Insight Australia



Finding Australia’s ancient Aboriginal art


Immerse yourself in stories of Victoria’s cultural history, told by its traditional custodians

Discover Aboriginal culture in the heart of the city, by exploring what is possibly one of the most significant Aboriginal cultural collection in the world. Part of the Melbourne Museum, the Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre tells the stories of the First Peoples of Victoria and explores their cultures through art, storytelling, and powerful multimedia experiences.

It has three main spaces: First Peoples, a permanent, major exhibition that celebrates the survival of Victoria’s Aboriginal people; the Birrarung Gallery, an art space that hosts three exhibitions a year by contemporary Aboriginal artists; and Millari Garden, where you can discover some of the local plants and animals that are important to the world’s oldest living culture.

Meaning ‘the place of Bunjil’ (the ancestral wedge-tailed eagle, a creator spirit), the museum was designed in collaboration with Aboriginal people including Melbourne’s traditional owners, the Boon wurrung and the Woi wurrung. It offers an intensive, interactive and often moving immersion in Aboriginal culture.


Explore the garden’s rich Aboriginal heritage.

The picnickers who unfurl a blanket under a shady tree in verdant Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens may not realise it, but they are continuing an ancient tradition. Long before the Royal Botanic Gardens were established in 1846, these lands were used as a camping and meeting place by the local Boon wurrung and Woi wurrung people.

It has been a long time since warriors hunted emus or wallabies here, or fished for eels in the river, but the culture and practices of the first Australians have not been forgotten. To learn more about the traditions that have been passed down through countless generations, you can join the daily Aboriginal Heritage Walk. Much more than just a stroll through the gardens, this walking tour explores the ways that spirit, connection and land intertwine in Aboriginal culture.

The 90-minute experience starts with a traditional smoking ceremony, after which your Aboriginal guide will introduce you to some of the native flora still found in the area. You will learn about which plants make for good eating and which can soothe insect stings, as well as discovering the stories and traditions of the area’s original inhabitants. Indeed you’ll never look at native plants the same way, after your guide reveals the many inventive uses that the Boon wurrung people found for the flora that surrounded them. More than just a source of food, plants were used in a multitude of ways: as medicines, as bandages, and to make tools and weapons. The leaves of lomandra longifolia, for instance, were used to weave dillybags, while the nectar from the banksia flower was used to make a sweet drink. Understanding which plants were best suited for which purpose, and when was the best time to harvest them, was essential knowledge for Australia’s earliest inhabitants