The area now known as Melbourne is close to rich food sources in Port Phillip and the surrounding grasslands, and had long been occupied by Kulin clans and thier five Aboriginal language groups by the time of early white settlement. New arrivals grew the area's population to 700,000 by 1869.
Bunjil, the spiritual creator, taking the form of a wedge-tail eagle, gave life to the first people, the rivers, the mountains, the animals and trees – all living and natural things in the Kulin Nation. Today, the Kulin Nation continues to live, practise and strengthen its customs in urban Melbourne through the Boonwurrung and Woiwurrung people. Visit the Koorie Heritage Trust and the multi-award-winning Bunjilaka at the Melbourne Museum. Journey into the ancestral lands of the Kulin nation and explore their rich and thriving culture on a heritage walk in the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne.
Settlers arrive by sea
The first white settlers sailed into Port Phillip Bay in 1835 and set up a trading post. The timber two-masted Enterprize Tall Ship is a replica of the first vessel to bring British settlers to Melbourne in 1835. Visitors can set sail from Docklands on a bay cruise, charter, or overnight voyage to Geelong.
Moored at South Wharf, Polly Woodside is an historic museum ship and another tangible reminder of Australia's rich maritime heritage. Built in Belfast in 1885, the three-masted cargo vessel plied routes between England and South America, and later carried coal, grain and timber on the New Zealand–Australia run. Visitors can go aboard for a taste of life on a tall ship.
See the restoration of the Alma Doepel in Victoria Harbour. Built in 1903, the three-masted topsail schooner was built in Bellingen, NSW, for coastal trading. It is the last remaining vessel known as a ‘trading ketches’, still capable of operating as a sailing vessel.