The Winda-Mara Aboriginal Corporation (WMAC) now has a permanent base for their Budj Bim Rangers group thanks to a funding injection from the Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation (ILSC).
The Budj Bim Rangers are well-known around Australia and are responsible for protecting the sacred Budj Bim National Heritage Landscape – one of only two World Heritage listed sites in Victoria.
This significant Country is vast, spanning a massive area of 3000 hectares – 4.5 times more than the size of Melbourne’s CBD.
Today marks a major milestone for the Budj Bim Rangers, who now have their own base to protect and manage this remarkable part of Australia, further boosting their profile thanks to the tourism and land management opportunities that come with a permanent residence.
The base is fundamental to increasing connection to Country and empowering self-determination for the Gunditjmara people, now and into the future.
With some improvements planned for the facility, the permanent base allows the WMAC to extend their ranger training, enhance operational efficiencies, and provides a permanent home for their rangers and tour operations.
Michael Bell, Chair of the Winda-Mara Aboriginal Corporation Board, said the new ranger base offers many exciting opportunities for the community.
“The purchase of the property for the use of Budj Bim Rangers as a Depot and the future opportunities offered by this site is an exciting development for our community,” said Uncle Michael Bell.
“The development of Indigenous businesses on the site will form a place where community members can obtain employment and training to improve their career opportunities.”
Joe Morrison, ILSC Group Chief Executive Officer, was equally enthusiastic saying today was a great celebration for the Gunditjmara people and their connection to Country.
“The facility will assist the WMAC secure the future of the ranger group and importantly, secure the Gunditjmara people’s connection to Country for future generations,” said Mr Morrison.
“The ILSC’s fundamental focus is returning Country to First Nations peoples so they can realise the benefits of owning and managing Country.
“As an organisation, we are proud to have contributed almost $1 million to make this project – a project that will enable the WMAC manage their Country – come to life.
“The building is not just somewhere to house equipment. It’s a space for bringing community together, where they can share knowledge and culture and create new enterprises.
“It’s this sharing of knowledge that will lead to greater Gunditjmara self-determination”.
The facility at 598 Henty Highway, Portland Victoria, officially opened today.