Traditional Owner Presence
Before it was the Sale Botanic Gardens, the site homed many culturally-significant flora and fauna species for the Traditional Owners - the Gunaikurnai.

What European colonisers named Flooding Creek, then Sale, was originally Wayput (‘The Heart'). Sited in Brayakooloong Country, the Traditional Owners of the Land - the Gunaikurnai - used the local wetlands like a supermarket.

Wayput was part of a significant traditional route used by the Gunaikurnai for more than 30,000 years, which locally also includes the Knob Reserve overlooking the Dooyeedang (Avon River). A population regularly on the move, Gunaikurnai families travelled where food, water and other resources were plentiful at particular times of the year, collecting food as they went and constructing camps and shelters at sites along travel routes.

The critically endangered Gippsland Redgum (Eucalyptus tereticornis subsp.Mediana).

Wayput’s natural environment was an important resource for the Gunaikurnai for many thousands of years, as the fertile wetlands played host to numerous plants and birds - important resources for the Gunaikurnai. The Sale Botanic Gardens, banks of lakes Guthridge and Guyatt and nearby Durt-Yowan (Latrobe River) still have many families of culturally significant Gippsland Redgums (Eucalyptus tereticornis subsp.Mediana), which can live for more than 1000 years.

“The wood was much prized for making boomerangs, shields, and weapons. The bark was used for canoes, shields, infant carriers and for wrapping up the deceased. Burls were cut to make bowls. The seeds were eaten, and the sap was used as medicine to treat burns and diarrhoea. The tree also provided a look-out and habitat for other food sources and resources such as birds, beehives, and possums. Prior to European settlement, most people in Victoria wore a possum skin cloak.” – Batalak Cultural Trail

The soaked bark of Australian Blackwood (Acacia melanoxylon) (pictured left)- prolific along the banks of Lake Guyatt - was used as a treatment for rheumatic joints. While Water Ribbons (Triglochin procerum) (pictured right) tubers growing in nearby Flooding Creek.

The Gunaikurnai made canoes from a single piece of the Redgum’s bark or stringybark by softening it over a fire, bending it into shape, then tying the ends - using them to traverse the waterways.

“Many different plants [found in what is now the Sale Botanic Gardens] were used for food and medicines, and to produce baskets, nets, and tools. The underground tubers of Water Ribbons (Triglochin procerum) [growing in what is now Lake Guthridge and nearby Flooding Creek] for example, were and still are, a popular food.” - Gunaikurnai Whole-of-Country Plan, ‘Our Story – Our Ancient Past’ (2015)

As well as food, shelter and tools, the area also provided numerous remedies, with Australian Blackwood (Acacia melanoxylon or Blackwood wattle) specifically sought out by the Gunaikurnai as a treatment for rheumatic joints. Once the bark was heated and soaked in water, the Gunaikurnai bathed their ailing joints for relief. The Traditional Owners also valued the wattle’s particularly dense wood for spears and shields, and wove its inner fibres into fishing lines.

“Our Country was created by the spirits – the ancestors who link us to the land and bestow on us identity, rights and responsibilities. They defined our relationship with the land – how it should be used, how to move through it safely and how to care for it. In return, Country provided physical and spiritual nourishment for our people, with plentiful food, medicine, water and natural resources for survival.”

“We see our land (Wurruk), waters (Yarnda), air (Watpootjan) and every living thing as one. All things come from Wurruk, Yarnda and Watpootjan and they are the spiritual life-giving resource, providing us with resources and forming the basis of our cultural practices. We have a cultural responsibility to ensure that all of it is looked after.” - Gunaikurnai Whole-of-Country Plan (2015)

The shields depicted are the official shields and spelling of the Gunaikurnai clans, as endorsed by the GLaWAC Elders’ Council. GLaWAC recognises the strong cultural input of Uncle Jock Hood and other Elders in drawings currently used to represent the five clans of the Gunaikurnai. The shield highlighted in ochre is the shield of the Brayakaulung - people who lived around Wayput (Sale).


People in South Gippsland. From Cape Liptrap and Tarwin Meadows east to the mouth of Merriman Creek; inland to near Mirboo; at Port Albert and Wilsons Promontory.


People around the current site of Sale. Providence Ponds, Avon and Latrobe Rivers; west of Lake Wellington to Mounts Baw Baw and Howitt.


People in Central Gippsland. Mitchell, Nicholson, and Tambo Rivers; south to about Bairnsdale and Bruthen.


People near Lakes Entrance on the coast. Along Ninety Mile Beach and about Lakes Victoria and Wellington from Lakes Entrance southwest to mouth of Merriman Creek; also on Raymond Island in Lake King.


People near the Snowy River. Cape Everard (Point Hicks) to Lakes Entrance; on Cann, Brodribb, Buchan and Snowy Rivers; inland to about Black Mountain.

For more information, visit Bataluk Cultural Trail or Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation

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