Indigenous History

Bpangerang People

We are the Bpangerang People. For thousands of years, we have belonged to this country.

‘Wangaratta’ is  the Bpangerang word for the long neck of the cormorant. ‘Wanga’ meaning long neck, and ‘Ratta’ meaning cormorant. These birds are a common sight on our two beautiful rivers, the Torryong (Ovens) & Poodumbia (King) Rivers. We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land and pay respect to their Elders, past and present.

The Bpangerang tribal boundary goes from the Great Dividing Range in the south to Waddi near the Murrumbidgee River in the North.  Then from the Baranduda Range (Mt Pilot) in the East to Echuca in the West, especially along the waterways that flow throughout the country.

Waterways are important to the Bpangerang People; they nourish the plants and animals that feed, heal and allow the Bpangerang to build communities.  Bpangerang People are river people, with Bpangerang Country having numerous rivers and creeks that flow throughout and provide plentiful resources. The Bullawah Cultural Trail is a fantastic self-guided walk along the Torryong (Ovens) River where you can discover ancient Aboriginal stories, spirituality, culture, food, sculptures and interpretive signage.

"Land is the starting point from where everything in our world began.  We don't own the land, the land owns us.  We see our bodies as the land and our veins are the rivers that flow through us, nourishing us and sustaining life.  We are spiritually connected to the land, like an artery and its tributaries- like the life-giving water that flows through the Ovens River and its tributaries, from the mountains, down across the plains and into the mighty Murray River."- Uncle Sandy Atkinson.

Many spots along the King River flats, especially at Oxley, had significant camp sites and corroboree grounds for the local Aboriginal peoples, some of whom maintained a semi-traditional lifestyle there as late as mid-1880s.

More information on the Bpangerang People can be found on the below links.





Taungurung People

Taungurung people are the Traditional Owners of a large part of central Victoria and lived on this Country for more than a thousand generations. The Taungurung people are many clans sharing one language and deep spiritual connection with Country. The current generation of Taungurung people is strongly committed to the resurgence of their cultural knowledge and practice, reversing the dire effects of colonisation.

Life before European invasion was characterised by a strong, ritually-expressed connection to Country, with a number of clans making up the Taungurung ‘wurrung’ (language group) or First Nation. When settler society spread from Melbourne to Taungurung Country, the Taungurung people’s occupation of and unique connection with the land was seriously diminished. The Taungurung, along with all other Victorian First Nation peoples, were profoundly impacted and were for well over a century rendered powerless and largely invisible by the prejudice and ignorance of settler society

Land, family, law, ceremony and language are five key interconnected elements of Indigenous culture. These five elements combine to create a way of seeing and being in the world that is distinctly Indigenous. The people of the Taungurung First Nation share in common their understanding of each of these elements - and so share a distinctive culture.

Our ancestors shared a common social organisation, based on moiety affiliation, with the other Kulin groups. Their society was divided into two moieties: Bundjil (Wedge Tail Eagle) and Waang (Crow). Every member of the tribe identified with one of these moieties and it was this identity that determined their pattern for marriage, ceremonial life and other activities. The various Taungurung clans were all associated with defined estates within the tribal lands. Each clan had strong connection with and responsibility for its clan estate, and for the songlines that traversed their estate. The Taungurung people of today, whilst retaining clan affiliation, collectively take responsibility for the entire Taungurung estate. Their continuing strong sense of connection with their traditional lands is at times expressed through ceremony.

Taungurung creation stories, tools, artefacts, baskets, kinship, weaving, songs, language and dance are all important elements that together form a rich cultural identity for the Taungurung people. The possum skin cloak is another important traditional item that contributes to cultural unity today. Whereas once it provided warmth and water protection from in harsh winters, it is now used to signify status and for ceremonial activities and occasions. The possum skin cloak is often adorned with designs, sometimes displaying totemic identity and stories. Tanderrum is a coming-together ceremony enacted by the nations of the Kulin confederacy to express welcome, safe passage, and cultural unity. An annual Tanderrum is generally held at Federation Square to open the Melbourne International Arts Festival and the Taungurung people, in preparing for these significant public events, enact and reimagine their ancient stories and songlines in contemporary dance and song in order to provide a powerful presentation of their traditions.