The Victorian Indigenous site Budj Bim – which is older than the Egyptian Pyramids – has been added to the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Located in Southwest Victoria, the elaborate ‘eel trap’ system was created over 6,600 years ago by the local Gunditjmara people. It was an important food source for thousands of years and also a way to manage water flow and access.

Over the past five years, the Gunditjmara people have worked closely with the Victorian and Australian Governments to develop Budj Bim’s World Heritage nomination. And the hard work paid off – it is now the only Australian World Heritage property listed exclusively for its Aboriginal cultural values.

What does being added to the World Heritage List mean?

Being added to the World Heritage List means the site is recognised as having ‘outstanding universal value’ and comes with plenty of benefits including additional protection from development and an expected tourism boost.

Denis Rose, project manager for Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation, told the ABC: “It’s a very exhaustive process. We based it on a lot of evidence, and now that it’s been decided, I’m extremely happy. I think it’s an important acknowledgement of the work that our Gunditjmara ancestors have done.

“When I take people out to country I tell them this aquaculture system was first built 6,600 years ago — there’s not many things on the planet that still exist today that are older than that.”

An investment for the future

The Victorian Government will invest over $13 million to the Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation to help implement the Budj Bim Master Plan and support the new push for tourism.

Visit Victoria chief executive officer Peter Bingeman says: “Supporting Aboriginal tourism in Victoria is central to telling the story of Victoria’s diverse history, growing the state’s tourism assets and supporting local communities through the creation of jobs and training opportunities.”

Budj Bim joins 18 other Australian locations on the list including the Great Barrier Reef, the Sydney Opera House and Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.


Feature photo by Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation

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