Aboriginal cultural heritage of Victoria
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; obtaining sustenance, 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.
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; places where the first contacts between European and Aboriginal people occurred, massacre sites, missions, protectorate stations, properties where Aboriginal pastoral workers played vital roles and, in more recent times, places associated with the Aboriginal rights movement and contemporary places with ongoing uses and associations.
Underpinning these material aspects of Aboriginal cultural heritage are intangible 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, or trade and travel routes. Information about such places may be passed down from one generation to the next or may survive in nineteenth century documents and records.
The endurance of Aboriginal society across the continent is of global significance and the cultural heritage places and objects associated with that society are a significant part of the heritage of all Australians. They are a fundamental part of Victorian Aboriginal community life and cultural identity.