SOUTH-WEST Victorian site Budj Bim has become the first Australian Indigenous site inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list exclusively for its Aboriginal values.
The site, created 6600 years ago, spans almost 100 square kilometres and features what is believed to be the world's oldest freshwater aquaculture systems.
Gunditjmara Traditional Owners cheered at a session of the World Heritage Committee in Baku, Azerbaijan, when the site's status was confirmed on Saturday.
Traditional owner Denis Rose thanked supporters over the years, including government, NGOs and educational institutions.
"For us to get to this stage has been a long journey," Mr Rose said.
"I'd like to acknowledge our Gunditjmara ancestors who have led the way for us. We know they are still here with us and their ingenuity still shows in the aqua culture systems that are still operational to this day."
A hemisphere away Denis' brother Daryl Rose was watching as the listing was announced online and was preparing to celebrate at Heywood on Saturday night.
"We had an inking and we knew we had a good case. It was just a relief all the work that has been put in over the years to get to this stage," Mr Rose said.
"It is a recognition that our culture can stand alone, it doesn't have to be wrapped up in other things. It's so important."
Glenelg Shire Mayor Anita Rank said the listing was the accumulation of 40 years work by Gunditjmara people.
"The obvious benefits are the economic benefits that may come through tourism, but what underlies that is that the Traditional Owners will be able to tell their story and that those lands will be able to be recongised and preserved, and that's what is important," Cr Rank said.
Speaking in Baku, Australian delegate Stephen Oxley told the World Heritage meeting that the listing was a significant day in Australia's history.
"In the deep time that Indigenous people have inhabited Australia a day is but a flicker in history, but today burns bright and will be remembered as we inscribe Australia's first world heritage property exclusively for its Indigenous values," Mr Oxley said.
"It is a symbol of and a step towards the healing of our history."
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