Kulin nation

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The image is a map of the Melbourne area with coloured areas labelled (n a clockwise direction from the west of Port Philip Bay around to the east: 'Wathaurong', 'Djadjawurung', 'Taungurung', 'Woiworung', and 'Boonwurrung'.
A basic map of the five languages of the Kulin nation.

The Kulin nation is an alliance of five Aboriginal nations in south central Victoria, Australia. Their collective territory extends around Port Phillip and Western Port, up into the Great Dividing Range and the Loddon and Goulburn River valleys.

Before British colonisation, the tribes spoke five related languages. These languages are spoken by two groups: the Eastern Kulin group of Woiwurrung, Boonwurrung, Taungurung and Ngurai-illam-wurrung; and the western language group of just Wathaurung.

The central Victoria area has been inhabited for an estimated 40,000 years before European invasion.[a] At the time of British settlement in the 1830s, the collective populations of the Woiwurrung, Boonwurrung and Wathaurong tribes of the Kulin nation was estimated to be under 20,000.[1][2][b] The Kulin lived by fishing, cultivating murnong (also called yam daisy; Microseris) as well as hunting and gathering, and made a sustainable living from the rich food sources of Port Phillip and the surrounding grasslands.[2][3]

Due to the upheaval and disturbances from British settlement from the 1830s on, there is limited physical evidence of the Kulin peoples' collective past. However, there is a small number of registered sites of cultural and spiritual significance in the Melbourne area.[4][5]


At certain times of the year, these nations would meet at Yarra Falls to settle disputes, to trade, and to hold corroborees.[6]


When foreign people passed through or are invited onto tribal lands, the ceremony of Tanderrum – freedom of the bush – is performed. This is intended to allow for safe passage and temporary access and use of land and resources by foreign people. It is a diplomatic rite involving the landholder's hospitality and a ritual exchange of gifts.


  1. ^ "There is some evidence to show that people were living in the Maribyrnong River valley, near present day Keilor, about 40,000 years ago." (Presland 1997)
  2. ^ Presland describes in some detail the archaeological evidence regarding aboriginal life, culture, food gathering and land management, particularly the period from the flooding of Bass Strait and Port Phillip from about 7–10,000 years ago, up to the European colonisation in the 19th century. (Presland 1994)


  1. ^ Indigenous connections to the site.
  2. ^ a b Presland 1994.
  3. ^ Pascoe, Bruce, 1947-, Dark emu, ISBN 978-1-4893-8039-5, OCLC 1089338508, retrieved 5 September 2020{{citation}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  4. ^ Eidelson 1997, pp. 8–9.
  5. ^ Eidelson 2001.
  6. ^ Maunder, Patricia (11 January 2008). "Melbourne dreamtime a reality". The Age. The Age. Retrieved 24 April 2019.


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