The Andrews Labor Government has welcomed the long-awaited listing of Budj Bim on the World Heritage List, making it the first Australian site to be recognised exclusively for its Aboriginal cultural values.
Supported by the Victorian and Federal Government, Gunditjmara Traditional Owners travelled to Baku in Azerbaijan to attend the World Heritage Committee meeting and witness the historic World Heritage announcement.
Located in south west Victoria, Budj Bim Cultural Landscape was recognised for its sophisticated aquaculture system that manipulated water flows and ensured eels could be harvested throughout the year.
The system includes weirs, dams and stone channels – some hundreds of metres long and dug out of basalt lava flow – and has been carbon dated to a remarkable 6,600 years old.
Budj Bim also features the remains of more than 300 round, basalt stone houses – evidence of the Gunditjmara People’s permanent settlement in the area.
The Labor Government has invested $13 million to protect the area as Budj Bim develops into a world-class tourism destination. The investment also supports self-determination for the Gunditjmara People in sharing the land with the rest of the world.
Over the past five years, the Gunditjmara people have worked closely with the Victorian and Australian Governments in developing Budj Bim’s World Heritage nomination.
In recommending Budj Bim for World Heritage listing, the International Council on Monuments and Sites acknowledged the Gunditjmara community’s involvement and leadership in nominating the site for inclusion on the World Heritage List.
Budj Bim is now Australia’s 20th property on the UNESCO World Heritage List and the second for Victoria, alongside the Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens.
As stated by Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Gavin Jennings
“The Gunditjmara People have managed their Country for thousands of years and pursued Budj Bim’s World Heritage listing over several decades – it’s wonderful to their ingenuity and determination globally recognised.”
As stated by Member for Western Victoria Gayle Tierney
“We will continue to support the Gunditjmara people in taking a self-determination approach as they lead the protection and development of this remarkable landscape and share it sustainably with the world.”
As stated by Gunditjmara Elder Denise Lovett
“This is a very special day for our community. This landscape, which we have cared for over thousands of years, is so important to Gunditjmara People. The decision also recognises Budj Bim’s significance to all of humanity. We are so proud to now be able to share our achievements and story with the world.”