Victoria’s Great Ocean Road
It’s always been on the bucket list,
But all that changed in late 2019, as I set in motion long-held plans to circle wider Victoria between recording sessions with my old friend and songwriting partner Luke Price, a fellow former Novocastrian now based out of Melbourne.
Globally iconic, It’s the stuff of many a tourism ad.
It’s on all the postcards
LONDON BRIDGE - GREAT OCEAN ROAD
Sure you can get one or two of the major attractions to yourself for a brief moment, however it’s what is beyond the GOR that offers a true sense of charm with a unique experience and history without the hordes of tourists.
Our opportunity to experience the gems of Southwestern Victoria came when we brought the Roadshow to The Gordon Hotel in the Emerald City that is Portland.
A great example of the rewards you can receive if you just go that extra mile, or in this case the extra
130 miles or 210klms, from the official end of the Great Ocean Road.
White settlement of Victoria began here, a historical implication whose import is somewhat mired in a contradiction of Socratic irony, given it’s almost incidental significance when paralleled to the tens of thousands of years of indigenous history preserved here.
The Gunditjmara people are the traditional owners of much of south-west Victoria. A region replete with protected World Heritage archeological sites of cultural and environmental significance.
BUDJ BIM CULTURAL LANDSCAPE - RECREATION OF INDIGINOUS STONE AND MUD HUTS BUILT ON ORIGINAL FOUNDATIONS
UNESCO recognised archeological evidence of sedentary civilisations, such as weirs, fish traps and the foundations of hundreds of circular stone huts, are strewn throughout the countryside, and whose existence was vividly documented in the journals of early Australian explorers, historical records brought to prominence by esteemed author and revisionist Bruce Pascoe in his seminal work Dark Emu.
"The Budj Bim Cultural Landscape is located in the traditional Country of the Gunditjmara Aboriginal people in south-eastern Australia. The three serial components of the property contain one of the world’s most extensive and oldest aquaculture systems. The Budj Bim lava flows, which connect the three components, provides the basis for this complex aquaculture system developed by the Gunditjmara, based on deliberate redirection, modification and management of waterways and wetlands.
Over a period of at least 6,600 years the Gunditjmara created, manipulated and modified these local hydrological regimes and ecological systems. They utilised the abundant local volcanic rock to construct channels, weirs and dams and manage water flows in order to systematically trap, store and harvest kooyang (short-finned eel – Anguilla australis) and support enhancement of other food resources.
The highly productive aquaculture system provided a six millennia-long economic and social base for Gunditjmara society. This deep time interrelationship of Gunditjmara cultural and environmental systems is documented through present-day Gunditjmara cultural knowledge, practices, material culture, scientific research and historical documents. It is evidenced in the aquaculture system itself and in the interrelated geological, hydrological and ecological systems. The Budj Bim Cultural Landscape is the result of a creational process narrated by the Gunditjmara as a deep time story. For the Gunditjmara, deep time refers to the idea that they have always been there. From an archaeological perspective, deep time refers to a period of at least 32,000 years that Aboriginal people have lived in the Budj Bim Cultural Landscape. The ongoing dynamic relationship of Gunditjmara and their land is nowadays carried by knowledge systems retained through oral transmission and continuity of cultural practice". - https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1577/
PRESENTED BY THE CAPE COLLECTION
NAVY SHIP DOCKED IN PORTLAND, THE CREW PARTIED WITH US AT THE GORDON HOTEL WHILST ON SHORE LEAVE
The only deep sea port between Adelaide and Melbourne, Portland was instituted in 1834 as a rogue squatters settlement by the infamous Henty family, predating the founding of Melbourne by at least 12 months.
The Henty’s presence was "discovered" two years after settling in the area by the explorer Thomas Mitchell in 1836.
The Henty Hermit’s hideout wasn’t sanctioned by the British Colonial Office, who had still been considering how to deal with the rights to the land of indigenous Victorians, and whose policy at the time was to contain colonial settlements in Australia within geographic limits, making the Henty’s isolation illegal.
In 1832 the Henty brothers sailed from Mother England with their father Thomas, a successful sheep breeder. Initially settling at Swan River in Western Australia, after two failed summers the Henty's relocated to Van Diemen’s Land where they hoped to secure a freehold, but they were too late, as when they arrived there was no unoccupied productive land available.
Thomas Henty petitioned the British Government in London three times to settle in the Port Phillip district but was rejected on each occasion, as the British authorities forbade the settling of land that was not easily accessible from Sydney.
The Henty run was known as Merino Downs and is still owned by their descendants to this day.
In a recent article in "The Age," written by "J.M.R.," it is surmised that the Henty family contemplated settling at Portland Bay by means of a treaty with the blacks, because John Helder Wedge wrote from Campbell Town to Governor Arthur in Hobart on September 18, 1834, as follows: - "It has become known to me that a party has it in contemplation to take possession of a tract of country at Portland Bay, independent of His Majesty's Government, by virtue of a treaty with the natives. " Now the first mention of natives by the Hentys occurs in Edward's diary December 2, 1834, at a spot many miles from Portland. It was not until after two months' residence that any natives appear to have been seen near Hentys' settlement; the sealers and whalers of former years had no doubt driven the aborigines back from the locality. The Hentys, finding that the Government was endeavouring to prevent them settling at Portland Bay, may have mentioned that they would make a treaty with the blacks. This would give Wedge the material for his letter, though it does not appear certain that the Hentys were the people referred to in that document, as Wedge writes: - "A party has it in contemplation, &c." It is all rather indefinite, and the main fact remains, viz., no treaty with the natives was made at Portland Bay by Henty or any other person. Source : "The Portland Bay Settlement" - Noel F. Learmonth, 1934