Cultural Landscape Health and Management

Aboriginal existence and identity is underpinned by healthy cultural landscapes. Along with water and other natural resources, the land that is now the State of Victoria was managed for thousands of years according to traditional laws, customs and practices. Shaped by a sustainable-use regime and managed with a deep understanding of natural systems embedded in lore and culture, Country (land, water, animals, plants, people, spirits and customs) has provided for the material, cultural and spiritual needs of thousands of generations of Aboriginal people.

Victoria’s cultural landscapes are unique. They are host to one of the oldest continuous cultures in the world and home to a vast array of plants, animals and places that have both symbolic and practical value to Aboriginal Victorians and all other Victorians. Today’s cultural landscapes reflect how Aboriginal people engaged with their world and experienced their surroundings. They are the product of generations of economic activity, material culture and settlement patterns. While colonisation resulted in the landscape being broken up into different land tenures and the establishment of different management regimes, Aboriginal people remain connected to Country and cultural landscapes which are continuous across current management boundaries.

Defined as the river of mists and shadows, the Birrarung (Yarra River) is also viewed as one whole living cultural landscape by its First Peoples, the Kulin Nation. The Yarra River is the ancestral home of Wurundjeri, Boon Wurrung and Bunurong. They bring their knowledge, connections, understanding, aspirations and objectives to the development of the YSP.