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.
- 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.
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 09 October 2019