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Tom Mosby
Koorie Heritage Trust

One of the best ways to get to know a city in a hurry is to brush up on its history. A visit to some significant Aboriginal sites will put Victoria's history in context and also reveal an intriguing contemporary culture. Tom Mosby, Indigenous Australian and CEO of the Koorie Heritage Trust, leads the way.

According to Tom, Victoria's Aboriginal people continue to draw on ancestral traditions, many of which are particularly distinctive to this part of Australia. Walking tours by Aboriginal guides, through the Koorie Heritage Trust and the Royal Botanic Gardens, tell you the stories behind some of these traditions. 

Follow-up a walking tour to other significant Aboriginal sites in Melbourne, including scar trees (old gum trees that have had canoes cut from them) in Yarra Park near the MCG, and the art installations examining aspects of Victorian Aboriginal history in the parklands along the Yarra River at Birrarung Marr.

Aboriginal art

Tom points out that Victorian Aboriginal art is different to the dot art familiar to international visitors. He says, 'Traditional designs in Victoria are line based, featuring designs such as diamond shapes.' The traditions of eel farming and possum skin cloak making are also distinctly Victorian. 

In fact, modern Victorian Aboriginal art is incredibly diverse and includes contemporary styles like stencil art and installations. Painting and sculpture are common, as is the revival of traditional craft techniques such as shield carving and basket weaving.

To see traditional Aboriginal art alongside more modern contributions, check out the three galleries at the Koorie Heritage Trust. You'll get glimpses of treasures from the collection, artwork by iconic Victorian artists, and new works by emerging young artists.

Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre at Melbourne Museum has a gallery space dedicated to Victorian Aboriginal art, as well as a new innovative permanent exhibition called First Peoples, which tells first hand stories of Victorian Aboriginal people and their living culture.

Tom recommends you stay tuned for the Koori Night Market, a pop-up market featuring art and craft by Indigenous Australians. In summer, keep your eye out for art around the Melbourne city centre as part of the annual Victorian Indigenous Art Award, showcasing works by leading Victorian Aboriginal artists.

Tom's final tip is to cap off your immersion into Victoria's Aboriginal culture with a meal at Charcoal Lane in Gertrude Street, Fitzroy, which serves gourmet meals featuring Indigenous ingredients as well as offering hospitality training to young Indigenous Australians.

Tom's Aboriginal art top tips

Tom Mosby names the best city spots for checking out contemporary and traditional local Aboriginal art:

Koorie Heritage Trust

Koorie Heritage Trust Inc.

'You can get Aboriginal books, CDs, and art and craft at the Koorie Heritage Trust, including books featuring Victorian Aboriginal language.'

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Culture Secrets - Bunjilaka, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Bunjilaka

'Bunjilaka Cultural Centre at Melbourne Museum has a gallery space dedicated to Victorian Aboriginal art.'

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Looking towards the city of Melbourne through the mesh wall of the building

The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia

'The National Gallery of Victoria has some excellent examples of Indigenous art from all over Australia.'

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A sense of Indigenous culture

To get a sense of Indigenous culture around Victoria, Tom suggests heading to the Aboriginal run cultural centres:

Brambuk Aboriginal Cultural Centre

Brambuk - The National Park & Cultural Centre

Tom Mosby recommends a visit to Brambuk in the Grampians to get a sense of Indigenous culture in Melbourne and Victoria.

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Culture Secrets - Bunjilaka, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Bunjilaka

'Bunjilaka Cultural Centre also has a permanent exhibition on Victorian Aboriginal culture, with lots of stories told directly by Victorian Aboriginal people.'

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Interior

Krowathunkoolong Keeping Place

Tom Mosby recommends a visit to Krowathunkoolong in Gippsland to get a sense of Indigenous culture in Melbourne and Victoria.

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Narana Creations

Narana Creations

Tom Mosby recommends a visit to Narana Creations in the Great Ocean Road region to get a sense of Indigenous culture in Melbourne and Victoria.

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