Aboriginal places and objects

Find out more about Victoria's Aboriginal places and objects.

Throughout Victoria, even in the most intensively developed regions, the landscape holds the imprint of thousands of generations of Aboriginal people.

Each part of Victoria, from the coast to the high country and from the semi arid Mallee to the rain forests of the east, has places where Aboriginal people lived, ate, were expressing themselves artistically, passing on creation stories and cultural values, engaging in conflict, establishing alliances and social networks, trading goods, celebrating rites of passage and committing the departed to their final resting places.

Arrival of Europeans

With the arrival of Europeans in Victoria, the nature of Aboriginal occupation and use of the land changed dramatically.

Different cultural heritage places were created at the places where the first contacts between European and Aboriginal people occurred such as massacre sites, missions and protectorate stations.

Properties where Aboriginal people lived and worked also became important cultural heritage places.

In recent times, places such as those associated with the Aboriginal rights movement have become important cultural heritage places.

Ceremonial and spiritual places

There are also cultural heritage places where there may be no physical evidence of past cultural activities.

These include:

  • places of spiritual or ceremonial significance
  • places where traditional plant or mineral resources occur
  • trade and travel routes

Information about such places may be passed down from one generation to the next or have been recorded in nineteenth century documents and records.

What are Aboriginal places and objects?

Aboriginal people have lived in southern Australia, including what is now Victoria, for thousands of years. During that time, the people living in these regions left physical evidence of their activities that now survive as cultural heritage places and objects.

Where are they located?

Aboriginal places and objects can be found all over Victoria and are often near major food sources such as rivers, lakes, swamps and the coast.

Aboriginal places and objects can also be found on private property. Aboriginal Victoria works in partnership with landowners, land managers and Aboriginal communities to record, protect and manage these places and objects.

Aboriginal cultural heritage fact sheets 

The Aboriginal cultural heritage fact sheets provide information about the types of Aboriginal cultural heritage found in Victoria.

What if I have found an Aboriginal place or objects?

The Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006requires that the discovery of Aboriginal cultural heritage places or objects on any public or private land in Victoria be reported to Aboriginal Victoria. Landowners who suspect they have discovered Aboriginal cultural heritage on their land can find out what to do on Report and protect a possible Aboriginal place or object

How do I find out if there is a recorded Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Place on my property?

To find out whether your property has any recorded Aboriginal cultural heritage places or sites, such as scarred trees, occupation sites or places of burial, you will need to access the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Register.

Landowners are authorised to access the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Register but need to apply for access. Applicants will then be contacted by the Heritage Registrar.

You can also phone the Heritage Registry on 1800 762 003 to ask for an application form to be posted to you.

Resources and publications

A guide to shells commonly found in Victorian Aboriginal shell middens

Scarred trees: An identification and recording manual

Aboriginal stone structures in southwestern Victoria

Guidelines for conducting and reporting on Aboriginal cultural heritage investigations (other than cultural heritage management plans)

Reviewed 08 November 2020

Aboriginal Victoria

Contact Us

Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Register

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