Sustainable Development of the Budj Bim Cultural Landscape.
The Budj Bim Cultural Landscape is at the heart of Gunditjmara country. At around 30,000 years old, Budj Bim (formerly known as Mt Eccles) is Victoria’s youngest volcano and the site of the revelation of an ancestral creation being of Gunditjmara country.
The resultant lava flows over the past 30,000 years were cultivated by Gunditjmara peoples to engineer one of the world’s oldest freshwater aquaculture systems to farm and harvest Kooyang (short finned eels) and other fish. Alongside the traditionally engineered aquaculture systems, Gunditjmara clans established villages along the Budj Bim Cultural Landscape by building clusters of stone houses.
Following this immense history and heritage of sustainable development through cultural tradition, beliefs and practices, the Gunditjmara and the Winda-Mara Aboriginal Corporation partnered together to establish the Lake Condah Sustainable Development Project.
The project commenced its work in 2002 by engaging with the broader community using the language of sustainable development and its triple bottom line principles of environmental, social/cultural and economic development to build relationships and common understandings between the Gunditjmara, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and broader communities.
Together with government agencies, schools, universities and regional industries including the formal sponsorship of the project by Alcoa Australia and Portland Aluminium, the project set the following objectives to be worked towards and achieved:
To gain national and world heritage listing for the Budj Bim Cultural Landscape.
To restore permanent water to Lake Condah as a major cultural & wetlands restoration project.
To restore the Lake Condah Mission Church site and provide active reconciliation for the far southwest Victorian community.
To develop a natural resources management framework for the sustainable development of the area.
To develop knowledge networks to foster and share the learning required for sustainable development for the far southwest of Victoria and beyond.
To develop sustainable natural resources, tourism and education employment clusters for the southwest Victorian community.
To consolidate the LCSDP’s strong collaborative partnership of active members to support, resource, advocate and take responsibility to achieve outcomes.
Over the next decade, the Lake Condah Sustainable Development Project achieved many of its objectives including having the Budj Bim Cultural Landscape declared onto Australia’s National Heritage List in 2004 and the return and restoration of Lake Condah in 2010.
The establishment of the Budj Bim Rangers Program in 2006 and the ongoing engagement with the broader community built a research and knowledge resource that continues to acknowledge the science and technology of the Gunditjmara ancestors and compound our own understanding of the ecologies that uphold the social, cultural, environmental and economic relationships along the Budj Bim Cultural Landscape.
Budj Bim Sustainable Development Partnership
Following a review of the previous decade’s achievements and learnings, the Budj Bim Sustainable Development Partnership was launched in 2012 to follow on from the successful Lake Condah Sustainable Development Project.
The refined objectives of the Budj Bim Sustainable Development Partnership included:
Achieving a World Heritage Nomination for the Budj Bim Cultural Landscape; and
Being product ready for the Budj Bim Cultural Landscape as an iconic visitor destination for domestic and international visitors to experience the Budj Bim story and landscape.