Throughout Victoria, even in the most intensively developed regions, the landscape holds the imprint of thousands of generations of Aboriginal people.
Each part of Victoria, from the coast to the high country and from the semi-arid Mallee to the rain forests of the east, has places where Aboriginal people lived, ate, were expressing themselves artistically, passing on creation stories and cultural values, engaging in conflict, establishing alliances and social networks, trading goods, celebrating rites of passage and committing the departed to their final resting places.
Arrival of Europeans
The arrival of Europeans in Victoria has had a dramatic and significant impact on the nature of Aboriginal occupation and use of the land.
Locations where the first contacts between European and Aboriginal people occurred mean that different cultural heritage places were created, such as missions and protectorate stations. Other locations have become significant as sites where massacres of Aboriginal people took place.
Properties where Aboriginal people lived and worked also became important cultural heritage places.
In recent times, places such as those associated with the Aboriginal rights movement have become important cultural heritage places.
The Victorian Government is committed to acknowledging the truth of Victoria's history, including the impacts of colonisation on Aboriginal cultural heritage. The Yoo-rrook Justice Commission has been established as the nation's first truth-telling process. It has a broad mandate to investigate historic and ongoing systemic injustices committed against Aboriginal Victorians by State and non-State entities since colonisation, across all areas of social, political and economic life.
For further information on the Yoo-rrook Justice Commission, please visit the Commission's website or the Truth and Justice in page.
Ceremonial and spiritual places
There are also cultural heritage places where there may be no physical evidence of past cultural activities.
- places of spiritual or ceremonial significance
- places where traditional plant or mineral resources occur
- trade and travel routes
Information about such places may be passed down from one generation to the next or have been recorded in nineteenth century documents and records.
What are Aboriginal places and objects?
Aboriginal people have lived in southern Australia, including what is now Victoria, for thousands of years. During that time, the people living in these regions left physical evidence of their activities that now survive as cultural heritage places and objects.
Where are they located?
Aboriginal places and objects can be found all over Victoria and are often near major food sources such as rivers, lakes, swamps and the coast.
Aboriginal places and objects can also be found on private property. First Peoples - State Relations works in partnership with landowners, land managers and Aboriginal communities to record, protect and manage these places and objects.
Aboriginal cultural heritage fact sheets
The Aboriginal cultural heritage fact sheets provide information about the types of Aboriginal cultural heritage found in Victoria.
- Aboriginal Scar Trees
- Aboriginal mounds
- Aboriginal freshwater middens
- Aboriginal flaked stone tools
- Aboriginal burials
- Aboriginal surface scatters
- Aboriginal quarries
- Aboriginal ground-edge axes
- Aboriginal grinding stones
- Aboriginal stone arrangements
- Aboriginal axe-grinding grooves
- Aboriginal coastal shell middens
- Aboriginal rock art
- Aboriginal historical places
- Aboriginal places on private property
What if I have found an Aboriginal place or objects?
The Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006requires that the discovery of Aboriginal cultural heritage places or objects on any public or private land in Victoria be reported to First Peoples - State Relations. Landowners who suspect they have discovered Aboriginal cultural heritage on their land can find out what to do on Report and protect a possible Aboriginal place or object.
How do I find out if there is a recorded Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Place on my property?
To find out whether your property has any recorded Aboriginal cultural heritage places or sites, such as scarred trees, occupation sites or places of burial, you will need to access the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage .
Landowners are authorised to access the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Register but need to apply for . Applicants will then be contacted by the Heritage Registrar.
You can also phone the Heritage Registry on 1800 762 003 to ask for an application form to be posted to you.
Resources and publications
A guide to shells commonly found in Victorian Aboriginal shell middens
Scarred trees: An identification and recording manual
Aboriginal stone structures in southwestern Victoria
Guidelines for conducting and reporting on Aboriginal cultural heritage investigations (other than cultural heritage management plans)
Reviewed 06 October 2021