The People of Budj Bim

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The People of Budj Bim


In 2009, carbon dating found that a fishtrap system at Lake Condah in south-west Victoria was an incredible 6,700 years old. Constructed by the Gunditjmara people, it is one of five sophisticated fishtrap systems that were built around the lake’s edge. A permanent supply of freshwater and abundant eels, fish and water plants meant the Gunditjmara led a settled life there – an experience without parallel among Aboriginal societies and landscapes in Australia.

Written by Gib Wettenhall  with the Gunditjmara people, The People of Budj Bim brings to life the amazing, unknown story about their traditional eel aquaculture systems and associated stone house settlements, once dotted throughout the lakes, streams and ponds on the Mt Eccles lava flow in south-west Victoria. Known as the Budj Bim landscape, it was the setting for what Robbery Under Arms author, Rolf Boldrewood, called the Eumeralla War, a six year battle fought by Gunditjmara clans against squatters taking over their land. Budj Bim was the first Indigenous landscape to gain National Heritage listing in 2004.

 The full colour book with images throughout provides an accessible, plain English introduction to the Budj Bim landscape and its Indigenous history. It is aimed at tourists, tour leaders, school groups, the community and the public in general. Funding for research, writing and production was provided by Aboriginal Affairs Victoria. 

Praise for The People of Budj Bim – and click here to see full copies of media reviews

“If ever there was a case for a locale to be granted World Heritage Area status, this new book provides vivid and persuasive evidence for just that. Full marks... for telling the story with such eloquence and clarity.” – Steve Robertson in the Portland Observer                         
"I wish that when I went on the obligatory school excursion to the Western District as a girl, I had been told the story of the people of Budj Bim. This clearly written, enlightening booklet is not only an excellent teaching tool but also a must-read for anyone who wants the full picture on the history of the Western District." Fiona Capp in The Age.
"A new book makes a wonderful contribution to our knowledge of the heritage of south-west Victoria. This book provides the perfect guide for the visitor wanting to explore the history of Budj Bim, The Mount Eccles National Park and the Kanawinka Geopark. Importantly, it tells the story from the Gunditjmara perspective, a story of ingenuity, tragedy and ultimately triumph." Anne Beggs Sunter in The Ballarat Courier
"This informative and well-researched booklet is not only an excellent teaching resource but also a must-read for any teacher or student with an interest in the living culture of the Gunditjmara." Review in Shine magazine for teachers.
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