The You Yangs and surrounding region is,  and always has been, a most significant Cultural home for the Wadawurrung/Wathaurong people.

The You Yangs region is a significant gathering place and a perfect setting for everyone to learn about the importance of connecting with nature and to gain Cultural knowledge of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Wadawurrung language: Wurdi Youang from ABC Open Ballarat 

This video is set in Wurdi Youang, located about 60km south-west of Melbourne, it is now known as the You Yangs, which means big hill in the middle of a plain. Here we explain the story behind how this impressive series of granite ridges, was formed and why it is part of an ancient song line.


Uncle Bryon Powell, Wadawurrung Traditional Owner at Big Rock

The You Yangs Region is noted for its rich Wadawurrung history and contains many registered Aboriginal Heritage sites associated with our parks, waterways and grasslands.

These continue to provide a vital focus for Aboriginal cultural practices and learning and have immense potential for wider public education and interest.


Aboriginal artefact scatters, earth mounds and scarred trees occur throughout the whole region which is of  social, cultural and spiritual significance. The waterbodies, distinctive natural features and places of ecological value within this area have high Aboriginal cultural heritage sensitivity.

“From ‘time immemorial’ and according to science 60,000 years”

“Since the beginning of the Dreaming, the great ancestor spirit, Bunjil, the wedge-tailed eagle, created the land, rivers, lakes, plants, laws and lore of the great Kulin Nation. Djillong (Geelong) meaning ‘tongue of land’ in the local language is the home of the Wadawurrung, one of the five tribes making up the Kulin Nation whose collective territory extends around Port Phillip and Western Port, up into the Great Dividing Range and the Loddon and Goulburn River valleys. The Wadawurrung territory includes the districts of Geelong, Bellarine, Ballarat and Beaufort, and around 25 clans.

Bunjil establishes the laws and bonds connecting people to country and enables people to live on the land in harmony and in balance with the environment. This knowledge is passed down from Elders in the oral tradition. For thousands of years the Wadawurrung people hunted and gathered across their lands and waters, with weather and food availability determining where campsites were located. This could have been by a yaluk (river) or buluk (lake) for a good kuarka (fishing place) to catch a kuwiyn (fish).

Today, many Wadawurrung people maintain a strong sense of cultural pride and belonging, practicing culture, upholding the dignity of their ancestors and passing on knowledge to future generations. Remnants of daily life of the Wadawurrung people include shell middens, fish traps, artefact scatters, stone quarries, scar trees, stone arrangements and burial sites. Importantly, Geelong has one of the largest numbers of registered Aboriginal sites in the State.

The first European settlers arrived in Geelong in 1836 and the rapid colonisation that followed saw the Wadawurrung population decimated. Disease, violence, forced removal from their lands, and assimilation policies saw the loss of people, language, traditions and culture.”

Introduction from the City of Greater Geelong Heritage Strategy, 2017-2023, written in consultation with Uncle Bryon Powell, Wadawurrung Traditional Owner.


For more information see    -  Wathaurong/Wadawurrung,  Djillong, including some excellent local stories in videos,  and CoGG's page -  Lands of the Wadawurrung and the Wadawurrung Language app

We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of Wadawurrung Country and pay our respects to their Elders and people, past and present, as we do to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people everywhere.

Coming Events here and nearby