Experience the Dandenongs

Mount Dandenong & Surrounds

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The Dandenongs’ Indigenous Heritage and Culture

As Melbourne expanded east, this river red gum and creek floodplain area became home to numerous Woiwurrung Indigenous Australian tribe clans and later, popular weekend retreat with both country houses and humble cottage shacks.

Dandenongs residents treasure and celebrate its cultural diversity, recognising it as a source of strength within the township’s Purpose Statements.

The Dandenong Ranges

The Dandenong Ranges lie to the east of Melbourne, forming a low mountainous chain. They form part of the Great Dividing Range and boast gently rolling hills, steep gullies and waterfalls as well as dense temperate rainforest containing tall mountain ash trees.

Explore heritage-listed sites throughout the region to uncover an artistic legacy rich in heritage from early Heidelberg School landscape paintings by Tom Roberts and Arthur Streeton to modernist landscape works by Fred Williams and Yorta Yorta artist Lin Onus.

Take part in the Art Lives Here Trail by visiting studios of working wood carvers, painters, digital artists, jewellery designers and sculptors – including wood carvers who create woodcarvings or paintings using hand tools! Lie back on sweeping winery lawns or beneath summer stars while taking advantage of outdoor musical presentations by pop superstars such as Lady Nellie Melba or jazz maestros such as Don Lee!

Discover the natural beauty of the Yarra Valley and Dandenongs through trails that wind their way through trees to stunning vistas of lush forests, ferny undergrowth, waterfalls, open pastures and majestic mountains. Visit Healesville Sanctuary to meet native wildlife including Kookaburras chirruping their hello’s and hear its call, plus Healesville Sanctuary to meet native fauna such as Kookaburras chirping their goodbye’s and superb Lyrebird calls.

This project has been created through collaboration among Yarra Ranges Council, Traditional Owners and local history groups. Two cultural studies commissioned by Yarra Ranges Council form the thematic basis for this undertaking:

This work honors Bunurong Land Council and local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities of Greater Dandenong as they remain connected to Country. It seeks to activate Country, attract visitors, while supporting traditional owners’ self-determination relating to custodianship of the Dandenong Ranges. The work includes an arts trail along Dandenong Creek Trail featuring interpretive signage with language place names; an online gallery that showcases local Indigenous art; cultural events celebrations practices as well as pop-up stalls ngurrak barring team will hold in-person engagement stalls at events throughout the year to engage community engagement and give opportunities for feedback from participants.

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The Green Wedge

Nillumbik Green Wedge has long provided people with a sense of place. Bounded by Great Dividing Range to its north and Yarra River to its south, its rugged landscape consists of steep ridges and gently sloping hills enclosing plains and flats – an area which has played host to human settlement for millennia – as well as abundant biodiversity with plant species native to its environment.

Green Wedge Management Plans (GWMPs) are an integral component of council’s strategy to manage the green wedge, setting out vision and goals for managing its environment and culture in line with Melbourne 2030. Part of Council Plan, these documents include setting out community expectations regarding environmental and cultural resources in their shires. As living documents they guide policy development and action from council staff as well as government agencies – making up part of policy decisions as they take effect and guide action taken by these bodies and agencies.

Council engaged the wider community through workshops, an internet survey on council’s “Talkback Panel”, meetings and public events to gain an understanding of issues of importance to its people as well as natural and cultural heritage in the shire. Consultation included asking residents what they appreciated about Green Wedge and how it should be managed going forward.

One issue identified is funding the management of the green wedge. Therefore, council has recommended forming a community advisory group (CAG). This short-term group will help to develop and create the Green Wedge Management Plan (GWMP), meeting at key stages to provide input, review draft papers and advise on important matters.

This advisory group’s purpose is to assist council in developing a Green Waste Management Plan (GWMP), which will reflect community needs and aspirations through planning, development, and implementation activities of council. This will make Melbourne more sustainable according to Melbourne 2030 values.

RidgeWalk

The Dandenong Ranges boast significant Indigenous heritage and culture, offering habitat to an abundance of plants, animals and sites related to Aboriginal cultural practices.

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As a community, we cherish every opportunity to connect with Indigenous history, heritage and culture – whether that means learning more about local Indigenous communities and their traditions or visiting exhibitions, events or places of interest. The City of Greater Dandenong is committed to reconciliation and works toward meeting its Reconciliation Action Plan’s (RAP) goals.

Council and its ngurrak barring | RidgeWalk team actively engage with residents and the wider community on projects and initiatives through pop-up events, online surveys and Council social media channels. Anyone wanting to be updated about opportunities for involvement with ngurrak barring | RidgeWalk can sign up here.

This project seeks to connect people with their land by telling stories of people and their connections to the Dandenongs through a 39km walking track. This will include storytelling, reenactments of traditional ceremonies, contemporary art projects and interpretive signage throughout the region.

Located within the traditional territory of the Wurundjeri people, Yarra Ranges Regional Park is an oasis of peace and beauty renowned for its temperate forests and lush fern gullies. Home to numerous native mammals, birds, reptiles and invertebrates as well as the iconic Sulfur-crested Cockatoo and Laughing Kookaburra; visitors will experience complete tranquillity here.

The Yarra Ranges are home to an abundance of Indigenous heritage and cultural significance for Kulin peoples, with Knox hosting many areas with historic value for Wurundjeri and Boon wurrung peoples including Stud Road in Knox. Stud Road would have served as a meeting place between members of both groups as well as being a major source of food and water due to many creeks, rivers streams and fern gullies in its vicinity. Furthermore, the Yarra River has long been used by Aboriginals of Yarra Valley/Dandenongs providing freshwater for fishing purposes among other uses by Aboriginals living there and providing freshwater for all uses including freshwater for fishing among others uses – something the Yarra River has long provided.

TarraWarra Museum of Modern Art, situated on Wurundjeri land and dedicated to creating meaningful relationships with First Peoples, prides itself on nurturing close ties between Indigenous art, exhibitions and projects at TarraWarra, and this important community relationship. Permanent and curated exhibitions explore history, culture and spirituality of Wurundjeri country while featuring work from local artists such as Arthur Streeton and Tom Roberts.

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Burrinja

Burrinja Cultural Centre boasts a vision that is both creative and clear: ‘Building Community through Arts’. Their core objective is facilitating new, experiential, and distinctive art practices while continuing support for existing forms in Dandenong Ranges – all to increase vibrancy and diversity of their local community, culture, and landscape.

The Dandenongs is an Indigenous cultural landscape with a long and significant history, serving as traditional Country for the Wurundjeri People for millennia. Parks Victoria recognizes and acknowledges Traditional Owners’ deep ties to these lands and waters and their vital role in caring for Country.

Attesting to this is through various cultural and environmental initiatives, such as restoring significant places, safeguarding culturally sensitive sites, supporting local Indigenous communities to undertake biodiversity conservation work and cultural heritage preservation, managing Wandering Trad (Tradescantia fluminensis), managing cultural weeds such as Wandering Trad (Tradescantia fluminensis) management efforts, as well as increasing community awareness about traditional Aboriginal practices prevalent in the area.

It offers various programs that celebrate Indigenous culture and encourage community engagement with it, including hosting an annual Indigenous Film Festival in Yarra Ranges. Recently, they received national museum accreditation – awarded to organisations that demonstrate they meet recognized professional practice standards – which took two-three years for them to complete and was an important milestone for their organisation.

The Cultural Centre is an energetic hub of arts and culture, where important stories are told, participants encouraged to join, and creativity celebrated. It features multiple gallery spaces, artist studios, a 400 seat theatre, black box space for kids’stay and play’ art activities, rehearsal and making spaces and even a cafe! Design team Workshop Architecture created a remarkable design to reimagine an existing building with new purpose and identity, using natural materials like Maxiply Ply to bring its cultural history alive while elevating aesthetic. New public areas at the museum boast welcoming spaces that integrate the outdoors. Already it has earned two awards: Archival Survival Award for Small Museums and Highly Commended in this year’s Museums Australia National Awards in Temporary or Travelling Exhibition categories.