Wurundjeri people: Moreland's original inhabitants

The area we know today as Moreland was for tens of thousands of years a sparsely wooded forest with native grasslands. The Merri Creek wound its way through a fertile flood plain, or terrace, about 300 metres wide. Fertile soils in the area grew gum and paperbark trees, bottlebrush and tea trees. 

The Moonee Ponds Creek, older than the Merri Creek, originally cut as deep as 10 metres into the sandstone.  


This was the original landscape which provided an important source of water and food for the Aborigines who hunted in the area.

Iramoo, the area between the Yarra and the Maribyrnong rivers, included the land where Moreland stands today. The Wurundjeri - Willam line of the white gum tree clan, regarded Iramoo as sacred country.

The Wurundjeri people post-contact

William Barak was a member of the Wurundjeri tribe, a sub-tribe of the Woiwurrung tribe. As a young boy on 6 June 1835 he witnessed the signing of the ‘Batman’ treaty (Treaty of Iramoo), on the banks of the Merri Creek near the present border of Fitzroy. In fact, Barak’s father was a signatory of the treaty together with seven other tribal chiefs.

For the payment of blankets, knives, looking glasses, axes, beads, scissors and flour John Batman ‘purchased’ Iramoo from the local Aboriginal people.

Members of the white gum tree clan were among those who went to Coranderrk - an Aboriginal Station. Coranderrk station was 2300 acres of land at Healesville, established in June 1863 by the Board for the Protection of Aborigines. Detention at Coranderrk interrupted the traditional Aboriginal way of life: it was akin to captivity.

Fortunately, Aborigines, including direct descendants of William Barak who died in 1903 as the last Chief and sole survivor of the Woiwurrung tribe, have continued to live and work in the municipality of Moreland which remains to them part of the proud, fertile and spiritual grounds of Iramoo. 

Aboriginal sites in Moreland

The Moreland Pre-Contact Aboriginal Heritage Study includes historical information on the Woi wurrung. It also lists and describes archaeological surveys carried out in and around Moreland and looks at the effect of urban development on Moreland's Aboriginal archaeological sites.

Moreland Post-Contact Aboriginal Heritage Study lists and describes important Aboriginal sites - places, landscapes and buildings - in Moreland. These sites are not the usual archaeological 'finds' but are places of significance to Aboriginal people since contact with Europeans.


Read more about early Aboriginal life in Moreland

  • When the Wattles Bloom Again: The Life and Times of William Barak Last Chief of the Yarra Yarra Tribe by S. W. Wiencke, published by Globe Press P/L in 1984.
  • Brunswick: One History Many Voices, City of Brunswick, edited by Helen Penrose, published by Victoria Press in 1994.
  • Indigenous history of Moreland.