World heritage secured for Budj Bim

Article image - World heritage secured for Budj Bim Budj Bim joins the Great Barrier Reef, Sydney Opera House and Kakadu National Park to be Australia’s 20th icon on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Photograph courtesy Visit Victoria.

The protection of one of Australia’s most important indigenous cultural sites has been secured with this month’s historic UNESCO World Heritage listing.

Glenelg Shire Council Mayor, Anita Rank, said the inscription of the Budj Bim Cultural Landscape, in southwest Victoria, announced on 6 July by the United Nation’s governing body in Baku, positioned the site as the first listed exclusively in Australia for its Aboriginal cultural value.

“Budj Bim will forever be etched in the nation’s storybook because of this history making decision.

“It is an important step in protecting the cultural heritage of this unique landscape, ensuring the storytelling of the Gunditjmara people is embedded in our history ... in the nation’s history, for generations to come.

“Importantly, this listing will assist to preserve the culture of this land and ensure sustainable development in the future, whilst progressing the continuing path of reconciliation.”

The Budj Bim Cultural Landscape spans almost 100 square kilometres and features what is believed to be the world’s oldest freshwater aquaculture systems, pre-dating the Egyptian pyramids.

The landscape includes evidence of a large nomadic society who built stone huts across the wetlands, with remnants still evident across the landscape today.

The UNESCO committee said that it was a ‘wonderful nomination’, which highlighted a unique understanding of nature and sustainable development.

Thanking the committee chair in Baku following the historic decision, traditional owner Denis Rose said the outcome had been a whole of community effort.

“For us to get to this stage it’s been a long journey but I’d like to acknowledge our Gunditjmara ancestors who have led the way for us. We know they are still here with us, their ingenuity still shows in the aquaculture systems that are still operational to this day.”

The Mayor said the announcement would assist to secure future jobs for the region, with hundreds of visitors expected to visit the landscape daily due to the global exposure.

She said major investment, including $13 million from the State Government, was being used to build critical tourism infrastructure to cope with demand.

“This announcement is an important and critical step in building the profile of indigenous tourism product in Australia, assisting to share this unique story with a global audience.”