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THE BEGINNING: FIRST NATIONS HISTORY

For the people of the Kulin Nation, the area on which Melbourne lay has been home for tens of thousands of years. Swamps, creeks, rivers, lagoons and marshes supported a variety of flora and fauna used for food, tools, shelter, canoes and other everyday commodities. These rich resources were sustained by holistic land management practices, while complex language and kinship systems sustained the social fabric of the community. 
The development of Melbourne between the 1830s and 1850s altered this environment and led to the loss of traditional lands and resources. European colonisation brought disease, conflict, social breakdown and forced relocation, all of which lead to a dramatic decrease in the indigenous population.

Despite the extreme disruption, First Nations people continued to access their traditional lands and maintain their cultural identity as best they could.  They incorporated new materials into their cultural repertoire, showing great ingenuity, flexibility and resilience.

Discover the richness and diversity of First Nations cultural items in our Wesley Place collection. 

Flaked glass scraper (1855-1875)

Artefact ID: VAHR7822-4256

This rare glass scraper is listed on the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Register. It was expertly crafted using flaking techniques originally perfected for stone tools. It illustrates the ingenuity of Aboriginal people in their re-use of discarded bottle glass to create highly useful tools with very sharp edges. Although it may have been used as a tool, it is also possible this beautifully sculpted object was valued as a keepsake by one of Jones Lane’s inhabitants.