WORKS have started across the Budj Bim Cultural Landscape for the Gunditjmara Traditional Owners to protect and develop the land so more visitors can celebrate its history and cultural significance.
Minister for Regional Development Mary-Anne Thomas today visited the south-west site to inspect the progress of works, alongside the region's Traditional Owners and representatives from Glenelg Shire Council.
The works include a new eel aquaculture and information centre, art installations, new raised walkways, a new cantilevered lookout, an upgraded information centre, entrance infrastructure, carparks and interpretive signage.
Construction has started on all five project sites within the cultural landscape, including Tyrendarra Township, Kurtonitj, Lake Condah, Tyrendarra Indigenous Protected Area and Budj Bim.
Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation Acting CEO Denis Rose said the first stage of works are expected to be completed in 2021.
"The Gunditjmara people welcome the Victorian Government's assistance in our journey to protect Budj Bim and encourage more people to learn about and understand the history of this significant landmark," he said.
"These works will help to ensure that this land continues to be visited and looked after for many years to come.
"It's progressing along, it's nice to see the start of the actual construction phase.
"The main aim is for better protection of these important cultural sites, it's about keeping people physically at a distance to these sites as to not damage cultural heritage sites."
Budj Bim was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list in July 2019 and is the only Australian site to be listed on the UNESCO World Heritage list solely for its Aboriginal cultural values.
Budj Bim hosts the remains of over 300 Aboriginal stone houses - evidence of the Gunditjmara People's permanent settlement in the area, as well as a sophisticated system of channels, fish traps and weirs used for farming eels.
"Budj Bim is historically and culturally unique, a place of global significance, which all Victorians can be proud of," Minister Thomas said.
"Making this cultural landscape a better place to visit will help to educate Australians about the deep history of the Gunditjmara people and the connection they have with this land."
"We will continue to work with Traditional Owners to make sure these works are respectful and illuminate the historical significance of Budj Bim."
The state government is investing over $12 million in the project, including $8 million through the Regional Tourism Infrastructure Fund, to improve the tourist infrastructure of the area.
Most of the beautiful landscape at Budj Bim was scorched by fire in January 2020.
The coronavirus pandemic has set back important works on the Budj Bim Cultural Landscape.
In further positive news for the region, internationally acclaimed street artist Adnate has been commissioned as the lead artist to create a large-scale Indigenous war memorial on the water tower in Heywood.
A local Indigenous artist will work alongside and be mentored by Adnate.
Have you signed up to The Standard's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in the south-west.