Kurtonitj Indigenous Protected Area
Victoria | Declared in November 2009
Kurtonitj Indigenous Protected Area is a beautiful 353 hectare marshland halfway between Victoria's Mt Eccles volcanic plain and the sea. Right in the centre of the Budj Bim National Heritage Landscape - Kurtonitj is sacred to the Gunditjmara people with enormous cultural, archaeological and environmental significance.
The natural landscape is formed by deep freshwater marshes and seasonally inundated shallow marshes. The property's western boundary is bordered by the crystal clear waters of Darlots Creek, known as Kallara in Gunditjmara language. Many cultural sites important to the Gunditjmara people are found here. Ancient stone Kooyang, or eel traps, and stone channels, house sites and Kooyang smoking trees are scattered across the dramatic landscape.
As more management tasks are undertaken at Kurtonitj, so more cultural sites are rediscovered and recorded. The wetlands have shown to have a significant pollen-based record of human-induced landscape change. Thousands of years of waterway and wetland manipulation and engineering by the Gunditjmara have helped form this landscape - with the pollen-based material also recording periods of climate change.
Plants and animals classified as endangered at a national level find a home at Kurtonitj including the spot-tailed quoll. Other important species here include the growling grass frog, southern toadlet and the brolga. Kurtonitj is an important part of the Budj Bim eco-tourism strategy, with visitors able to see features like stone eel traps and house sites and smoking trees. The impressive chain of wetlands in the central section of Kurtonitj is a haven for bird watching.
Declared as an Indigenous Protected Area on 25 November 2009, Kurtonitj is owned by the Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation and managed by the Winda-Mara Aboriginal Corporation on behalf of the Gunditjmara people. Kurtonitj IPA is managed in line with World Conservation Union Category VI - Managed Resource Protected Area: Protected Area managed mainly for the sustainable use of natural ecosystems.