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.
Traditional uses of mangroves and other plants in the mangrove habitat provided a source of food, medicine, and tools for the Aborigines. Further information on this can be found in a paper titled “Magroves 5: Use by Aborigines (Mangrove as a larder)” by Dr. Michael Michie.
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: