Budj Bim: The First Aboriginal Site on UNESCO World Heritage List

Years before European settlements made first contact with the Australian soil, the Gunditjmara, occupied the Budj Bim. Developing a system, established by them, directing the water of the Darlot Creek into low lying areas to catch eels and fish in a succession of barrages, thus creating an aquaculture. This aquaculture stocked them well with eels, prompting permanent settlements in the form of stone dwellings in the area.

This Budj Bim Cultural Landscape, that chronicles the history of the Gunditjmara, their culture, their lifestyle, and their struggle against colonization was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List.

It has become the first Aboriginal Cultural site to be added to the list.The southwest Victorian indigenous site was accepted onto the list at a meeting in Baku, Azerbaijan on Saturday. Traditional owners and upholders of this legacy have been lobbying to enter it as a heritage site for decades now. The land came under the Gunditjmara People, thousands of years ago, 6,600 to be precise. The present site still houses relics of the bygone era. Remains of the stone channels to harvest eels from lake Condah, still stand, as a reminder of the original system. 300 stone huts, the dwelling of the indigenous people, are embedded on its landscape. This goes against the commonly perceived idea that all Aboriginal people were nomads.

The State Government has announced an $8 million fund for a visitor center and various works to get the site ready for the expected influx of tourists. This is a culturally monumental decision for the Aboriginal people and Australia. Other Australian sites on the UNESCO World Heritage List, are the Great Barrier Reef, Kakadu National Park and the Sydney Opera House.