Prior to European settlement within what is now known as Victoria, there were around 38 separate language groupings, and within each of these large connected language groups were many clans.
Each clan or family group exists by virtue of descent from the creation ancestors, with membership of a particular clan given at birth. People retain clan membership for life, even if they move away and live in other areas or in cities. Across Victoria social, cultural and political uniqueness of each group continues to exist.
The traditional lands of many groups extend into what are now two states. For example, in northeastern Victoria the traditional lands of both the Wemba Wemba and Yorta Yorta peoples lie on both sides of the Murray River.
Tribal boundaries are recognised today and are the basis of native title claims under the Commonwealth Governments Native Title Act. In a historic move the Yorta Yorta people lodged the first native title claim in Victoria under the Commonwealth Governments Native Title Act 1993.
The Gunai Kurnai Clan Group of Gippsland
In Victorias Gippsland region there are a number of clan groups of the Gunai Kurnai, ranging in location from South Gippsland to the Snowy River. The Gippsland and East Gippsland Aboriginal Cooperative in Bairnsdale operates the Krowathunkooloong Keeping Place, which displays artefacts and history of the Gunai Kurnai.
The Kulin Nation of central Victoria
The Kulin Nation of central Victoria is composed of five tribes that share adjoining territories: the Woiworung, Boonwurrung, Wathaurung, Taungurong and Djaja Wurrung. Each tribe is broken down into smaller units called clans. The Wurundjeri is part of the Woiwurung who occupied the area defined by the Yarra River and its tributaries. Six clans made up the Bunerong tribe and they occupied the area that is today the southern suburbs of Melbourne south of Mordiallic Creek and a small coastal strip around the top of Port Phillip Bay. Groups extend to Victorias Western district.