Hit the Bataluk Cultural Trail and get an insight into 30,000 years of Indigenous Gunaikurnai history and culture. Hear dreamtime stories, see scarred trees, weapons, relics and sacred sites, and learn about the traditional lifestyles of the first inhabitants of the Gippsland region.
Follow the route that takes its name from the Gunaikurnai word for lizard as it winds its way across the Gippsland region. Travel from Won Wron in the west through Mitchell River National Park and on to Cape Conran in the east.
The paths, which have become the Princes and South Gippsland Highways, form the backbone of the original network of Indigenous trails and trading routes that spanned the Gippsland region. Experience this remarkable journey from end to end or design a route that suits your interests and available time.
White Woman's Waterhole
Won Wron State Forest – Bratwoloong country
Visit this site in the Won Wron Forest and hear the legend of the lost white woman. Local folklore has it that in the 1840s a young woman, the sole survivor of a shipwreck off the nearby Ninety Mile Beach, was taken and held captive by the local tribe of Bratwoloong. The story soon developed a life of its own, spawning numerous myths and violent conflicts. The woman, if she ever existed, was never found.
Sale Common State Game Reserve
From tree bark, birds and honey to seeds and possums, the wetlands were like a supermarket for the Gunaikurnai people. Stroll around Lake Guthridge to the Sale Common boardwalks and discover the numerous plants and wildlife, which provided food, medicines and hardware for the local people.
Den of Nargun
Mitchell River National Park
Visit the Den of Nargun, a sacred site on the Mitchell River. This place is of great cultural significance for Gurnikurnai women, who were thought to take part in initiation ceremonies here. A nargun was believed by the Gurnaikurnai people to be a large creature who lived in the cave behind the waterfall and stories were told around the campfire about how the nargun would abduct children who wandered from camp.
Travel to the site where the Gurnaikurnai people would harvest eels, collect fruit, roots and mussels and make bark canoes. Check out the four-metre long scar on the 'canoe tree', believed to be around 170 years old.
The Knob Reserve
This bluff high above a bend in the Dooyeedang (Avon River) has been a major campsite and meeting place for the Gunaikurnai people for centuries. Stand on the bluff and see the deep grooves where the axe heads were sharpened on the ancient sandstone grinding stones.
Burnt Bridge Reserve
Lake Tyers Forest Park
Explore what was once a 'bush pantry' for the Aboriginal people. Learn how the local people collected everything they needed, from plants for food and medicine to the materials required to make baskets, nets, tools and weapons.
Take a walk to one of the last remaining sites of the Ramahyuck Mission Station, once a sprawling 200 acre property. In the early 1860s, the Moravian missionary, Frederick Hagenauer established a mission station on the Avon River. He named it Ramahyuck meaning 'our home' (Ramah being Hebrew for 'home' and Yuck being Aboriginal for 'our'). Here, the Gurnaikurnai had to give up their culture and tribal customs in exchange for protection, food and Christianity.
Krowathunkooloong Keeping Place
Go back in time at the Krowathunkooloong Keeping Place, a museum housing a vast collection of artifacts and indigenous art. Learn about the history, heritage and culture of Aboriginal East Gippsland and wander through displays featuring traditional shields, boomerangs, bark canoes, grass baskets, and contemporary aboriginal artworks.
Wander along the boardwalk on the shore of Bancroft Bay and see Legend Rock. An important site in Gurnakurnai mythology, the local legend tells of three fishermen being turned to stone as punishment for their greed. There were originally three rocks, but today only one remains after two were destroyed during road construction in the 1960s.
Make the trip to the limestone caves at Buchan and hear the Aboriginal stories of the wicked and mischievous Nyols which lived in the caves below the earth. Artifacts and evidence of Aboriginal occupation from 18,000 years ago in the Buchan Caves make them one of the oldest Ice Age cave sites in south east Australia.
Salmon Rock and Gunai Boardwalk
Hit the coast and head to the viewing platform at Salmon Rock, built above an Aboriginal shell midden dating back 10,000 years. A shell midden denotes a special site or meeting place where people have gathered regularly for many generations to feast, celebrate and perform traditional ceremonies.
For more information on the Bataluk Cultural Trail, please visit batalukculturaltrail.com.au
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