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Conference paper


The contemporary Melbourne landscape is usually defined in a physical sense. The complex cultural landscape, however incorporates not only the physical, but also what’s beneath, on and above the surface, including the sky and the cosmos. These cultural landscapes form essential components of a Wurundjeri person’s identity and connection to ‘Country’, the Traditional Custodians of Melbourne. Firmly imbedded within Wurundjeri identity is our language, Woiwurrung. Many places, buildings, programs, etc., in Melbourne are now named in language. But, what is the significance and relevance of this to not only Wurundjeri people, but also the wider community? What other ways can they engage with Wurundjeri through language? Language is the key to understanding culture; culture is like a tree; language its roots; if you cut the roots the tree dies. Creation Narratives incorporating language is another way that Wurundjeri express identity. Many of these narratives relate to the cosmos, the creation of the durt (stars), Tharangalk (Bunjil’s home), how the emu sisters became the Pleiades, and how Bunjil himself is part of the Aquila (eagle) constellation like in Greek mythology. In Melbourne, the durt are flooded out by the artificial lights, the ground is covered by artificial infrastructure, so if we cannot physically see the stars or feel the dirt beneath our feet, how do we remain culturally connected? This paper explores how the re-making of Melbourne’s landscape affects Wurundjeri ability, as Traditional Custodians, to find, connect and reconnect to our cultural narratives and identity.

Publication Details
Source Title: 
Proceedings of the 14th Australasian Urban History Planning History Conference 2018
Published year only: 
Geographic Coverage