Aboriginal sites and experiences on the Great Ocean Road

tower hill near warrnambool australia

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The area that the Great Ocean Road covers are the traditional lands of the Wadawurrung people and Eastern Maar people. There is evidence that their ancestors lived in this area for around 40,000 years before European settlement.

Conflicts, land clearing and the imposition of a new way of life  arrival of British colonists had a devastating impact on the local communities. Blanket Bay is the site of a massacre of Aboriginal people including women and children in 1845.

Today all Aboriginal cultural places and artefacts in Victoria are protected by law.

Narana Aboriginal Cultural Centre

Learn about Aboriginal culture, visit the gallery and cafe and meet the resident wallabies, kangaroo and emus at Narana Aboriginal Cultural Center found on the way to Torquay and the start of the Great Ocean Road. The cafe’s menu features dishes inspired by indigenous ingredients and the there is a shop where you can buy a didgeridoo, boomerang and handmade indigenous items – more information

Nearest town: Geelong

Point Addis Koorie Cultural Walk

This 2 kilometre trail winds through coastal bush from the carpark at Point Addis. Along the way, stop at the information signs to learn about the traditional lands of the Wathaurong people and their special relationship with the landscape. The one hour return walk also includes stops for spectacular views and at a memorial to escaped convict William Buckley who lived with the clan for over 30 years  – more information

Nearest town: Torquay

Cape Otway Lightstation

Visit Cape Otway Lightstation to discover the rich history of Gadubanud country, home to five clans across south western Victoria who speak the Gundidjmara language. Here you can learn about the fascinating archaeological discoveries and excavations into middens or piles of the remains of shells and meals eaten by Aboriginal people. Join one of the native plant talks to learn about the medicinal properties of the local species – more information

Nearest town: Apollo Bay

Tower Hill

Explore the remains of an extinct volcano at Tower Hill, an important site for the Koroit-gunditj and Peek Whurrong people, different clans of the Gunditjmara Nation. Archaeological excavations at the site have uncovered artefacts such as axe heads in the volcanic ash preserved from when the volcano last exploded 32,000 years ago. At the Tower Hill visitor centre you can join guided bush walks and learn about the abundant native fauna and flora of the area – more information

Nearest town: Warrnambool

Further afield

gariwerd aboriginal site

Budj Bim

An hour’s drive north west from Warrnambool, Budj Bim is a national park and home to the Gunditjmara people who over 6,000 years developed one of the world’s largest and oldest aquaculture networks. They created a complex system of channels, weirs and dams that work to contain floodwaters and then create basins that trap, store and harvest the kooyang eel (Anguilla australis). The Budj Bim Cultural Landscape is one of 20 places in Australia on UNESCO’s world heritage list more information


Named the Grampians by European settlers, Gariwerd is a spiritual place for the Djab Wurrung and the Jardwadjali people. Here you will find the mountains, flora and fauna that inspired many Dreaming stories as well as 90% of the Aboriginal rock art sites in Victoria. Visit the Brambuk Cultural centre at Halls Gap to discover more about this ancient landscape. You can reach Dunkeld at the southern end of the national park in just over an hour from Warrnambool – more information

Looking for exciting things to see and do when you visit the Great Ocean Road?

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Check out our itinerary ideas for your trip to the Surf and Shipwreck coasts

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