Local Indigenous history

The City of Boroondara acknowledges the traditional owners, including the Wurundjeri in the northern part of our City, as the original custodians of this land, and respects their customs and traditions and their special relationship with the land.

The first Europeans settled in the Boroondara area in 1837. At the time of settlement there were around 38 tribal groups in the region. The Wurundjeri were one of the most important tribal groups.

Surveying the area in 1837, Robert Hoddle declared it the 'Parish of Boroondara'. As the area was densely wooded, he took the word from the Woiwurrung language, translating it as 'where the ground is thickly shaded'.

Our Indigenous population today

While Boroondara has a relatively small Indigenous population today, the city’s Indigenous connections have not been lost. Knowledge of the land and way of life has been preserved by Wurundjeri descendants, Indigenous people (from different areas) have become residents, and non-Indigenous residents have become involved with Indigenous communities.

Numerous schools, churches, clubs and community groups are actively committed to the reconciliation process through symbolic recognition, as well as practical measures to address the disadvantage experienced by Indigenous people in the areas of health, employment, education and general opportunity.

A total of 221 Boroondara residents identified as Indigenous Australian in the 2011 Census, 194 identifying as Aboriginal and 27 identifying as either Torres Strait Islander or both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander.

Traditional areas and heritage sites

The Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council was created under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 to ensure that Aboriginal people throughout Victoria play a central role in the protection and management of their heritage.

The Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 recognises Aboriginal people as the primary guardians and keepers of Aboriginal cultural heritage. At a local level, Registered Aboriginal Parties (RAPs) are the voice of Aboriginal people in the management and protection of Aboriginal cultural heritage in Victoria.

Boroondara has 2 traditional areas: northern and southern. Traditional owners are represented through RAPs.

The bulk of land in Boroondara that is north of Studley Park Road, Cotham Road and Whitehorse Road is included in the Wurundjeri RAP area or northern traditional area. The single exception is a block (in Balwyn) bounded by Whitehorse Road, Union Road, Yarrbat Avenue and Kireep Road. This block includes Maranoa Gardens and Beckett Park. In the central precinct, only northern lots from 511-637 Whitehorse Road in Surrey Hills are within the Wurundjeri RAP area.

No RAP for the southern traditional area has been determined. The division between the Wurundjeri RAP area and the southern traditional area or undetermined RAP area traverses Boroondara’s north-east, north-west and central precincts.

Significant sites

There are 10 Aboriginal archaeological sites within Boroondara, 2 are Aboriginal historic places that are registered with Aboriginal Victoria.

In addition to these sites, 3 cultural places in Boroondara are significant to local history and reconciliation.

The Wurundjeri Garden

The garden is on Glan Avon Road in Hawthorn. The Hawthorn Historical Society and Hawthorn Council (now amalgamated into the City of Boroondara) created the Wurundjeri Garden with local community members, as part of a Bush Tucker Trail in 1990. Onion weed and ivy were removed and replaced with endemic native plant species and foods. The Friends of Wurundjeri Garden have monthly planting and weeding sessions at the gardens.

Canoe tree monument

The monument is on Bowyer Avenue in Kew. Its plaque commemorates a significant scarred canoe tree, estimated at the time to be more than 1000 years old, which was felled at that site in the late 1950s. The plaque has the following inscription:

Commemorating the Aborigines and their craftsmanship. This district, formerly their meeting place, was known to them as Bark Hill. On this site grew an immense gum tree from which the Aborigines carved a large bark canoe. This canoe was probably launched on a passing stream which now flows underground to the river Yarra.

The monument was a joint initiative of the Aborigines Advancement League - Kew Branch, and the Kew Historical Society, and was erected in 1965. Former residents recall the site being a regular gathering place for the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community in the 1960s.

Chandler Park Wurundjeri Trail

Chandler Park is a critical flora and fauna corridor of the Middle Yarra River and, along with Yarra Bend Park and other Yarra River open space frontages, represents one of Boroondara's most significant natural heritage assets.

Organisations promoting reconciliation

Reconciliation Australia: the peak national organisation building and promoting reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians for the wellbeing of the nation. An online calendar of events Australia-wide for National Reconciliation Week is available on their website.

Reconciliation Victoria: the state peak body for reconciliation, with a focus on supporting the growth of local reconciliation groups, promoting cultural awareness and education, working with young people, developing strategic partnerships, and building the capacity of the organisation.

Aboriginal Victoria: advises the Victorian Government on Aboriginal policy and planning, and delivers key programs. Aboriginal Victoria works in partnership with Aboriginal communities and government to promote knowledge, leadership and understanding about Victoria's Aboriginal people.

For more information, contact Community Planning and Development on 9278 4753.

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