6,600-year-old Aboriginal engineering site nominated for World Heritage listing

Catherine Garrett

Engineers Australia has welcomed news the Federal Government has submitted a nomination for the Budj Bim site near Lake Condah to be included on Australia’s World Heritage Tentative List.

Traps built by the Gunditjmara people 6,600 years ago to catch eels near Lake Condah are among the oldest surviving examples of aquaculture and a unique example of engineering ingenuity and sustainability.

In 2011, Engineers Australia’s Heritage Committee, with the support of the Traditional owners declared the site as an Engineering Heritage National Landmark. 

Engineering Heritage Victoria Chair David LeLievre says the Gunditjmara engineers who created the hydraulic works were ingenious in their design.

‘’The traps are a series of canals and ponds built around the lake. The Gunditjmara people placed baskets at the spillway between ponds to catch the eels and harvest them for food and trade. This allowed a sustainable and permanent way of life for hundreds of generations.

“Attaining sustainable engineering outcomes in 2017 has its challenges – Budj Bim achieved it for thousands of years,” Mr LeLievre said.

The Budj Bim site received National Heritage listing in 2004 and after the Traditional owners campaigned to be included on the World Heritage List - the Federal Government agreed to nominate it.

The Budj Bim Cultural Landscape must be on Australia’s World Heritage Tentative List for at least a year before the United Nations’ World Heritage Committee determines which nominations it will accept.