Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Victorian cultural sites handed back to traditional owners

Joint Media Release with:

  • Dr Dawn Casey,
    Chairperson, Indigenous Land Corporation

    Rob Mitchell MP
    Member for McEwen

The Australian Government, through the Indigenous Land Corporation, today handed back to Wurundjeri people the title of two properties that protect significant Indigenous cultural sites in Victoria.

The Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, presented to the Wurundjeri people the titles to the Mt William Axe Quarry west of Kilmore and the Sunbury Earthen Rings to the north west of Tullamarine Airport at a ceremony near Kilmore.

The Wurundjeri Tribe and Land Compensation and Cultural Heritage Council Inc will now take ownership of the land, and ensure the long-term preservation of significant cultural heritage.

The 7.5 hectare Mt William Axe Quarry property had been gifted to the Indigenous Land Corporation (ILC) in September 1997 by the Macedon Ranges Shire Council, while the 9.1 hectare Sunbury Earthen Rings property was acquired by the ILC in December 2000.

Ms Macklin said today’s ceremony recognised the cultural significance of the sites to all Wurundjeri people.

“Green stone axes from Mt William were traditionally traded by Aboriginal people over a wide area of south-eastern Australia before European settlers arrived in the area,” Ms Macklin said.

“The site contains the remains of hundreds of mining pits where Wurundjeri people obtained the green stone to make axe heads.

“The amazing earthen rings at the Sunbury property may be more than 1000 years old, and were an important part of traditional ceremonies for Wurundjeri people.

“The Wurundjeri people were the original custodians of these sites, and it is only fitting that they are now returned to them.”

ILC Chairperson Dr Dawn Casey said it was appropriate that current generations of Wurundjeri people maintain and manage the cultural sites.

“The acquisitions of these sites provide Indigenous training opportunities in land management and enable the transfer of cultural knowledge from elders to youth,” Dr Casey said.

“The Wurundjeri Tribe Land and Compensation Cultural Heritage Council has secured financial sustainability through its work as heritage consultants and cultural advisors in Victoria. The organisation is recognised as Cultural Advisors for the region as a direct result of their association with these important land holdings.”

The Member for McEwen, Rob Mitchell, said Mt William was internationally recognised as a significant site.

“Mt William is well documented in archaeological literature and is protected under both Australian and Victorian government heritage legislation,” Mr Mitchell said.

“The Sunbury site is now registered as a cultural heritage site of significance on the Aboriginal Affairs Victoria Cultural Heritage Register, and is protected under Victorian Government heritage legislation.

“These are important sites for all of us to respect and protect.”