Woi wurrung Bark Canoe
Canoe - Woi wurrung, Yarra Canoe, Bark, Melbourne, circa 1860s, Reg. No: X45168. Dimensions 32 cm (Height), 61.5 cm (Width), 451.5 cm (Length). Photographer: Benjamin Healley.Contributors
Released for use in this project. Permission to publish is required. Permission to use these photographs was kindly given by Elders of the Wurundjeri Tribe Land & Compensation Cultural Heritage Council Incorporated.Copyright
Image Copyright Museum Victoria 2003
This rare artefact is the only remaining 19th century Aboriginal canoe from the Melbourne region.
It was collected by the Buchan family in Kew, Victoria, probably from the banks of the Yarra River in Studley Park, in the 1870s. It is difficult to know when it was built.
The canoe is made from the bark of the Mountain Ash (Eucalyptus regnans). It is therefore probable that the canoe was made in the hills east of Melbourne, and brought down the Yarra River, a distance of over 50 kilometres.
The Yarra River was the territory of the Wurundjeri clan of the Woi wurrung speaking people. By the 1870s the Wurundjeri and many other clans of the Woi wurrung had settled at Coranderrk Aboriginal Reserve in the Yarra Ranges near Healesville, 65 kilometres east of where the canoe was found.
The canoe may have been built by people from Coranderrk and left on the river, or it may have been built before Coranderrk was established. The canoe could well have been sitting near the banks of the Yarra River for some years before being collected and stored by the Buchans.
The canoe incorporates a European technology - hoops from a barrel have been used to hold the bark. Possibly the Aboriginal makers used these hoops, combining a European material with the traditional design. Or they may have been added by the collector.
More information is available on the Museum Victoria Collections website at: http://collections.museumvictoria.com.au/items/199797