Foreword of the Bunurong people’s Country
Wirribi Yaluk forms the Western most boundary of the Bunurong people. However, these boundaries are not as Europeans understand them now, they are where people’s connection to place changes within the cultural landscape.
Wirribi Yaluk marks a shared boundary with the Wadawurrung people. The Wirribi Yaluk bordered two Bunurong clans at the threshold of European colonisation; the Kurung-Jang-Balluk and Yalukit Willam, with both groups were severely affected by early European colonisation. If you lose enough of something, what little you have left becomes so much more important.
The Bunurong people were amongst the first Indigenous people in Victoria that were involved in cross-cultural entanglements with Europeans, and although they were reduced to just a handful of individuals by the mid-1800s, they are still here. The Bunurong continue to maintain their cultural obligations to care for the people, the flora and fauna, the lands and the waters within the Bunurong cultural landscape, which is alive with our stories.
The Wirribi Yaluk along with the other major water ways within Bunurong Country demonstrate the flow of life, health and purpose. Bunurong Elders today liken these water ways to a life’s journey, from the merest trickle of moisture in the rain, flowing into a creek, to the fast clear rush of a large river that eventually flows to its end at the sea. Bunurong people are salt water people and this connection between the sea and the hinterland is important.
The use of resources along the river followed a seasonal pattern that ebbed and flowed with people’s needs. These resources were shared between the Wadawurrung and the Bunurong people and were mostly harvested in a sustainable way that allowed for future generations to also enjoy these important places. These resources have changed today, but rivers flow with the life force of Country and after heavy rain they cleanse the debris to eventually make the water clear and clean again.
Please join the Bunurong people in creating a future for all our children by helping to care for Country in a way that is more sustainable and that recognises the deep connection of Traditional Owners to this cultural landscape.
A note about Language
In this guide Wirribi Yaluk is used, being the Wadawurrung name for the Werribee River. The Bunurong word for creek is Yallock, and the Bunurong Traditional Owners have kindly supported the use of Yaluk in this document for simplicity. Nerm is the name for Port Phillip Bay for both Bunurong and Wadawurrung Traditional Owners.
From the Lower Werribee Waterways Amenity Action Plan which facilitated the development of this river guide