World Heritage Listing for Australia’s oldest aquaculture

6 July 2019

The Budj Bim Cultural Landscape of south-western Victoria has been confirmed as the first Australian site to be awarded World Heritage status solely for its Aboriginal cultural values.

Fourteen Gunditjmara people, were in Baku, Azerbaijan for the historic announcement from the World Heritage Committee, six of them funded directly by the Australian Government.

The announcement represented the culmination of 15 years of work behind the scenes by Budj Bim’s traditional owners, the Australian Government, state and local agencies.

Australia’s 20th World Heritage Area, Budj Bim has been maintained through the continuity of Gunditjmara cultural and social practices and their active management. It contains evidence of one of the world’s largest and oldest aquaculture systems. 

Over six millennia, Gunditjmara people used the abundant local volcanic rock to engineer channels, eel traps, weirs and ponds to manage water flows from nearby Lake Condah. This aquaculture system continues to be actively managed by the Gunditjmara, who continue to manage and divert water today.

I commend the Gunditjmara traditional owners for initiating and leading the World Heritage nomination and working closely with governments at all levels, scientific experts and the broader local community to achieve this outstanding result.

My colleague, the Member for Wannon, Dan Tehan, has also acknowledged the hard work and aspirations of the Gunditjmara community saying that it was incredible to see the area receive the global recognition that it deserves.

He has highlighted the economic benefits which will flow to the Gunditjmara and South West Victorian communities saying: “South West Victoria more than ever a must visit tourist destination with Budj Bim, the Twelve Apostles and Grampians National Park.”

Video footage of interviews with Minister Ley and with Denis Rose, Gunditjmara Traditional Owner, available here .

Pronunciation: Budj Bim (BUDGE BIM); Gunditjmara (GHUN-DITCH-MAH-RA)

Images for media use:

Bunji Lovett netting a Kooyang (eel)
Tae Rak channel and holding pond