Prior to the arrival of Europeans, the Wathaurong people occupied what is now known as the Bellarine Peninsula.
Geelong itself was first 'established' by Europeans between 1836-1838. As a result of declining food sources (due to the introduction of sheep and cattle) and a severe influenza epidemic in 1839, the Wathaurong population began to decline rapidly. By 1853 the Wathaurong numbered 30-40, compared to 300 seventeen years earlier living permanently around Geelong (Heritage Branch, Aboriginal Affairs Victoria).
Most of the history around Geelong highlights and promotes William Buckley - the non-Indigenous escapee who lived for over 30 years with one of the Wathaurong clan groups.
One hundred and forty archaeological sites have been recorded in the Bellarine region; they are a testimony to the large array of human pursuits carried out by the Wathaurong.
The traditional boundaries of the Wathaurong peoples start along the coastline from Werribee to the Lorne Peninsula area. It traverses inland to Colac, through to Cressy onwards to Ballarat. Within these boundaries there were approximately 14 clan groups who were traditional owners of their particular ancestral site.
Today the Wathaurong Co-operative in North Geelong is a key means by which the Wathaurong people are maintaing their cultural identity.
To learn more about the Wathaurong people, contact:
Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-operative
Lot 62 Morgan Street
Tel. 5277 0044
Fax: 5278 4123
Click above for transcript of an interview with Trevor Edwards, custodian of the Wathaurong land and Chairperson of the Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-operative.