Aboriginal Stone Houses – Re-construction Project

Indigenous Architecture Victoria (IAV), and the Reconciliation Action Plan Working Party for the AIA (VIC Chapter) are teaming up for the Melbourne Architecture Annual (MAA) on a project to recreate some traditional Aboriginal stone houses.

Near Lake Condah, in the Gunditjmara country of south-western Victoria are the reminders of some very unique architectural and archaeological features.  The area is home to the Budj Bim National Heritage Landscape that contains one of Australia’s largest aquaculture systems. Dating back thousands of years, the area shows evidence of a large, settled Aboriginal community systematically farming and smoking eels for food and trade. Along with this stone system of weirs, the nature of the landscape, and the abundance of food, led to one of the few examples of Aboriginal stone housing in Australia.

The stone houses were made from the basalt outcrops that are spread all over the landscape. The houses were only small, roughly 1 to 2 metres in diameter and were formed in the shape of a C. There is still some conjecture about the exact nature of the stone houses, namely the exact height of the walls and the type of roof that would have enclosed them. Rueben Berg, a Gunditjmara man, will work closely with the local Aboriginal community, Aboriginal Affairs Victoria, and archaeologists to try and rebuild the stone houses as accurately as possible.

The hope is that these stone houses can be recreated in a prominent Melbourne CBD location, like Federation Square (see Image 1 for potential locations). This would then raise the public awareness of this amazing, but sadly largely unknown, part of Australian history and help reinforce the notion that vibrant, sustainable communities existed here in Victoria for thousands of years.

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