Take a walk from Melbourne's city centre, to parks and nearby neighbourhoods. You'll find Aboriginal landmarks, artefacts, stories and history along the way. Detour from the busy streets on this full day walk, to trace the steps of Aboriginal ancestors and community past, present and emerging. Start early with a coffee in your re-usable cup, and stop off for lunch at a restaurant cooking with native Australian ingredients on the way.

  • Morning walk, Royal Botanic Gardens

    Your journey begins in a lush city oasis in the heart of Wurundjeri country.

    The area now known as the City of Yarra stands on the traditional lands of the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people, part of the Kulin Nation. Their connection to the land and its waterways extends back tens of thousands of years to the beginning of time when their creator spirit Bunjil formed the land and all living things.

    The Royal Botanic Gardens Aboriginal Heritage Walk runs each day at 11am (except Saturdays) and takes you through the ancestral lands of the local Kulin nation, including a traditional meeting place. Walk through the verdant surrounds with an Aboriginal guide, who explains the traditional uses of plants for food, tools and medicine as well as the history and contemporary life of their people.

  • Water and wood, Yarra Park

    From the Botanic Gardens, head north-east to Morell Bridge and walk over the Yarra River, which was initially called Birrarung by the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people. The word 'Birrarung'  tells the story of a ‘river of shadow and mist’ in the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung language.

    Continue past the MCG and into Yarra Park, which is home to several 'scar trees' – large river red gums that bear scars from Aboriginal ceremonies. These trees are thought to be up to 800 years old and were used to make boats, shields, housing and other items. Look for one beside the path as you walk from Punt Road Oval into the centre of the park.

    Continue your walk through Yarra Park and take the William Barak Bridge – named after the important Wurundjeri artist, activist and headman – from the MCG to Birrarung Marr. Look out for the Birrarung Wilam Aboriginal art installation in the park, and then follow the river along to Federation Square.

  • Lunch along the Yarra, stroll into Fitzroy

    Time for lunch at Big Esso by Mabu Mabu. Slip into the Indigenous owned and run all-day bar and kitchen, helmed by Torres Strait Islander chef Nornie Bero, and tuck into creative share plates full of native Australian flavours. 

    Full to the brim, head along Flinders Street and enter the tree-lined paths of Fitzroy Gardens, where you can see another scarred red gum (now a preserved stump). Emerge at the northern edge and walk up to Gertrude St, Fitzroy. Strolling this trendy cosmopolitan strip, you might get a sense of the immense energy that has flowed through this place. Some of Australia's largest and most important Aboriginal community organisations have emerged from Fitzroy and this street in particular.

    Look for plaques that reveal the history of the buildings. The Koori Information Centre, Victorian Aboriginal Health Service, The Koori Club and the Aboriginal Housing Board of Victoria were all located here previously, and Melbourne Aboriginal Youth, Sport and Recreation is still at number 184.

    Squeeze in a pint at the Builder's Arms Hotel. This pub was an important Aboriginal social and political gathering place from the 1940s until the 1980s. Many older members of Melbourne's Aboriginal community retain fond memories of the Builders. Look for a plaque on the pub’s facade.

  • Stories in Melbourne Museum and Carlton Gardens

    Head along Gertrude Street towards the Carlton Gardens, and contemplate the area's modern Aboriginal history. When Victoria's 'Half-Caste Act' of 1886 forced many Aboriginal people into boarding houses that forbade social or political meetings, members of this community began to gather in public spaces. From the 1920s to 1940s, one of the most important of these meeting places was the Moreton Bay Fig tree, which stands proudly at the Gertrude Street entrance of Carlton Gardens. Many legendary speakers addressed regular social gatherings at this site to speak of justice and rights for their people.

    The Carlton Gardens is on land that has been significant to Aboriginal people for thousands of years. Set within the gardens, the world-class Melbourne Museum is home to the Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre. Enter to hear stories of history, culture, achievements and survival against the odds. Wander out to Milari Garden to touch and smell plants of significance to Victoria's Aboriginal people. You can even watch a writhing mass of hungry eels gobble up their lunch.

  • New and old in Federation Square

    Head back to the fig tree and grab a 96 tram into the city. Hop off at Bourke St/Swanston St and walk south, returning to Federation Square. Here you’ll find The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia. The home of Australian art, this gallery houses an incredible collection of Indigenous art from as far back as 1898 through to the current day, and often has exhibitions celebrating artists such as Albert Namatjira and Emily Kam Kngwarray.

    Alternatively, make a stop in at Koorie Heritage Trust – one of the largest collections of Koorie art and artefacts on permanent display with almost 4000 items including boomerangs, shields, spear throwers, clubs, canoes, baskets, eel traps, possum-skin cloaks – even carved emu eggs. You can also get hands-on with a basket-weaving or mobile-making workshop.

    Extra time? Come back on Wednesdays or Saturdays at 1pm for the Birrarung Wilam (River Camp) Walk. You'll join an experienced Koorie guide on a walk to learn how this land has changed over time. You'll learn about the significance of the Birrarung Wilam to the local Kulin peoples, and gain a deeper and more meaningful understanding of the trail you've walked. It's a great way to see this beautiful city from a new perspective.