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Walk through history

12 Jun 2012

Walk through history Image

When asked about Aboriginal heritage sites, most people will respond with Uluru or the Kimberly. It’s unlikely anyone would think of Southbank, or even Melbourne.

Dean Stewart is changing that. As part of National Reconciliation Week Southbank Local News went “Walkin’ Birrarung” with Dean and discovered many stories of the area that go untold.

Dean points out that in Melbourne, and particularly along the Yarra, there are a number of historical sites with great cultural significance to Aboriginal people, it’s just that not many people know about them.

There is the site and remains of a waterfall that ran across the river where the Queensbridge Rd now crosses, a drain entering under Flinders St Station which was the site of a creek running all the way down Elizabeth St and the sighting of black ravens or wedged-tailed eagles, both of which supplied spiritual guidance for the indigenous people of the area.

The walk is not much further than 100 metres but with Dean’s extensive knowledge and passion for the Aboriginal history of Melbourne and its surrounds, the tour lasted over two hours. The tour group was intrigued by every minor detail Dean knew about the area and the questions come thick and fast.

We learn that two separate groups within the Kulin nation, the Woi wurrung and the Bun wurrung inhabited the area.

Dean said the aim of the tour was to educate people about the history of the place where they lived and worked.

“I had a lady on a previous tour tell me she’d worked in Southbank for five years and had not thought about these things at all. That’s my job, that is what I’m doing this for,” Dean said.

The National Reconciliation Week is a great chance to highlight these walks, which run all year round. It is a worthwhile exercise for anyone who is interested in the history of Southbank, and some of the old portraits of the city from those times need to be seen to be believed.

For more information on the tours head to the Koorie Heritage Trust website www.koorieheritagetrust.com

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