Today we started our day at Brambuk Cultural Centre. Brambuk, meaning “white cockatoo” is a place where visitors can experience, through the building, the richness of Aboriginal culture. The $1million project was funded by the Victorian State Government and developed over some ten years by a committee comprising five Aboriginal communities from the western district of Victoria and other tourism and government bodies. The 800 m2, two story building is located in the valley between Baronia Peak and the Wonderland Range, south of Halls Gap in the Grampians National Park.
While most people know the mountain range as the Grampians, Aboriginal people have always known this place as Gariwerd. (Gary-word) Gariwerd is a special place, a place central to the dreaming of Aboriginal people, particularly the Djab Wurrung and the Jardwadjali the traditional people of this area. Their descendents are still at Gariwerd involved in maintaining the culture and the stories of the land.
The Brambuk Building is unlike any other. The communities wanted a building that was unique, a building that blended in with the mountains of Gariwerd and one which showed each communities connection to it.
BR (Bricks) –The mud clay bricks on the right hand side as you enter the building is a
reminder of the Ebenezer Mission at Antwerp.
S (Stonework) –The stonework on the chimney and watertraps outside the building represent
the stonehouses and fishtraps of Lake Condah.
W (Whale) –The theatre room ceiling represents the Southern Right Whale with the central
beam as the backbone and the rafters as the rib cage.
P (Poles) –The tree trunks throughout the building represent Native forest and bushland
The forest provides shelter, warmth and food
R (Ramp) –The Walkway to the Upper represents the Eel, which has been a staple food
for our people
C (Circles) –The building is made up of five circles to represent the five Aboriginal communities
who formed Brambuk.
S (Shelters)-The fireplaces represent the occupation and rock art shelters found in the
BU (Bunjil’s Seat) –The wooden seat represents Bunjil, with his arms out caring for you,
as you sit looking into the fire. Bunjil is the creator Spirit of the Aboriginal people in south
The building itself is shaped in the form of a cockatoo in flight, the totem animal of the
Djab Wurrung and the Jardwadjali.
Something that really captured my thinking was the seasons that the aboriginal people relate to our land. How often do we as Europeans look at the calendar and say it is Autumn and yet in reality the season has not caught up with the calendar of time. The aboriginal people's seasons are fluid with the changes in nature and if there is abundant rain or a drought the season will be shortened or lengthened accordingly.
We then drove to Stawell to get fuel and continue our day's journey to Bunjil Cave located within the Black Range Scenic reserve near Stawell and is the only rock art painting of Bunjil known.
Bunjil is a significant figure in Aboriginal culture, a legendary hero who provides for all and remains the protector of the natural world, his people and their beliefs.
The boulder and surrounding rocks are whats known as Granite. Large granite blocks are formed when magma (liquid rock) crystallises and hardens deep in the earth's crust. There is slow cooling, and thick layers of sandstone on top of the granite exert extreme downward pressure on the granite. From there, tectonic forces cause folding of the Earth's crust in the area, which lifts the granite. As the granite gets closer to the surface, pressure is diminished and it can expand. It is now also exposed to temperature differences, and the daily cycles of repeated expansion and contraction cause thermal stress, creating cracks which go deep into the granite and may even split it.
Large formations are separated into smaller blocks. As the granite becomes exposed, water containing weak plant acids seeps into the cracks. It eats away at the minerals, turning the surface granite into gravels and clay. Thin layers of loose material start coming off in a process called exfoliation. The chemical processes have more effect on areas with edges and work on the outer few centimetres near these edges and the surface. While these processes work their way inwards, the penetration remains incomplete in the centre of the rock. It is this spheroidal weathering which leads to the rounded shapes.
The erosion of the sandstone exposes the top layer of the granite formation, showing the boulders. Water and wind erosion now takes away the surrounding gravel and soil, and contributes to further rounding. While erosion continues above the surface, ongoing weathering continues below the surface. Over time this continuous process sometimes exposes rounded boulders stacked on top of each other
In Australian Aboriginal mythology, Bunjil the eagle (or eaglehawk) is a creator deity, culture hero and ancestral being. In the Kulin nation in central Victoria he was regarded as one of two moiety ancestors, the other being the trickster Crow. Bunjil has two wives and a son, Binbeal the rainbow. His brother is Balayang the bat. He is assisted by six wirmums or shamans who represent the clans of the Eaglehawk moiety: Djurt-djurt the nankeen kestrel, Thara the quail hawk, Yukope the parakeet, Dantum the parrot, Tadjeri the brushtail possum and Turnong the gliding possum.
According to one legend, after creating the mountains, rivers, flora, fauna, and laws for humans to live by, Bunjil gathered his wives and sons then asked Crow, who had charge of the winds, to open his bags and let out some wind. Crow opened a bag in which he kept his whirlwinds, creating a cyclone which uprooted trees. Bunjil asked for a stronger wind. Crow complied, and Bunjil and his people were blown upwards into the sky. Bunjil himself became the star Altair and his two wives, the black swans, became stars on either side.
A Bunurong story tells of a time of conflict among the Kulin nations, when people argued and fought with one another, neglecting their families and the land. The mounting chaos and disunity angered the sea, which began to rise until it had covered the plains and threatened to flood the entire country. The people went to Bunjil and asked him to help them stop the sea from rising; Bunjil agreed to do so, but only if the people would change their ways and respect the laws and each other. He then walked out to the sea, raised his spear and ordered the water to stop rising.
It is believed by the Kulin and other Indigenous peoples that, in the Dreamtime, Bunjil took shelter in a cave located in the part of Gariwerd that is now known as the Black Range Scenic Reserve.
We then drove to Lake Fyans and had lunch by the water.
The view from the Royal Hotel in Dunkeld gave a perfect shot of Mt Sturgeon. We also drove through the arboretum at Dunkeld and look forward to coming back in years to come to see the difference when the trees are more mature.
From Dunkeld we drove home through the Wonderland and Victoria Range on one side and the Mount William and Serra Ranges on the other to Halls Gap. On the way we stopped at Piccaninny the summit provides excellent views of Dunkeld and Mount Abrupt.
On the way home we stopped at the far end of Lake Bellfield and had a look, we will have to come back and see the closer end to Halls Gap with the Dam.