Connecting to Local Indigenous Culture - Australian Heritage Festival
From April 18th, right across Australia, people are taking part in the 2018 Australian Heritage Festival.
The Festival is an opportunity to reflect on the places where we live, work, and travel, and why they are special, celebrating our many diverse and distinctive cultures. Communities are called to treasure their local cultural heritage by telling their stories and celebrating their traditions, including storytelling, music, food, dance, traditional games, and crafts.
The 2018 Australian Heritage Festival theme is My Culture, My Story celebrating the diversity of cultures that have shaped our shared heritage.
There are many exciting events happening in Melbourne and the wider state of Victoria, including tours of historic, heritage listed buildings, guided walks of culturally significant locations, special museum collection exhibitions and afternoon teas.
For Melbourne specifically, numerous events are focussed on the importance of local indigenous land, providing the opportunity to learn why particular areas, such as Federation Square and Birrarung Marr, are so important.
“The history of first peoples is really important and any steps you can take to deepen your understanding are really beneficial,” says Tamika Collins, Koorie Heritage Trust education support officer.
The Birrarung Wilam Walk (April 27, May 4, 11 and 18) will give people a different perspective about the land they walk on and doing it is a step towards reconciliation, Collins says.
The Yarra was originally a freshwater river and an important source of drinking water and food with plenty of fish, shellfish and eels. There was a waterfall at what is now Queen Street bridge, which kept the salty sea water separate from the fresh water. When this was removed in the late 19th-century, the salt destroyed the drinking water and freshwater fish.
Collins says the Birrarung Wilam (common ground) Walk is popular with tourists and students but she would like to see more Melburnians learn about the area’s history.
The walk starts at Federation Square and leads to the trust with its huge collection of artefacts. One of three Koorie guides bring people to the river to talk about the lives of the Aboriginal people at the time and the effects of colonisation.
Another similar event is the Aboriginal Heritage Walk through the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne, which is a significant cultural site for the local Koolin people. The walk takes visitors on a Journey into the Koolin peoples ancestral lands, to explore their rich and thriving culture.
The walk is led by an experienced Aboriginal guide and begins with a traditional smoking ceremony where participants are welcomed to country and the smoke of native plants used to ward off bad spirits. Participants are then guided through Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, Melbourne Gardens site and develop an understanding of and respect for the customs and heritage of the local Boon Wurrung and Woiwurrung people.
The Aboriginal Heritage Walks explore the traditional uses of plants for food, medicine, tools and ceremony in the peaceful surrounds of the beautiful Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, Melbourne Gardens.
The special one-hour Australian Heritage Festival Birrarung Wilam Walks are on Fridays until May 18. Bookings are essential.
The Aboriginal Heritage Walk departs daily (with the exception of Saturday) from 11 am. Bookings are essential.