Gunditj Mirring Fact Sheets
The Gunditj Mirring Facts Sheets were created to complement the 'Field Guide to Cultural Features of the Budj Bim Landscape'. The fact sheet include information about plants, animals and cultural heritage on the Budj Bim Landscape. The Fact Sheet were crated during the Gunditj Mirring Partnership Project.
Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo
The Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo is known as ‘Willan’ or ‘Kappatj’ in the Dhauwurd Wurrung language of the Gunditjmara. It is an important animal for the Gunditjmara people.
Grasstrees are quite common across Gunditjmara country and had many uses. The flower spike makes an excellent fishing spear. The flower spike could be soaked in water and the nectar makes a sweet drink.
Stone houses were built by the Gunditjmara people for shelter from the elements. Houses were clustered in permanent villages scattered across the Budj Bim landscape. Interconnected houses provided living quarters for families, storage for spears, eel baskets and other hunting implements.
Wedge Tailed Eagel
The Wedge-tailed Eagle (Aquila audax) is the largest bird of prey in Australia. With its unmistakable wedge-shaped tail and size it can be easily identified as a “Wedgie”. The Gunditjmara name is “Kneeanger”.
The Gunditjmara people used wooden tools extensively. Stone axe heads were bound to wooden handles with resin and tendon. Tree bark was used as carrying trays. Acacia bark could also be bent and dried to create a water container.
The Gunditjmara people were very clever hydrologists. They built extensive water management structures throughout the Budj Bim Heritage Landscape. Weirs are different from fish traps as they did not have clear gaps or sections for water to flow through where a basket would be placed.
The Gunditjmara people were traditionally fine hunters and fierce warriors. The spear is the most important tool for the men. The construction of spears varied depending on their use. Different types of spears are recorded for war (longer and heavier) and for hunting (shorter and lighter).
The Gunditjmara people used wattles extensively. Wattle gum can be
used as a glue or binding agent. Gum could be used in the construction of axes and spears. The gum was used to affix
stone points to spears which were wound with kangaroo tendon. This securely fixed the point for hunting. A similar method was used for axes.
Flaked stone tools were used for everyday tasks such as shaping objects made of wood, bark and bone, used as spear tips in hunting weapons, as knives to butcher game, used to scrape and prepare animal skins for cloaks,
containers and decorative items.
Smoking trees are hollowed out trees that were used to smoke eels and fish. Smoking eels and fish preserved the meat to be stored for when food was scarce, or to be traded to other areas.
Scar trees are also known as canoe trees or shield trees. In the Budj Bim landscape, Red Gums and Stringy Barks are most often scarred. These trees are quite common and the Gunditjmara people learned how to make the best use of bark and wood.
Possums and Koalas
Possums, known as “Kuuramuuk”, played a significant role in the daily lives of the Gunditjmara people.
Koalas, known as “Wirngill”, are quite common on the Budj Bim landscape.
Poonyart Grass (Carex tereticaulis) is one of many sedges in Australia. It is quite common throughout South-western Victoria.
This plant was especially important to the Gunditjmara people. It was used by the women to weave baskets and eel traps.
Yam Daisy (Microseris spp.) is also known as Muurang in the Dhauwurd Wurrung language and Native Dandelion. It is native to Australia and is a perennial herb with bright yellow flowers and fleshy tubers.
The Gunditjmara people ground the seeds for use in making damper. Their most significant use of the leaves was for weaving. The long, flat, fibrous leaves were used for making baskets, mats and eel traps which were an important part of daily life.
Tupong were known as “Tuupuurn” to the Gunditjmara people and were an important source of protein. At certain times of the year, Tupong were caught in the fish trap systems near Lake Condah. The plentiful numbers made for a bountiful harvest and they were considered a great delicacy.
Short Finned Eel (Kooyang)
Eels were one of the main sources of food for the Gunditjmara people. The eels were preserved by being smoked in smoking trees. Eels were usually caught in baskets made by the Gunditjmara people. The baskets would sit in an eel trap which were made from the stones or wood
The Gunditjmara people caught Blackfish in great numbers for eating. The extensive water management systems around Lake Condah helped then to catch good sized examples and corral smaller fish into specific ponds to grow to be caught later. Blackfish are described as being quite good eating with soft white flesh.
The bark of the Hemp Bush is very fibrous and can be peeled from the shrub in long thin strips. A practiced hand could retrieve a meter or more of fine string from the plant. The string which can be used for nets and sewing.
Mounds can often contain stone heat retainers, charcoal and burnt clay from cooking ovens. The mounds sometimes include Aboriginal burials. Animal bones and shells, stone tools and lithic scatters are often found in or around the mounds which are often found on rises around floodplains and the banks of watercourses.
Lilies and Orchids
Examples of bulbs used for food by the Gunditjmara include Chocolate Lily (Arthropodium stricta), Yellow Lily (Burchardia umbelata), Greenhood orchid (Pterostylus nutans) and many more.
The Gunditjmara people were very clever hydrologists. They built extensive water management structures throughout the Budj Bim Heritage Landscape. They constructed extensive canals, some more than 300m long.
Grinding stones are very similar to a modern day mortar and pestle. Grinding stones are slabs of stone used to grind and crush roots, tubers, berries, bulbs, seeds, insects, small mammals and reptiles for consumption.
Eel baskets are woven from smooth strap shaped leaves. Spiny headed mat rush, Common Reed and Spear grass were most often used for basket making. The leaves were split, gathered in bundles and soaked to make the fibres pliable for weaving. Carry baskets for food and other items, headbands and clothing, and fibre bags for straining food were also woven by the Gunditjmara. Eel baskets were known as “Gnarraban”.
The Brolga (Grus rubicunda) is one of the most iconic wetland species in South-western Victoria. It is a large grey crane and adult birds have red patches on their heads. They grow up to 140cm tall. Brolgas, known as “Kurout”, are known for their intricate courtship dance which leads to long breeding partnerships.