memorial
Things to see and do to learn about the Aboriginal heritage and culture of Melbourne.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

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 we are proud to say that Melbourne is a significant gathering place for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Download the Aboriginal Melbourne walk (PDF 534KB)

Sights on this walk

1. 'Pastor Sir Douglas and Lady Gladys Nicholls Memorial', Parliament Gardens
Located in Parliament Gardens, this memorial recognises Pastor Sir Douglas and Lady Gladys Nicholls, who 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 painting created circa 1880 by Wurundjeri Ngurungaeta (headman) William Barak to reference the site as a traditional ceremonial ground and meeting place for the people of the Kulin Nation.

3. Scarred trees, various locations
Scarred trees have had bark removed to create canoes, shelters and shields by Aboriginal people. The tree grows around the ‘scar’ creating a unique appearance. Examples can be found at Melbourne Zoo, Fitzroy Gardens and Yarra Park.

4. Aboriginal flag, Melbourne Town Hall
In May 2012, as part of National Reconciliation Week, 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
A popular park next to Federation Square, Birrarung Marr includes some striking Aboriginal art. In the language of the Wurundjeri and Boon Wurrung people who inhabited this area, ‘Birrarung’ means ‘river of mist’ while ‘Marr’ refers to the side of the river.

6. Kings Domain Resting Place
Marked by a granite boulder, this is the site of skeletal remains belonging to 38 Aboriginal people from Victoria. The remains were repatriated from the Museum of Victoria in 1985; 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. One of the sculptures represents Gayip, 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 carved and decorated recycled pier posts evoke ancient shield and canoe-making techniques. Each 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 with eyes of glass. 'Eagle' is affectionately known as ’Bunjil’, the Kulin Nation’s creator spirit who appeared as an eagle hawk after creating the land, the lore and its 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
Reflecting the geographical heritage of the area, the name Buluk means ‘wetlands’ in the Woiwurrung language of the Wurundjeri people. Before European arrival, this area provided local Aboriginal people with plenty of food and resources.

13. 'Reed Vessel', Docklands
Virginia King’s 'Reed Vessel' embraces themes of migration, passage and survival. The area 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 the story of two Aboriginal men who were publicly hanged in Melbourne in 1842, inviting you to discover how this story informs our knowledge of Aboriginal history and contested narratives of colonisation.

More places to visit

Koorie Heritage Trust
The Koorie Heritage Trust protects, promotes and preserves south-east Australian Koorie (Aboriginal) history and culture. The centre advances reconciliation through education, tours, exhibitions and sells a diverse range of Aboriginal artwork and products.

Aboriginal Heritage Walk, Royal Botanic Gardens
The Aboriginal Heritage Walk, set in the Royal Botanic Gardens, is an opportunity for visitors to explore traditional uses of plants for food, medicine, tools and ceremony. Discover the ancestral lands that the Royal Botanical Gardens now occupies.

Bunjilaka, Melbourne Museum
Learn about Victoria’s unique Aboriginal cultures and celebrate the diversity of language, custom and art at the Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre.

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