It was Dorothy Sutherland, a member of the Hawthorn Historical Society, who came up with the idea of creating an Aboriginal food garden along the Yarra River. The garden began in 1990 and was named after a Woirurrung clan who claim land by the Yarra River. The Gardens were a joint project of Hawthorn Council and the Society whose members removed rampant onion weed and ivy – in the process uncovering part of a bluestone wall – replacing them with endemic native plant species and foods. These plants were used by the local Wurundjeri people for food, fibre and medicine.
On the banks of the Yarra near the Wallen Road Bridge in Hawthorn, the garden is a successful effort to recreate something of the landscape as it may have been before the impact of Europeans. Now in its 27th year, the garden continues to be managed by the Society and the City of Boroondara and is an educational resource for Wurundjeri plants.
In 1837 the first Europeans settled in the Boroondara area and one of 38 local Indigenous groups in the region at the time was the Wurundjeri. When Robert Hoddle surveyed the area in 1837, he declared it the ‘Parish of Boroondara’. As it was densely wooded he took the word from the Woiwurrung language, translating it as ‘where the ground is thickly shaded’.
There are 10 Aboriginal archaeological sites within Boroondara. In addition to these sites, three cultural places are significant to local history and reconciliation. Dorothy thanks her dedicated core of Friends of Wurundjeri Garden who have been involved with the project for nearly thirty years. The Hawthorn Historical Society suggests that you’ll be ‘delighted’ if you visit the garden and ponder the history of the Yarra and people who have touched it. Celebrate the vision that has led to the garden being there. You will also discover lots of information on the display signage but, if you want something to keep, pop into Hawthorn Library and get your free copy of the Wurundjeri Garden Guide for Visitors and the Wurundjeri Garden Plant list. The garden is on Glan Avon Road, Morang Reserve, in Hawthorn.