Shire backs bid for Budj Bim world heritage status

THE Gunditjmara community is making a strong case to have the Budj Bim cultural landscape placed on the world heritage list.

Glenelg Shire CEO Sharon Kelsey: government must reconsider importance of the region's indigenous heritage.

Glenelg Shire CEO Sharon Kelsey: government must reconsider importance of the region's indigenous heritage.

Glenelg Shire and the Great South Coast Group have joined in the push to list the indigenous region, which spans from the coast at Tyrendarra as far north as Mount Eccles near Macarthur.

Budj Bim is home to unique indigenous aquaculture fish traps nearly 7000 years old and volcanic lava flows dating back 30,000 years. 

The landscape was added to Australia’s national heritage list in 2004 but indigenous leaders and the shire insist the site is significant enough for UNESCO recognition. 

“It’s the world’s oldest freshwater aquaculture system,” Gunditj Mirring interim chief executive Damein Bell told The Standard.

The Commonwealth has released a draft strategy of its recommendations for world heritage listing, with Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Market the nomination from Victoria, Mr Bell said. 

Cape York Peninsula and Sydney’s Royal National Park have also been shortlisted for world heritage listing. 

“Part of it is protection, the other part of it is sharing our story through cultural tourism,” Mr Bell said. 

“The Victorian government has been very supportive of the work the community has been doing down here.” 

The campaign for world heritage listing has been ongoing for the past decade. 

Glenelg Shire voiced its public support this week, making a submission to the federal government to include Budj Bim in the draft strategy. 

Shire chief executive Sharon Kelsey said most Aboriginal sites such as the fish traps were largely preserved. 

“It’s really important we protect this for the Gunditjmara people,” Ms Kelsey said. “It’s important to get the government to look again.” 

Budj Bim covers not only Glenelg Shire but also parts of Moyne and Southern Grampians shires.

World listing could also deliver huge benefits from cultural and eco-tourism.

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