Protecting Cultural Heritage at Yarra Bend Park
Wednesday 28 July 2021
Yarra’s rich cultural heritage had a big win after Yarra Bend Park was listed on the Victorian Heritage Register in April 2021.
The park is now of State-level historical and archaeological significance under the Heritage Act 2017, which includes all land, trees, plantings, parkland, roads and paths, and the historic buildings and archaeological deposits associated with them. Aboriginal people have held a deep cultural connection with the landscape around Yarra Bend Park for tens of thousands of years. It is already an Aboriginal place of significance and protected under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006. The new listing on the Heritage Register means that approval is required before starting any activities that could potentially alter or destroy the park and its artefacts.
Yarra Bend Park is located on the convergence of the Merri Creek and Birrarung (Yarra River). Yarra Bend Park was a significant place of contact and negotiation between the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people and non-Aboriginal people in the early years of Victoria’s colonial history.
It was home to institutions like the Merri Creek Protectorate Station, Merri Creek Aboriginal School, Native Police Corps Headquarters, Yarra Bend Lunatic Asylum, Fairhaven Venereal Disease Clinic and Fairlea Women’s Prison. The park also provides recreation opportunities through its open parkland, walking tracks and sporting grounds.Yarra Bend Park is well preserved, so there is a high chance of finding archaeological deposits relating to this period in Yarra’s history and beyond.