The Boonwurrung people are the traditional custodians of the Mornington Peninsula, and they have been living in the region for at least 40,000 years. For the Boonwurrung, the beaches and the ocean were not just places to swim and fish, but also spiritual sites that were central to their culture and way of life. The Boonwurrung had a deep respect for the natural world and believed that everything was connected. They had a complex system of land and sea management, which allowed them to live sustainably for thousands of years.
When European settlers arrived on the Mornington Peninsula in the early 1800s, they brought with them a different attitude towards the natural world. The settlers saw the land and sea as resources to be exploited, and they began to clear the forests, farm the land, and fish in the waters. This had a devastating impact on the Boonwurrung people, who were displaced from their traditional lands and forced to live in missions and reserves.
Despite the impact of colonization, the Boonwurrung people have continued to maintain their connection to the land and sea. Today, they are actively involved in land management and conservation projects on the Mornington Peninsula, and they are working to ensure that their culture and traditions are passed down to future generations.
One of the most significant sites for the Boonwurrung people is Point Nepean, which is located at the tip of the Mornington Peninsula. Point Nepean has a long and fascinating history, dating back to the early 1800s when it was used as a quarantine station for ships arriving in Australia. During World War II, Point Nepean was used as a military base, and it played a crucial role in the defense of Australia.
Today, Point Nepean is a popular spot for tourists, with its stunning views, walking trails, and historic buildings. But it is also a site of great cultural significance for the Boonwurrung people. The Point Nepean National Park is now jointly managed by the Boonwurrung Land and Sea Council and Parks Victoria, with a focus on preserving the natural environment and promoting cultural awareness and understanding.
The Mornington Peninsula’s beaches may be beautiful, but they also have a complex and fascinating history. From the Boonwurrung people’s deep spiritual connection to the land and sea to the impact of colonization and the ongoing efforts to preserve and protect the natural environment, the story of the Mornington Peninsula’s beaches is one that deserves to be told and celebrated. By learning about and respecting the history of the land, we can better appreciate and enjoy the beauty of the present.