A proposal to upgrade a section of the Western Highway in South-Western Victoria has been met with growing resistance, as the construction will occur on land that is sacred to the Djab Wurrung people.

The proposed works in Western Victoria are a part of the state government’s $42 million upgrade to the Western Highway between Buangor and Ararat, in a bid to reduce the high death toll on this stretch of road. Protesters contest that the upgrade could follow another route, that does not require the demolition of sacred land.

The proposed construction will result in the destruction of Djab Wurrung trees, which are of strong cultural importance to Djab Wurrung women. It will not simply be the cutting down of a tree, it will be the wiping out of a part of culture, an integral part of the Djab Wurrung dreaming. Some of the trees have been used as birthing trees for over 800 years.

One campaigner, Banjarra Warri, told The Guardian ‘To me the trees are life. They birth life, they give life and breathe life. We’re going to do all we can to stay here as long as we can to save these trees. If we don’t save them, no one else will.’

A number of protesters have camped at the site for over a year and with a police notice of evacuation, support has only bolstered. In a sign of solidarity, protesters continue to amass at the site in a bid to conserve the Djab Wurrung trees.

What can people do to help?

You can join the protest camp, or place a donation. Check out the Djab Wurrung Heritage Protection Embassy page for all the info.


Photo by Dominic Cansdale for the ABC

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