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History of Western Port & Region

Aboriginal History

The Bunurong (Boonerwrung) people are the indigenous people from the Western Port area. They have lived around Western Port for thousands of years, enjoying a range of shellfish, mutton birds and plant life.

The Bunurong people are one of five Aboriginal language groups, that make up the Kulin (Koolin) nation of peoples.
There are five clans within the Bunurong territory. Western Port is part of the Mayone-Bulluk clan (top of the Mornington Peninsula and head of Western Port) and the Yallock-Bulluk clan (near the Bass River on the eastern catchment of Western Port).

The Bunurong people have two creation totems, Bunjil the Eaglehawk and Waang the Crow.

Links - Aboriginal History

Image: Lithograph of drawing by Louis de Sainson of the crew of the French corvette l'Astrolabe fishing in "Mangrove Creek"
(the Rhyll Inlet) during Dumont d'Urville's visit to  Western Port in 1826. Image courtesy State Library of Victoria.

European Discovery & Settlement

The first recorded European to discover Western Port was George Bass on 5th January 1798, when he and his volunteer crew entered Western Port in their small whale boat that had set off from Sydney in December 1797 to explore land breaks between Tasmania and mainland Australia. The name “Western Port” being apt for the time, as it was the most westerly port from the fledgling colony at Sydney.

A lovely account of the early European discoveries is provided by John Barnard, a director of the Western Port Seagrass Partnership.

Exploration of Western Port – PDF
Links - Regional History

Receive a free DVD. Register here and receive a free copy of the Western Port DVD. Includes a documentary hosted by John Clarke and earlier footage from the 1970s and 80s. This DVD is the comprehensive Western Port package. Offer available to Australian residents only. International queries and multiple copies can be requested via email to

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Western Port Seagrass Partnership would like to thank ESSO Australia Pty Ltd for its sponsorship of Western Port Cherished and Challenged DVD.

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