Melbourne has a rich history Aboriginal culture as a significant meeting place for social, sporting, educational and cultural events dating back more than 40,000 years.
Visitors can learn the history of the Kulin Nation through unique inner-city experiences to gain a deep understanding of the city’s traditional owners and most revered places of significance to Aboriginal people.
Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens is a significant cultural site for the local Kulin (Koolin) Nation and home to a number of Indigenous experiences that journey into their ancestral lands and explore their rich culture. Visitors can step into the award-winning Blak Box pavilion for SEASONS, an Indigenous deep listening experience from 6 March – 5 April. The multi-part sound work invites audiences to experience climatic and seasonal variation less as a weather event and more as a cultural phenomenon in an award-winning sound pavilion. The Gardens offers a number of experiences throughout the year, including the Royal Botanic Gardens Aboriginal Heritage Walk which takes visitors on a journey through a traditional meeting place and ancestral lands. The walk through these lush surrounds includes a traditional smoking ceremony with an Aboriginal guide who also explains the traditional uses of plants for food, tools and medicine as well as discussing the history and contemporary life of their people. Foodies can delve into the local First People’s rich history, thriving culture and their connection to plants with a Bush Food Experience. Learn how Australian bush foods have inspired the modern plate and palate, and how native plants have been traditionally used and continue to be used around the world today. The Bush Food Experiences is capped off with tastings of delicious canapes inspired by the native plants seen on your walk, developed and prepared by trainee chefs from iconic social enterprise restaurant Charcoal Lane. Birdwood Ave, South Yarra, Victoria, Australia, 3141. (03) 9252 2300.
At the Melbourne Museum, visitors can learn about the diverse and vibrant cultures of Indigenous Australia at the Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre. The centre houses the First Peoples exhibition which is a collection of the many tools and artefacts of Indigenous Australia, cutting-edge digital displays, through to an outdoor garden featuring native plants and eels all in the one location. Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre also offers The First Peoples Tour which is a 1.5 hour guided journey with Aboriginal guides through the First Peoples exhibition. The guides will help uncover the rich Aboriginal history of Victoria from 40,000 years ago to more contemporary history around Aboriginal struggles and triumphs. Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre, Melbourne Museum, 11 Nicholson Street, Carlton, Victoria, Australia, 3053.
Located at Federation Square in Melbourne’s city centre, The Koorie Heritage Trust was set up to protect, preserve and promote the living culture of Indigenous peoples from Australia’s south east. The Koorie Heritage Trust holds an extensive collection of Koorie artworks and objects, art exhibitions, a gift shop and conducts tours with Aboriginal guides. Birrarung Wilam (River Camp) Walk covers local Aboriginal culture against a backdrop of Melbourne’s most iconic landmarks. One of these landmarks is the Birrarung Wilam (Common Ground) which was a significant meeting place for the Kulin Nation, past Aboriginal art installations where visitors can learn about the Aboriginal history of the Birrarung Marr (Yarra River) and the Aboriginal Peoples of the Kulin Nation. The Scar Tree Walk is a cultural journey that connects traditional and contemporary Aboriginal cultures and histories of the local Kulin Peoples from Federation Square to the culturally protected heritage site that surrounds the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Levels 1 & 3, The Yarra Building, Federation Square, Cnr Swanston & Flinders Streets, Melbourne, Victoria, 3000.
The Ian Potter Centre at Federation Square is the world’s first major gallery dedicated exclusively to Australian art, and features a suite of galleries showcasing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art. With free entry to the permanent exhibitions, the NGV collection of Australian art comprises more than 20,000 works. Approximately 800 works are displayed in the new building at one time, and many of these will be rotated frequently to show the full breadth and diversity of Australian art, and to provide visitors with fresh insights. Corner Flinders Street and Russell Street, Federation Square, Melbourne, Victoria, 3000. (03) 8620 2222.
Fitzroy’s Charcoal Lane dishes up gourmet native Australian flavours by young Aboriginal people who are in need of a fresh start in life. A Mission Australia social enterprise restaurant, Charcoal Lane specialises in fine-dining bush fare. The aim of the program is to create a skilled workforce for the hospitality industry, providing leadership and mentoring to help vulnerable young people achieve their potential and gain long-term independence and sustainable mainstream employment. 136 Gertrude St, Fitzroy, Victoria, 3065. (03) 9418 3400.
After earning a reputation as a catering company dishing up fresh, seasonal and native fare, Mabu Mabu has opened its first permanent offering in Melbourne’s inner-west neighbourhood of Yarraville. Originally from Mer Island in the Torres Strait, head chef Nornie Bero uses a variety of indigenous herbs, fruits, succulents and spices to create a truly Australian cuisine. Named after a Torres Strait term that translates to ‘help yourself’, Mabu Mabu celebrates Indigenous cultural with contemporary Indigenous flavours in a compact brunch-to-lunch menu that bring people together. 13 Anderson St, Yarraville, Victoria, Australia, 3013.
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