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MEDIA RELEASE - From Budj Bim to Baku, the finishing line is in sight

3 July 2019

From Budj Bim to Baku, the marathon effort for UNESCO World Heritage Listing for the Budj Bim Cultural Landscape continues.

Glenelg Shire Mayor Cr Anita Rank said after years of hard work by the Gunditjmara people their dreams and efforts would hopefully be recognised this weekend as the UNESCO World Heritage Committee meets.

Speaking on behalf of all councillors in sending her well-wishes to the Gunditjmara delegation who have travelled to Baku, Azerbaijan on the eve of the expected World Heritage approval, Cr Rank said the imminent decision was part of a broad vision formed four decades earlier by visionary local elders.

“This is an extremely proud moment for not only the Gunditjmara community but for all Victorians,” Cr Rank said.

“This path to reach World Heritage status started almost 40 years ago and has included generations of local Gunditjmara people who have unitedly chorused to all levels of government the national cultural significance of this landscape.

“Today we are is on the eve of this important recognition hopefully being realised – a legacy for the countless community members who have helped to form this convincing business case.

“A World Heritage listing will have the power of completely transforming our tourism sector, injecting thousands of new tourists to the region annually, whilst providing much deserved recognition for the unique cultural heritage of this ancient landscape.
“The power is now in the hands of the UNESCO leaders as we wait in anticipation.”

The Budj Bim Cultural Landscape, located north and east of Heywood, pre-dates the Egyptian pyramids and is home of what is believed to be the world’s oldest freshwater aquaculture systems.

Unlike most nomadic indigenous cultures, the Gunditjmara people built a large settled society along the stony local wetland with evidence of the stone huts still present.

Cr Rank said the sharing of these dreamtime stories would reach a new global audience, if the world heritage bid was approved.

She said funding of $13 million from the State Government for new tourism infrastructure and interpretive devices would assist in guiding tourists across the vast landscape.

“Council applauds the efforts of Gunditj-Mirring Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation and their supporting partners at Winda-Mara Co-op for reaching this milestone point. If successful, Budj Bim will be the first Australian site exclusively listed for its Aboriginal cultural value,” Cr Rank said.

“This is an outstanding effort and one which will transform the lives of many Gunditjmara people who will be in high demand as tourism guides, and for media profile, to share their Dreamtime stories.”

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