Meyer Eidelson is the author of Melbourne Dreaming: A Guide to Important Places of the Past and Present (Aboriginal Studies Press, $29.95) available now from good bookstores or on-line from Aboriginal Studies Press (type title and Aboriginal Studies Press into Google)
Insiders’ guide to Melbourne Aboriginal heritage sites
FITZROY ABORIGINAL HISTORY WALK: Gertrude Street, known as the Black Mile from the 1940s to the 90s, was Melbourne’s Redfern. The walk includes 16 sites, with plaques on significant buildings that tell the story of the radical organisations and movements created here by the Aboriginal community and famous leaders such as Doug Nicholls that profoundly influenced political and cultural reform in Australia; yarracity.vic.gov.au.
NGARGEE TREE, ST KILDA: Near the corner of Fitzroy and Queens streets, St Kilda, is one of Melbourne’s oldest living residents — a river red gum tree estimated to be up to 500 years old. The local Boon Wurrung people were recorded camping nearby during the 1840s and the tree remains an important focus for reconciliation activities; weekendnotes.com/the-corroboree-tree-st-kilda.
BUNJILAKA: Bunjilaka is the Aboriginal cultural centre created at Melbourne Museum in 2000 to empower indigenous people to interpret their own cultural heritage with galleries, workshops and talks. There are more than 600 historic and contemporary artefacts, and a stunning new permanent exhibition, First Peoples, depicts stories of culture, identity and survival; museumvictoria.com.au/bunjilaka.
MERRI CREEK MISSION SCHOOL: Dights Falls Park in Collingwood is a strikingly beautiful location at the junction of Merri Creek and the Yarra River. It was a highly popular meeting place for the Melbourne Aboriginal clans in the 1840s and the site of a mission school, native police camp and the burial site of Billibellary, a famous clan leader.
MELBOURNE CRICKET GROUND: Yarra Park is a former Aboriginal corroboree area, and once the site of the Native Police Corps barracks. Two scarred “canoe” trees can be found in the park east of Gate Four. The MCG is the home of football, a form of which, known as marngrook, was played by Aboriginal people and commemorated by an annual match for the Marngrook Trophy; mcg.org.au.
SUNBURY EARTH RINGS: On the northeast outskirts of Melbourne are five rare Aboriginal earth rings, located in the Jackson Creek Valley and believed to have been for religious or ceremonial uses. Locations include east of Wirilda Court and 76 Fullwood Drive. The rings consist of circular hollows 15m to 25m in diameter formed by the removal of topsoil which was then piled in a circular ridge.