Melbourne Museum

Bunjilaka

Bunjilaka is a major destination for teachers and students who are searching for meaningful inclusion of Indigenous peoples perspectives on Australia's history, law, politics and contemporary society.

The name 'Bunjilaka' is derived from two words in the Woiwurrung language from the Melbourne region: Bunjil, meaning 'creator', and, aka meaning 'soil or ground'. It signifies the land created by Bunjil, a significant creation ancestor from south-eastern Australia. The name was decided by the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Advisory Committee of the Museums Board following discussion with representatives of Woiwurrung and Boon wurrung peoples.

Bunjilaka is a multi-purpose venue offering a varied range of programs, services and activities including exhibitions, information, demonstrations, performances, workshops, educational activities and catered functions. Bunjilaka comprises four major spaces:

  • Jumbunna, a Woiwurrung word meaning story telling, is the exhibition gallery and temporary exhibition space;
  • Milarri, a Woiwurrung, a word meaning 'outside', is an outdoor garden with a performance space; a link space; capable of supporting programs and functions. This also includes Wurreka, the zinc wall art installation. This is a Wamba Wamba word meaning to speak;
  • Kalaya, a Wamba Wamba word meaning to ask questions, is an activities area, and performance space and;
  • Wilam Liwik, a Woiwurrung word meaning Camp of Elders, is the Elders meeting Room.

Exhibitions

Themes, objects and images have been chosen to tell stories about Indigenous Australian people, their close association to the land, and their law and knowledge systems. Exhibitions promote an understanding of the history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It explores the importance of land to Indigenous people throughout Australia, and some of the issues faced by Indigenous people trying to negotiate their status in a colonised nation.

Bunjilaka has attempted to exhibit Aboriginal history and culture as dynamic, resonating with Australian contemporary issues and realities. The three exhibition zones are:

Koorie Voices celebrates the history, dignity and survival of Aboriginal communities in Victoria. It includes encounters with European people on Aboriginal land, case studies of communities regaining autonomy and issues related to the stolen generations.

Belonging to Country explores the strong spiritual associations Indigenous Australians have with the land. A close look at Indigenous art and objects reveals the complex issues relating to Indigenous people's cultural and political identity and history. It addresses the issue of the importance of Indigenous peoples' perspectives and knowledge as an essential part of the management of both the natural and cultural resources of the land.

Two Laws explores the themes of Aboriginal knowledge, law and property. It also speaks to the relationship (past, present and future) between Aboriginal people and Anglo-Australian law. Two Laws addresses issues such as cultural and intellectual property rights, repatriation, and the meaning of 'Dreamtime'.

Milarri - The Outdoor Garden

Milarri is an outdoor space planted with vegetation well known to Aboriginal peoples around Victoria for food, shelter and medicines as well as many other uses. The setting is informal encouraging interaction, but also have the ability to provide a restful, reflective space.

The Garden provides an indigenous perspective and understanding of the importance of specific elements of the natural environment. A 'walking trail' will provide additional layers of information and links with the exhibitions inside Bunjilaka.

For more information, visit the website of Museum Victoria