Before the arrival of the Europeans the Torquay region was occupied by the Wadawurrung tribe of aborigines who followed a nomadic existence for thousands of years.

Grounded in truth | Pursuit by The University of Melbourne

Indigenous Australians are the first peoples of Australia

They include Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islander people who hold a unique place in Australian history and continue to make an essential contribution to our ongoing national development and identity.

Today, there are over 20,000 Aboriginal people living in Victoria. After 150 years of contact with Europeans, Victorian Aborigines still form a distinct cultural group in Australian society known as “Koories”.

While Koories are obviously not hunting, fishing and gathering people in the traditional sense any more, they are a people who have adapted to many significant changes over the past 150 years, and survived. They still retain many aspects of their traditional culture and through historical circumstances and economic necessity have blended with it many aspects of European society.[1]

It is estimated that between 20,000 and 60,000 people, speaking over 30 languages, lived throughout ‘Victoria’ when Europeans arrived in 1835.  The rapid colonisation resulted in a devastating loss of languages, traditions and lives.  During this violent period of Victorian history, families were forced off their lands and onto missions.  These were bitter-sweet places.  They were a home and haven from the violence but also a place where there was little choice except conformity with Christianity and Western ways.  Ironically, it was from these missions that well-known activists rose to fight for better conditions for their people.

Today well over 25,000 Aboriginal people live throughout Victoria, and this number is growing.


Eidelson, M. 1997.  The Melbourne Dreaming.  Aboriginal Studies Press.

Pressland, G. 1994.  Aboriginal Melbourne.  McPhee Gribble.

Brough Smyth, R. 1878.  The Aborigines of Victoria.  Melbourne


Further Information

First Peoples – State Relations | First Peoples – State Relations (

ANTaR |Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation (Victoria, Australia)

[1] Wayne Atkinson, Koorie Oral Historian, ANZAAS Conference 1985 (Wayne presently works out of Melbourne University and can be contacted there)  From Aboriginal Perspectives Across the Curriculum