Indigenous History and Camping in Victoria: What to Know

Indigenous History and Camping in Victoria: What to Know

Victoria is blessed with exquisite natural beauty, sparkling beachfronts, and thick, verdant forests. These enchanting landscapes make it a perfect haven for camping enthusiasts. However, when meandering through Victoria’s wilderness, one cannot ignore the deep connection these lands have with the indigenous inhabitants of this region. An understanding of indigenous history not only enhances your camping experience but also fuels appreciation and respect for Victoria’s rich cultural heritage.

The Indigenous History of Victoria

Before European settlement in the late 18th Century, the land that now constitutes Victoria was home to a multitude of Aboriginal communities. These communities, known collectively as the Koorie, had resided in the region for over 65,000 years. These traditional custodians of Victoria include the Wurundjeri, the Boonwurrung, the Taungurong, the Dja Dja Wurrung, and the Wathaurung.

Victoria’s indigenous tribes lived in harmony with the land, utilizing its resources for their survival without compromising its integrity. Their practices included fish farming in the fish traps found along the Yarra River, seasonal plant diet based on the ‘six seasons,’ and making practical tools from native plants and animals. The Aboriginal tribes of Victoria also created magnificent rock and cave art, some of it dating back over twenty thousand years, and these places are cherished and protected today.

Sadly, colonial invasion brought about the genocide and dispersion of Victoria’s native population, but their connection to the land remains alive in their history and their descendants’ stories. The indigenous community strives to preserve and promote their heritage and is directly involved in many of Victoria’s natural parks management.

Aboriginal Heritage within Victoria’s Campgrounds

Many of Victoria’s camping areas are situated on lands that hold indelible imprints of the indigenous tribes. Ancient carvings, rock paintings, and archeological remains dot these locations, providing campers with a unique opportunity to partake in the Aboriginal communities’ rich history.

For instance, the Grampians National Park, known to the Djab Wurrung and Jardwadjali people as Gariwerd, houses one of the richest indigenous art sites in South-Eastern Australia. Here, campers can find numerous rock paintings depicting ancestral spirits and native animals. The park also offers guided tours with local Aboriginal guides who provide greater insights into the Aboriginal history associated with the area.

Recognising and Respecting Sacred Sites

Whilst camping in Victoria, it’s essential for visitors to acknowledge that they are spending time on lands that were, and still are, considered sacred to its traditional owners. Many camping sites in Victoria are on or near areas of special cultural, spiritual, or historical significance to the Aboriginal communities.

Respect for Indigenous culture includes not touching or damaging rock art, not entering sacred sites without permission, and not removing stones or plants from these sites. Remember the ‘leave no trace’ principle: take only photographs, leave only footprints. It’s also a good practice to learn about the traditional owners of the land you’re visiting, and if possible, take part in cultural tours or heritage walks.

Learning from Indigenous Practices

Campers can learn a great deal from indigenous practices that revolve around sustainable living and co-existence with nature. Fire safety is a notable aspect. The traditional owners of Victoria used methods of ‘cool burning’ or ‘cultural burning’ to cleanse the land and promote vegetation. This burning technique reduces the risk of destructive bushfires, protects the biodiversity, and helps in the hunting of animals and birds.

Contributing to Indigenous Communities

By camping in Aboriginal owned or co-managed campgrounds, visitors can help support the local Indigenous communities. Proceeds from these campgrounds often go towards the preservation of sacred sites, the promotion of Aboriginal culture, and supporting community development. In some parks, visitors are encouraged to participate in the protection and regeneration of the natural environment by planting trees, removing weeds, and cleaning up the areas.


Camping on Victoria’s stunning lands is not just about sleeping under the stars or roasting marshmallows by the campfire. It’s an immersive experience of quieting the mind, reconnecting with Mother Nature, and learning to respect cultures, histories, and practices foreign to our own. By understanding and appreciating the indigenous history tied to these lands, our camping experiences become richer and more meaningful.

To celebrate the heritage of Victoria’s land and its people, let’s adopt the practices of our indigenous brothers and sisters, who tread lightly on the earth, leave no trace, and heartily respect their environment. This not only benefits the earth but also enriches and elucidates our engagement with the natural world.

By Kokoda Gear Uncategorized