Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that this site may contain the names, images, stories and voices of people now passed and resting in the Dreaming.

Connection to land

The Merri Creek, also known as the “Merri Merri” Creek, means “very rocky” in Woi-wurrung, the traditional language of this Country.

The Merri creek wound its way through a fertile flood plain, or terrace about 300 metres wide. Fertile soils in the area grew gum and paperbark trees, bottlebrush and tea-trees. The Moonee Ponds Creek, named after Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Ancestor, Moonee Monee, is older than the Merri Creek, originally cut as deep as 10 metres into the sandstone. This was the original landscape which provided the basis for the cultural, spiritual, economic and social lives of the Traditional Owners of Country.

History of dispossession

Contact between the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung and Europeans occurred in 1835. The subsequent experience of colonisation and dispossession had devastating and ongoing consequences for the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung people and other Aboriginal Victorians.

“We live in an unspoken shadow of catastrophic dispossession,” Uncle Andrew Gardiner, Wurundjeri Elder, and Deputy Chair of the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation said.

"In less than 2 years,most of the current Moreland city area was declared the private property of just 29 men.”

“This destroyed our civilisation that had been in harmony with this country for tens of thousands of years."

“With our culture and community shattered, echoes of this devastation still reverberate today.”

In 1863, Ngurungaeta (“Leader”) Wonga and his maternal cousin Wiliam Barak, lead their surviving people across the Black Spur to the Upper Yarra and established Coranderrk Mission Station near Healesville on 2300 acres of land. Access to the land was granted, though importantly not as freehold.

Many other Aboriginal Victorians also settled at Coranderrk Station. The history of Coranderrk (1863 – 1924) is nothing less than extraordinary.

Unceded territory

Remarkably, descendants of the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung people survived the very difficult decades immediately associated with colonisation and dispossession. The Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung people continue to live and work on Country including in the municipality of Moreland which remains part of their unceded territory.

Australia is the only country in the Commonwealth that does not currently have a Treaty with its First People. In 2018 the State of Victoria passed a legislation to progress Treaty with Aboriginal Victorians.

Content approved by the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation.

First Australians - Freedom for our lifetime - Episode 3

Council recognises that this is by no means a complete retelling of the Aboriginal history of the local area, nor is it the only way that even this small part of the story could be told. We also recognise that contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history within our municipality, and further afield, is constantly evolving. Much of the contemporary history remains with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to whom it belongs.