Twelve Apostles-Gaz Victoria
Gaz at the English language Wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

The first steps in the protection and promotion of the Budj Bim Cultural Landscape as a world class tourism destination have been taken.

A recent meeting of the inaugural Budj Bim Master Plan Regional Project Control Group saw Traditional Owners, local councils and the Andrews Labor Government consider the staging of the key heritage management and infrastructure projects that will give the area the protection and promotion it deserves.

A decision on whether Budj Bim will be included on Australia’s tentative list for World Heritage nominations is expected from the Federal Government in early 2017.

The Budj Bim Cultural Landscape in Victoria’s south-west is one of Australia’s most culturally significant locations and has been put forward for inclusion on the list by the Labor Government.

Work on the site will begin this year, with Master Plan Stages 1 and 2 expected to be complete by 2019. The Labor Government has provided $8 million for these stages.

Budj Bim is home to potentially one of Australia’s oldest and largest aquaculture systems and is evidence of a large, settled Aboriginal community systematically farming and smoking eels for food and trade.

Gunditjmara people lived there in permanent settlements, dispelling the myth that Australia’s first people were all nomadic. Budj Bim has been identified by scholars as potentially the world’s first engineering project, dating back at least 6,600 years, preceding the Pyramids of Egypt and Stonehenge.

The Budj Bim Master Plan presents a staged approach to developing the Budj Bim cultural landscape, to improve its protection and management and establish it as a world-class sustainable tourism destination.

It will ensure the area can accommodate projected visitor numbers and support an expanding tourism sector through interpretative signage, improved pedestrian and vehicle access, accommodation and visitor information centres.

A key project for Budj Bim is the construction of a traditional eel aquaculture interpretation centre to support eel product manufacture and sales, and also be a drawcard for tourists to learn more about Gunditjmara people’s traditional practices and engineering.