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The Kooyoora State Park is a culturally important place for the Traditional Owners of central Victoria, the Dja Dja Wurrung People. Through the Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation (trading as DJAARA), the Dja Dja Wurrung People are seeking to reinvigorate Kooyoora State Park to showcase and share their living culture with the community.

Kooyoora State Park is jointly managed between DJAARA and the State Government, through Parks Victoria. Through the Joint Management Plan, a ‘Strategic Vision’ has been developed to improve visitor and recreational facilities in the Melville Caves area and adjoining trail network. These areas include the existing picnic area, camping area, main lookout, and trail network. The project aims to showcase Dja Dja Wurrung’s presence in the landscape in a modern way. DJAARA is managing the planning, design, and delivery of the project.

Embedding culture in the landscape

DJAARA CEO, Rodney Carter, said: “Placing Djaara (Dja Dja Wurrung People) back into the landscape is key to cultural revival. The Joint Management Plan created and complimented by the Dhelkunya Dja (Healing Country) Country Plan now more than ever before gives us a creative licence to explore the embedding of our culture into creating experiences for the enjoyment and celebration of Victorians to Central Victoria. We are sure others will support these exciting new developments for our Joint Managed Lands.”

Parks Victoria’s Regional Director, Daniel McLaughlin, said: “These improvements at Kooyoora State Park are some of the actions that were determined in the Joint Management Plan, released in 2018. Djaara, as the Traditional Owners, are actively managing the parks in partnership with Parks Victoria, and this project is a great example of managing Country together

DJAARA will be informing and consulting with the local community throughout the planning process, ensuring that everyone has the chance to be involved and heard. The visitor and recreational facility improvements in the Melville Caves area are planned to be delivered by early 2022 and the trail upgrades to be delivered by late 2022. For more information on the Kooyoora State Park – Joint Management Implementation we have provided a fact sheet below.

The planned improvements will embed Dja Dja Wurrung values into the landscape using Dja Dja Wurrung styled design and infrastructure, incorporating opportunities for traditional cultural practices and customs, and improving the visitor experience through upgrading amenities and the level of service. This project also aims to provide economic benefits for Dja Dja Wurrung People, the local community and tourism benefits to the region.

For more information about the Kooyoora State Park fact sheet, please click here.