Aboriginal Yarra

Wominjeka, welcome to Wurundjeri country

Wominjeka, welcome! We warmly invite you to watch the above video, which features Wurundjeri Elder Uncle Colin Hunter Jnr. performing a Welcome to Country ceremony on the beautiful banks of Birrarung (the Yarra River).

Here you can learn about Yarra's Traditional Owners and the broader Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. There's information on how to get involved and links to news, events and celebrations in the local Aboriginal community.

What is a Welcome to Country?

Welcome to Country is a traditional ceremony, which has been performed for tens of thousands of years in the local area. The ceremony welcomes you onto the land, asks you to show respect to the land, offers you the use of resources while on the land, and also offers to keep you safe while on the land.

About the Wurundjeri people

The area now known as the City of Yarra stands on the traditional lands of the Wurundjeri people. Their connection to the land and its waterways extends back tens of thousands of years to the beginning of time when their creator spirit Bunjil formed the land and all living things.

The settlement and development of Melbourne impacted heavily on the Wurundjeri. From the 1830s, dispossession of land, dislocation, frontier clashes and introduced diseases led to a dramatic decline in the population.

Despite these impacts, the Wurundjeri survived and the strong bonds between families and clans could not be broken. It is a testament to the ongoing strength of the Wurundjeri people that Wurundjeri Elders continue to make us welcome on their traditional lands, in spite of our history.

To learn more about the Aboriginal history of the area visit our dedicated website, The Aboriginal History of Yarra.

History of Yarra's broader Aboriginal community

As well as the Wurundjeri, there are many other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who are connected to the local area. From the 1920s onwards, the suburb of Fitzroy in particular became an important meeting place for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples from tribes around Victoria and beyond.

By the 1950s, Fitzroy supported a community of more than 300 Aboriginal people, with many living in surrounding inner city suburbs. Fitzroy not only became the largest Aboriginal community in Victoria, it also became the social and political hub of Aboriginal Melbourne.

From the 1950s onwards, it became the birthplace of important Aboriginal organisations, a centre for political activism and a meeting place for Aboriginal people to link-in with family, community and services.

It was also here in Fitzroy that many people from the Stolen Generations (people forcibly separated from family and community under racist government policies) found family and community.

Aboriginal Yarra today

In recent years, the area has changed rapidly and rising property prices have pushed many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples (and others) further north. In spite of this, Yarra is still a preferred place for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to live, meet up, work and access services.

At Yarra, we deeply value the contribution Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have made and continue to make to the area.

We have a strong commitment to the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and are always thinking about new ways that we can work with, support, learn from and celebrate the local Aboriginal community, and the broader Aboriginal community connected to the area.

Learn more about the Aboriginal history of Yarra

Whether you're a visitor, resident, school student or teacher, our Aboriginal History of Yarra website provides a range of ways for you to learn more about our local history.

Here you will find downloadable local history publications, a teacher's resource, videos and a map of significant sites in the area. We encourage you to visit, learn, engage and refer it on to other interested people.

January 26 in Yarra

We decided to change the way we are commemorate our national holiday to be more inclusive and sensitive to Aboriginal experiences. Find out more.

Want to get involved?

If you are a local Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person who wants to get involved, share your ideas, connect with what we're doing, or let us know what we could be doing better, please get in touch.

We'd love to hear from you! Contact Yarra City Council.

Connecting with the Aboriginal history of Yarra - a teachers' resource

We offer a free history resource for local schools called Connecting with the Aboriginal History of Yarra: A Teachers' Resource.

This resource was developed with support from local schools, the Wurundjeri Council and other local Elders.

It was written for students in years 3-10, and focuses on cross-curriculum priorities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories.

All content has been approved by the Traditional Owners and other local Elders.

It also includes suggestions for excursions to sites of historical significance in Yarra and beyond.

We plan to update and develop the resource over time and welcome feedback from local teachers, principals and Aboriginal community members. Contact us here.

Yalinguth app

Yalinguth is an immersive audio experience. It’s a walking tour app connecting you to the important Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history of Gertrude Street, in Melbourne’s iconic Fitzroy.

In the Woi Wurrung language Yalinguth means “yesterday”, and echoes the sentiments of many Elders that “we need to go back, before we can go forwards”.

A Yalinguth walk is made up of spoken stories, songs, poems, and atmospheric soundscapes. You’ll hear the birdsong that once filled the Melbourne air, the sound of a local protest recorded years ago in that location, and musicians and storytellers such as Uncle Jack Charles and Uncle Archie Roach.

Find out more about the Yalinguth app and audio experience on our Heritage Walks page.

Related documents

In 2019, the name of the Aboriginal Partnerships Plan was changed to Yana Ngargna Plan. Yana Ngargna is a Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung phrase meaning ‘continuing connection’.

This refers to the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung’s continuing connection to culture, country and identity—as well as Yarra’s commitment to developing continuing connections with Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, communities and organisations.

Since 2000, Yarra's work with the local Aboriginal community has been guided by a policy called the Aboriginal Partnerships Plan. A new plan is developed every 4 years through extensive consultation with the local community.

This plan is managed by our Aboriginal Partnerships Plan officer who reports bimonthly on its delivery to our Aboriginal Advisory Group.

Our Reconciliation Action Plan working group

We also manage a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) working group consisting of our staff.

The RAP working group meets monthly to share progress on our projects, support each other and build the organisation's cultural competency. This ensures a coordinated approach to our work with the local Aboriginal community. If you would like a copy you can request it from us by calling 9205 5555.