Traditional Owners and cultural heritage

Managing Country together

We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the Gippsland Water area, the Gunaikurnai people and the Bunurong people, and recognise their strong cultural connection to the land and waterways.

We’ve developed our Inclusion Plan to create long-term opportunities to collaborate with Traditional Owners in the management of Country and heritage that exists on land we manage.

The plan is our pathway to continue to move beyond our compliance obligations so that we strengthen the partnership with Traditional Owners and connection to the Aboriginal community.

The plan puts us in a better position to respond to important changes in the way Traditional Owner rights and recognised and enabled by supporting the self-determination of the Aboriginal community.

Aboriginal artwork

These artworks are a visual celebration of our ongoing commitment to working in partnership with the Traditional Custodians of our region.

By demonstrating our deep respect for Aboriginal culture and highlighting the historical significance and ongoing connection Gunaikurnai and Bunurong people have to Country, we hope to create a culturally safe and respectful environment for Aboriginal employees, customers and visitors.  

These works were commissioned from local Aboriginal artists to represent the Country we operate on and reflect the nature of the work we do as caretakers of our precious environment.

Cultural Flow by Alice Pepper© 2023
'Cultural Flow' by Alice Pepper

Cultural Flow, Alice Pepper 2023 

Artist’s biography:

Alice lives in Lakes Entrance with her family and has cultural connections to the Gunnai, Yorta Yorta/Mutti Mutti, Gunditjmarra and Arrernte peoples. Alice is a proud Koorie woman, mum, wife and active community member. She is passionate about the arts and cultural expression through local stories, songs, language and dance that connects her to Country. Alice experiments with different mediums, including possum skins, painting, weaving and dance, practicing the skills and knowledge that has been passed onto her by her elders and cultural specialists.

Story of the art, adapted from the words of the artist:

In dreaming time, Boorun, the pelican, came down from the mountains. He is the first Gunnai/Kurnai and the father of the five clans. He is always seen on the waterways and reminds us of the Songlines he followed through Country, across the waters, and the creation of our people.

The Spoonbill of Gippsland Water’s logo has been recreated with the traditional line work of Gunnai/Kurnai. Painting the bird here with Boorun represents Gippsland Water working with Traditional Custodians to ensure the waterways are cared for, preserved and protected for future generations. Together we will look over them with pride, just how Boorun and the Spoonbill are doing here.

The bright colours represent the waterways here on Gunnai/Kurnai Country. The vibrant blue represents pristine waters and how we would like it to be for our future generations, by all of us working together to keep its natural and cultural flow.

Our ancestors and people are depicted in the shape of rock formation at the top and bottom of the picture. We are always connected to them and follow in their footprints on land, in sky and water. They are always looking over us, lifting us up when we need.

Beside the water are traditional Gunnai/Kurnai markings that are found in and along the waterways and riverbeds, in the form of grinding stones used to sharpen stone tools for fishing. Another message within the land left by our ancestors.

Throughout the picture there are many meeting places depicted around our waterways, showing our people gathering throughout Gunnai/Kurnai Country for seasonal ceremonies, knowledge sharing and cultural traditions.

In the middle are our children and elders, who are continuing the tradition of passing down oral stories, as our people have done for many of thousands of years. They are sharing knowledge about how to care for our waterways, and the importance of only taking what we need so the fish will always flow in abundance for all. Water is life for all of us, including the plants and animals that are our totems.

Boorun & Tuk Creation Story, along with other Gunai/Kurnai creation stories, can be found at: Stories & Songlines, Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation 

‘Water Connection’ by Lakeisha Clayton
‘Water Connection’ by Lakeisha Clayton

Water Connection, Lakeisha Clayton 2023

Artist biography:

My name is Lakeisha Clayton I’m a proud Mutti Mutti Bunurong woman. Born in Mildura Vic raised in Brisbane but have always been back to my Father’s Country (in Balranald Mutti Mutti Country) then eventually moved down to Melbourne and worked on Bunurong Country for 7 years. In that time I’ve done a lot of work and also learnt about me and that’s when I started painting. I was always interested in art growing up but never thought that I would actually make artwork that people wanted to buy. All this wouldn’t be if it wasn’t for my Father. He taught me song lines about our dreamtime stories. Can’t thank him enough for what I do now. So now everything I do I do for my younger brothers.

Story of the art:

It means that every waterway brings a connection to our people and many travel far and wide for our resources. Water is our main connection to life. Water brings everyone together.