Budj Bim

World Heritage Nomination Dossier

Victorian Government (in partnership with the Australian Government and Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owners Corporation)

Budj Bim, Victoria

The Budj Bim Cultural Landscape is located in the traditional Country of the Gunditjmara Aboriginal people in south-eastern Australia.

The three serial components of the property contain one of the world’s most extensive and oldest aquaculture systems.  Here, Aboriginal people used the abundant local volcanic rock to construct fish traps, weirs and ponds to manage water flows from nearby Lake Condah to exploit short finned eels (Anguilla australis) and other fish as a food source.

The highly productive system provided a six millennia-long economic and social base for Gunditjmara society. This deep time interrelationship of Gunditjmara cultural and environmental systems is documented through present-day Gunditjmara cultural knowledge, practices, material culture, scientific research and historical documents. It is evidenced in the aquaculture system itself and in the interrelated geological, hydrological and ecological systems.

The Australian Government, in partnership with Aboriginal Victoria (AV) and the Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation (GMTOAC) engaged Context to develop a full World Heritage nomination dossier to the UNESCO World Heritage Centre for the Budj Bim Cultural Landscape. The nomination built on earlier Desktop Comparative Analysis carried out by Context in 2013, which presented a strong argument for the potential Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of Budj Bim and the inclusion of Budj Bim on Australia’s Tentative List.

Responsible for managing the project and delivering the nomination dossier, Context’s Chris Johnston worked closely with GMTOAC and heritage specialists Dr Steve Brown, Dr Ian McNiven, Dr Anita Smith and Kristal Buckley.

Upon the approval by Federal Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg, the dossier was lodged with the World Heritage Centre in February 2018.

On 6 July 2019, at its 43rd session in Baku (Azerbaijan), the World Heritage Committee inscribed the Budj Bim Cultural Landscape on the World Heritage List. This monumental inscription makes Budj Bim Australia’s first site World Heritage-listed solely for Indigenous cultural values and the  20th Australian property on the World Heritage List.

Image: Drone image of kooyang weir with characteristic gap to accommodate woven basket, photographer Tyson Lovett Murray (GMTOAC 2017)