Aboriginal Maribyrnong

“We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land, the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung and Bunurong  peoples of the Kulin Nation and pay our respect to their Elders, past, present and emerging.”

A connection lasting more than 40,000 years

Aboriginal people have a deep and continuous connection to the place now called Victoria. Aboriginal people have lived in the Maribyrnong River valley for at least 40,000 years and probably far longer. 

Maribyrnong is an anglicised version of the Aboriginal term ‘Mirring-gnay-bir-nong’, which translates as 'I can hear a ringtail possum'.

European settlement in Maribyrnong in the 1830s had a massive impact on Aboriginal people – decimating communities, displacing families and disrupting lives. And yet in spite of this, Aboriginal culture remains a dynamic force in contemporary society, contributing to the diverse and thriving inner west. 

Who are the traditional owners of Maribyrnong?

The area now known as the City of Maribyrnong was a significant meeting place for the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung and the Bunurong peoples and clans of the Kulin Nation.

Where the Maribyrnong and Yarra rivers join was an especially important place as it symbolised the joining of groups who would travel along the river. Many sacred sites have been identified and further information about them can be found in Councils’ Aboriginal Heritage Study(PDF, 960KB) 

Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung peoples

The Wurundjeri People take their name from the Woiwurrung language word ‘wurun’ meaning the Manna Gum (Eucalyptus viminalis) which is common along ‘Birrarung’ (Yarra River), and ‘djeri‘, the grub which is found in or near the tree. Wurundjeri are the ‘Witchetty Grub People’ and their Ancestors relationship with the land extends back tens of thousands of years to when their creator spirit ‘Bunjil’ formed their people, the land and all living things.

The Wurundjeri’s connection to land is underpinned by cultural and spiritual values vastly different to those of the Europeans. The Wurundjeri did not ‘own’ the land in the European sense of the word, but belonged to, or were ‘owned by’ the land. They did not live in permanent settlements but, rather, camped for periods within defined clan boundaries where food was plentiful, and moved on when the land needed to rejuvenate. The land provided all the Wurundjeri needed – food, water, medicine, shelter – and they treated it with the respect due to such a provider.

Find out more about the Wurundjeri Aboriginal cultural heritage, cultural and educational services on www.wurundjeri.com.au

Bunurong peoples

The Bunurong peoples are First Nations people from south-east Victoria, their traditional lands are from the Werribee River in the north-west, down to Wilson's Promontory in the south-east, taking in the catchments of the old Carrum swamp, Tarwin River and Westernport Bay, and including Mornington Peninsula, French and Phillip Islands. Bunurong people were part of a language group or nation known as Kulin. Bunurong people prefer to be described as Kulin or Bunurong rather than Koorie, which is a word from another Aboriginal language. The Bunurong People were made up of a number of Clans or Family groups.

Find out more about the Bunurong / Boonwurrung peoples who are represented by two organisations namely the Bunurong Land Council Aboriginal Corporation www.bunuronglc.org and the Boon Wurrung Foundation.

In 2016, 0.5% of City of Maribyrnong's population was of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander descent compared to 0.5% in Greater Melbourne. 

Today, Aboriginal people live in every suburb of the City of Maribyrnong and many also come here to work and study, for worship and leisure, and to access a range of services and resources.

Find out more about the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population in the City of Maribyrnong on id community social atlas.

More information

Information on policy and programs, protocols and cultural awareness, key contacts, relevant local data, news and events are available on on the Maggollee website developed by Reconciliation Victoria. 

Our libraries hold a collection of items relating to Australia's Indigenous peoples and culture. These items are available for loan at Maribyrnong Libraries.

“Still Here - a brief history of Aboriginal people in Melbourne's west” was produced in 1996 by the Melbourne Living Museum of the West 

To learn about Welcome to Country and Acknowledgement protocols visit Aboriginal Victoria's website.