The Kulin people & our campuses

Victoria University has campuses across Melbourne’s central and western suburbs, located on Aboriginal land.

The traditional owners of this land are five language groups that make up the Kulin Nation.

The Kulin Nation

The Kulin Nation consists of the five language groups who are the traditional owners and lived in the Port Phillip region:

  • Boonwurrung (Boon-wur-rung)
  • Dja Dja Wurrung (Jar-Jar-Wur-rung)
  • Taungurung (Tung-ger-rung)
  • Wathaurung (Wath-er-rung)
  • Woiwurrung (Woy-wur-rung), commonly known as Wurundjeri.

Their collective traditional territory extends around Port Phillip and Western Port. It extends up into the Great Dividing Range and the Loddon and Goulburn River valleys.

The language groups were connected through shared moieties (divided groups) – the Bunjil (wedge-tailed eagle) and Waa (crow). Bunjil is the creation spirit of the Kulin and Waa the protector of the waterways. A waterfall was once located at Queens Bridge, stretching to St Kilda and Albert Park Lake. This was an important resource for the Kulin people, but it was destroyed in the 1880s and covered by Elizabeth Street.

Archaeological evidence has provided an account of Aboriginal occupation in the Port Philip region. This evidence takes a variety of forms such as the tools or other implements that were used. These artefacts and sites have been found all over the Port Philip region. Within the land of the Kulin there are about 1500 archaeological sites of various types. About 200 of them are within the Melbourne metropolitan area itself.

City campuses

  • City Flinders
  • City King
  • City Queen

Footscray campuses

  • Footscray Park
  • Footscray Nicholson
  • VU at MetroWest (Footscray)

The area around Footscray has been home to the Woiwurrung and Boonwurrung people for over 40,000 years.

The name 'Maribyrnong' comes from the Aboriginal term ‘Mirring-gnay-bir-nong’, which translates as ‘I can hear a ringtail possum’. Shell middens and surface scatters have been recorded near the Maribyrnong River.

Many scar trees remain along the river's banks. Canoes were made from bark that was removed from the tree with a tomahawk and pole. Bark was also used to build shields, containers and temporary shelters. Fish and eels were a large component of the Aboriginal people’s diet. These were caught with spears and sophisticated traps made from woven plant fibres and stones.

Brimbank campuses

  • St Albans
  • Sunshine
A sign for Iramoo Field Station at VU's St Albans campus

Brimbank lies within the area occupied by the Kurung-Jang-Balluk and Marin-Balluk clans of the Wurundjeri people (also known as the Woiwurrung language group). These people form part of the larger Kulin Nation. Other groups who occupied land in the area include the Yalukit-Willam and Marpeang-Bulluk clans.

A total of 157 registered Aboriginal archaeological sites exist within Brimbank. The oldest artefacts found are over 30,000 years old. These include bone remnants, ochre, charcoal and hearth stones. A small number of formal tools were also found, including blades and scrapers. Indigenous Australian grasslands are still remnant outside of the St Albans Campus at the Iramoo site.

Werribee campus

The Wathaurung (Wadawurrung), Woiwurrung and Boonwurrung language groups lived throughout the Werribee region.

The name Werribee is an Aboriginal name meaning ‘backbone’ or ‘spine’. It is thought that this name comes from the shape of the Werribee River valley, which looks like a backbone. Koori burials were discovered during sand mining close to the Werribee River. The burials were about 7300 years old.