Our First Nations history

Manningham Council acknowledges the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung people as the Traditional Owners of the land and waterways now known as Manningham.

Council pays respect to Elders past, present and emerging, and values the ongoing contribution to enrich and appreciate the cultural heritage of Manningham.

Council acknowledges and respects Australia’s First Peoples as Traditional Owners of lands and waterways across Country, and encourages reconciliation between all.

Manningham Council values the contribution made to Manningham over the years by people of diverse backgrounds and cultures.

The following information has been written in consultation with the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation.


The role of local government in Reconciliation

Local Government plays a key role in activating Reconciliation within local communities by:

  • playing a leadership role in creating meaningful relationships
  • recognising and supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander self-determination and cultural rights
  • building understanding of our shared history
  • celebrating, recognising and respecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural heritages
  • providing our local community and the education sector with an opportunity to take an active part in the process of Reconciliation
  • offering public programs, projects and events
  • providing accessible services; and
  • being a proactive employer and procurer of services.

Council articulates how this can be achieved through a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP). 


Manningham Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP)

The Manningham Innovate RAP 2023-25 has been developed in partnership with Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Corporation, local First Nations peoples, local residents, Reconciliation Action Plan Working Group and Reconciliation Australia.

Council is committed to fostering respect for and understanding of First Nations cultures, histories, knowledge and rights throughout our organisation and the municipality.

The Reconciliation Action Plan Working Group will monitor the implementation of the RAP along with Reconciliation Australia.

In 2019, Council established regular Cultural Consultations with Elders and staff of the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation (the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Corporation).

As the Registered Aboriginal Party for Manningham, the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Corporation plays a key role in decision making for and protection of cultural heritage and as such are recognised as the primary guardians, keepers and knowledge holders of Aboriginal Cultural Heritage.

The regular Cultural Consultations with Elders provide Council with an opportunity to ensure our projects, services and systems work towards progressing reconciliation.


Manningham Reconciliation Action Plan
Manningham Reconciliation Action Plan
2.52 MB



First Nations history in Manningham

The East Kulin Nation have lived in the area now known as Melbourne, for more than 65,000 years harnessing the rich resources of the Yarra River and surrounding bush lands and ranges. Part of the East Kulin Nation are the Wurundjeri people who spoke the Woi-wurrung language who are the Traditional Owners of Manningham.

Wurundjeri people called the Yarra River "Birrarung" – 'river of mists and shadows'. The Birrarung was central to the traditional Country of the Wurundjeri willam people. Throughout Manningham, Wurundjeri people lived near the Birrarung and its tributaries, caring for the many culturally significant places in the area. The Yarra Flats in Manningham are associated with the accomplishments of creation ancestors and spiritual beings. Bolin Bolin Billabong in Bulleen was an important living and eel fishing area, a place which Wurundjeri people requested for their reserved use in 1840. It remained an important living area and visiting place for Wurundjeri people returning from lyrebird hunting in the Yarra Ranges into the 1850s.

For thousands of years the Wurundjeri nurtured and protected this land and its creation stories, and in return, enjoyed the highest standards of living, health and wellbeing. The river was plentiful with teeming wildfowl in the wetlands of Bulleen, continual harvests in the fish traps, and freshwater mussel farms along the Yarra. The Stringybark and Manna Gum forests also provided abundant game and bush tucker for a population of several hundred people.

The Wurundjeri people shared the same belief system as the East Kulin Nation. The creation period stretches back to when the creation ancestors and spirit beings travelled across the land, creating and naming as they went.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people's oral tradition and religious values are based upon reverence for the land, and a belief in the creation period. The social moiety division and associated spiritual beings of the Woi-wurrung speaking people were Bunjil the wedge-tailed eagle and Waa the crow. Wurundjeri people were of the Waa moiety. During the creation period, Bunjil is their ancestor responsible for the creation of earth and men. Pallian the bat is their ancestor responsible for the creation of water and women. Waa was the protector of humankind.

Some very famous Wurundjeri people are associated with Manningham. In particular, William Barak and Simon Wonga who were both leaders of their community and have descendants still living in the region, some of whom are now Senior Elders themselves.


First Nations cultural heritage places in Manningham

First nations cultural heritage places relate to a particular place that's considered to be a sacred or historically important place for First Peoples. However, it should be noted that not all First Peoples cultural heritage places hold significance to the Wurundjeri community. Within Manningham, we have more than 90 sites of Wurundjeri significance, some of which are the most significant within regional Melbourne. These sites include burial or birthing sites, trading places, travelling pathways, campsites and ceremonial sites, gathering places, mission sites, reserves, and places where conflict took place. Archaeological evidence or artefacts verify where such sites exist within Manningham, as well as stories passed down from generations of Wurundjeri Elders.


Wurundjeri Stories Trail at Pound Bend

Pound Bend Tunnel Reserve, Warrandyte State Park, Pound Bend Road Warrandyte

Wurundjeri Stories is a fascinating and beautifully presented interpretive signage trail at Pound Bend that explores the Wurundjeri history, culture, traditional life, spirituality, events and the people linked to this sacred site.

There are seven signs, each containing in-depth historical accounts presented by a Wurundjeri working group, with stunning artwork and historical photographs, following a flat 1km riverside path, which walkers may wish to continue along the 3.5km River Walk or Loop Walk. Each sign features a section entitled ‘Bunjil’s Challenge’ which encourages walkers to explore the local surrounds in search of key features such as bush tucker, and to consider traditional lifestyle scenarios, making the trail an incredibly engaging, thought provoking and interactive experience.

Wurundjeri Stories is ideal for the casual walker, organised school and pre-school excursions, community groups and a ceremonial space for special Wurundjeri events. Groups are able to arrange for a Wurundjeri Elder or Educator to lead their organised excursion to the site.

A Wurundjeri Stories interpretive sign is also located at Wittons Reserve in Wonga Park, which shares the Wurundjeri history of this site, considered to be Sacred Women’s Country. The sign marks the beginning of the scenic Mount Lofty walk, a section of the Wurundjeri Songline route, the major Wurundjeri travelling route to the Yarra Valley.

For more information about the trail content, or to organise an Elder please contact the Wurundjeri Tribe Council at reception@wurundjeri.com.au or phone 9416 2905.

Resources to support your visit to Wurundjeri Stories at Pound Bend:

Wurundjeri Stories General Flyer
Wurundjeri Stories General Flyer
1.71 MB
Wurundjeri Visitors Guide
Wurundjeri Visitors Guide
808.73 KB


First Nations Resources

Welcome to Country and Acknowledgement of Country

Welcome to Country and Acknowledgement of Country are important ways to recognise and respect Traditional Owners.

A Welcome to Country can only be performed by an Elder from the traditional custodial tribe. The Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation is the nominated Registered Aboriginal Party for Manningham, and as such all request for Welcome to Country ceremonies held within Manningham should be directed to the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Corporation. A Welcome to Country is a paid service and can be arranged by submitting an online booking request form.

An Acknowledgement of Country is a statement a speaker makes at the beginning of an event to acknowledge the traditional owners.

You can find out more about an Acknowledgement of Country at the Reconciliation Australia Website.