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Conference paper

What the stones tell us?

Aboriginal stone sites, Indigenous landscapes and country’s in the face of urban sprawl

18 Jun 2018


This paper considers the interconnection of Aboriginal stone sites in the Wadawurrung Country, as to their landscape relationships and land use planning contexts. With colonial pastoralism and land exploitation by European, and more recently suburbanisation encroachment, a large portion of the pre-colonial tangible landscape has been erased, disfigured and or transformed. Despite this, there remains vestiges of Aboriginal designed landscapes composed of symbolic and or functional rock installations on these Country’s, with several possessing major intangible knowledge as to role, purpose and significance. Because Aboriginal landscapes are mostly intangible, consciously organised stone sites and site installations represent a direct representation of Indigenous culture and community and their Country. Because of their subtle, low-key nature and visual absorption within landscape, these installations and sites are under threat from urban sprawl, despite land use planning registrations and risk assessment protocols that formally position Recognised Aboriginal Parties as the custodians (as well as conservers) of the physical and living heritage of these places. This paper considers Wurdi Youang, an Aboriginal stone arrangement site that is experiencing urban development risks and a new era in ownership. The paper considers the concepts of cultural significance, Traditional Owners, Aboriginal site legislation, planning regimes, and landscape re-invention due to farming and urban sprawl. It is through the understanding of the utilisation of ‘on-Country’ cultural relations and Indigenous landscape control techniques that are adaptive to the changes of environment, movement of seasons, population invasion and expansion, and cultural change one can lead towards an environmentally and culturally sensitive relationship with Aboriginal peoples.

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