The First Nations owned-and-operated Budj Bim Cultural Landscape Tourism on Gunditjmara Country in Victoria’s far Southwest, is set to launch on 1 July 2022.
The new Indigenous cultural experience will afford visitors an incredible discovery of the region’s ancient living heritage, where evidence of society working around a system of life-filled waterways dates at least 6,600 years.
The new cultural tourism experience surrounds Budj Bim National Park and Tae Rak (Lake Condah), beyond Victoria’s picturesque Great Ocean Road, a popular natural attraction for both Australian and overseas visitors.
Formed by an ancient eruption of the now dormant Budj Bim (Mount Eccles), meaning ‘high head’, the resulting lava flows and waterways allowed the Gunditjmara people to establish one of the world’s most extensive and oldest aquaculture systems, from which kooyang (eels) were harvested and used both for nutrition and for trade.
The Budj Bim Cultural Landscape was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2019, making it the first Australian landscape to be included purely for its Indigenous cultural values.
State-of-the-art tourism infrastructure, designed to enable an enriching experience of the landscape and its people, has been developed by Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation (GMTOAC).
Hamilton-based Cooper Scaife Architects designed the Tae Rak Aquaculture Centre including the visitor information hub and eatery, along with four other visitor sites across the Budj Bim Cultural Landscape using sustainable and culturally significant designs. Visitors can try refreshments and smoked kooyang, bringing to life the farming and culinary techniques practiced by Gunditjmara over hundreds of generations.
A new Crater Rim Lookout cantilevers over the volcanic rim at Budj Bim National Park, while a pedestrian bridge and information shelter crosses Killara (Darlots Creek) as part of the Tyrendarra Indigenous Protected Area.
An extended series of walking trails and raised boardwalks weaves throughout the landscape and allows visitors a discovery of the region’s most important heritage sites while protecting the natural environment and the Gunditjmara cultural heritage. These aquaculture systems have been carefully preserved onsite and are accessible for visitors to view for now and into the future.
From 1 July 2022, small group tours led by Gunditjmara cultural guides will be on offer with a chance for visitors to discover the Indigenous culture and landscape at Budj Bim through First Nations people’s eyes.
Included are a two-hour tour of Tae Rak, a half or full day tour of Tungatt Mirring (Stone Country) or a full day tour of Yarkeen Yaang (Swamp Dreaming), meaning visitors can opt for a shorter day visit or a deeper dive into the cultural landscape.
In next steps for the Budj Bim Cultural Landscape a 2.5 gigalitre water allocation has been approved for the Palawarra (Fitzroy River) system which will create a spectacular wetland, a natural attraction and breeding habitat for thousands of native and migratory birds which thrive in the diverse coastal environment, creating a rewarding outdoors experience for visitors.
Bookings for Budj Bim Cultural Landscape Tourism guided tours are essential. For bookings and more information, visit: www.budjbim.com.au