The Grampians: An Indigenous History

Many people know the rugged sandstone mountain ranges in the northwest of Victoria as The Grampians, but to the local Djab Wurrung and Jardwadjali people, this is a sacred place known as Gariwerd. The descendants of these traditional peoples remain in the area to this day, carrying on the culture and stories of the land. In this week’s article, we’ll be exploring the significance of Gariwerd to the history and culture of the Djab Wurrung and Jardwadjali people.


Why is Gariwerd so important?

With an abundance of food, water and shelter, Gariwerd is a very spiritual place for the Djab Wurrung and Jardwadjali people. Even in more recent years, people from these nations continue to be drawn to this place and consider it a place of cultural, spiritual and historical significance. Gariwerd is central to their dreaming, and is home to 90% of the sites of rock art in Victoria.


The creation story of Gariwerd

A long time ago, Bunjil (the Great Ancestor Spirit), began work to build the world we see around us. He built the mountains, the plains, the seas, the lakes and the forests. In this world, he created the animals and the plants, so they could live in peace.


When he had finished creating the sandstone ranges of Gariwerd, Bunjil would take the form of the eagle, Werpil, in order to view his work from above. Flying over the mountains and the cliffs, he watched the plants and animals he had created growing strong in this world. He listened to the sound of the water; the sound of rainfall and the deep echo of the waterfalls.


After some time, he appointed two brothers- the Bram Bram Bult brothers, who are the sons of the frog, Druk. He asked thw brothers to finish his work in the creation of the world. They were appointed to name the animals and creatures, to bring them language and organise peace throughout the world. When his work was done, Bunjil rose up into the sky and transformed into a star. To this very day, he remains up there watching his creation from above, as the protector of the natural world.


Understanding the Indigenous history behind an area such as Gariwerd can transform your visit into a unique educational experience. Melbourne on The Move offer fuss free day tours to Gariwerd that include a visit to Brambuk Aboriginal Cultural Centre where you can learn even more about the long history of the Djab Wurrung and Jardwadjali people. Get in touch by calling 1300 55 86 86 for more information.