Wurundjeri relationship to the land

Darebin Heritage - Wurundjeri of Darebin

wurundjeri relationship to the land

All Wurundjeri clan members knew their land in great detail, including the best own, they still maintained relationships with others within their language group. The Wurundjeri's connection to land is underpinned by cultural and spiritual values vastly different to those of the Europeans. The Wurundjeri. and respectful relationships with Aboriginal and Torres. Strait Islander people site in Fitzroy, contact the traditional owners of the land – the Wurundjeri Tribe.

Each clan was governed by a Ngurungaeta pronounced na-run-getta or head-man.

Local Aboriginal history; Wurundjeri Willum People

For thousands of years before European settlement, the country now known as Australia consisted of — Aboriginal nations, each with their own systems of government, cultural practices, religions and languages. Part of the area now known as the City of Melbourne and all of the City of Yarra as well as land extending north into central Victoria are the traditional lands of the Kulin nation.

wurundjeri relationship to the land

The City of Yarra area was looked after by the Wurundjeri-willam family group. They belong to the Wurundjeri-balluk clan, which is part of the larger Wurundjeri tribe.

wurundjeri relationship to the land

The Wurundjeri-willam mainly spoke Woi wurrung language, but also spoke other languages of their nation. Each clan was governed by a Ngurungaeta [pronounced na-run-getta] or head-man. All clan members knew their land in great detail, including the best times to visit each area according to weather and availability of food.

In winter, the Wurundjeri-willam regularly camped in the higher areas as the land near the river flooded. In spring and summer they travelled more frequently, moving between nine and sixteen kilometres a day, hunting and gathering food, and visiting sacred sites.

Local Aboriginal history; Wurundjeri Willum People - Whittlesea Council

The clan heads, or ngurungaeta, were important figures to the Wurundjeri, as they were in other Aboriginal tribes. However the clans were never dictatorships, and decisions that affected the clan were only ever made final after extensive consultation amongst members of the clan. This democratic method and lack of hierarchical structure was unusual to the early white settlers who documented the first contacts with Aboriginals.

It demonstrates a high level of sophistication in Aboriginal culture that was either ignored or not understood by early white chroniclers of Aboriginal culture.

Mapping Melbourne’s Indigenous Past – Geografia Company Blog

Under leaders like Billibellary, the Wurundjeri were able to develop reasonable working relationships with white settlers. While they remained true to their values and customs, they also became guides, messengers and workers in a world that was changing so dramatically around them. Due to the tolerance and wisdom of Aboriginal leaders like Billibellary and Beruke, and the patience and determination of Assistant Protector William Thomas, there was little violence between whites and the Wurundjeri-willam, a marked contrast to the violence and brutality that disgraces much of the early history of white settlement in Australia.

Traditional Aboriginal law forbade marriage within the clan, so the Wurundjeri marriages were often arranged with members of more distant tribes.


These were a way of strengthening ties between clans. The Wurundjeri-willam had forged close marital ties with other Kulin people from the upper Goulburn region.

wurundjeri relationship to the land

Normally the Wurundjeri males would only have one wife, but the clan heads, like Billibellary, often had more than one. The Wurundjeri-willam of today refer to themselves as Wurundjeri.

Bunjil - First Australians

They have suffered from breaks in continuity with their past and have lost touch with aspects of their culture and language as they were forbidden from talking about their culture together. Sources Clark, Ian D. A bend in the Yarra: