The donation in the early 1980s of a grinding stone to the Koorie Heritage Trust prompted the idea of creating a Keeping Place to preserve, protect and promote the Koorie cultural heritage of Victoria.
At the heart of the Trust is our collection of artworks and objects, photography, oral history recordings and reference library. Our collection is unique because we focus solely on representing the Koorie Aboriginal culture of South-Eastern Australia.
We protect and preserve our collection for future generations through museum-standard storage, documentation and conservation practices. We also use the collection to promote Koorie Aboriginal culture through an active exhibition program.
For further information on our collections and collections program, please contact our Collections and Exhibitions Manager, Charlotte Christie on 03 8662 6316 or email.
Please see image gallery for full images and attributions.
Artworks and Objects
Our artworks and objects collection contains over 3,900 items including historic artefacts and contemporary artworks ranging from boomerangs, shields, spear throwers, clubs, canoes, baskets, eel traps and possum-skin cloaks to carved emu eggs, ceramics, t-shirts, jewellery and sculpture. The oldest items are in our stone tools collection, which includes flints, grinding stones and axes.
Included in our artworks and objects collection is our Picture Collection, which contain more than 900 items including 19th century paintings by William Barak and Tommy McRae, contemporary paintings, drawings, collages and digitised images. We also hold a number of historical engravings from 19th century newspapers depicting Koorie life and cultural practices from a European point of view.
An important role of our Artworks and Objects Collection is to show how Koorie culture continues to evolve. Traditional crafts, designs and stories are still being used across a wide range of contemporary media demonstrating how materials and crafts have adapted and changed over time. Our collection also reflects the diversity of objects and designs from South-Eastern Australia and how they are unique and distinct from other areas of Australia.
Hear Nerissa Broben, our Senior Collections Curator, talk about how the artist Tommy McRae provides a valuable Koorie perspective from the late 1800s through his drawings in our collection. See more of the Koorie Heritage Trust’s Artworks and Objects Collection.
Our Photography Collection contains 48,000+ images including original and duplicate copies of historic and contemporary photographs, transparencies, negatives, born digital images and reference copies of images held by other organisations. Included in this collection are images of Koorie people, cultural heritage sites and significant cultural events. The majority of the Photographic Collection has been donated to us.
Our Photography Collection includes the Lisa Bellear Photographic Archive. Minjungbul woman Lisa Bellear (2/05/1961 – 6/07/2006) from Goernpil, Stradbroke Island in Queensland was a photographer, poet, academic, radio presenter and Indigenous rights activist, who was widely respected within the Indigenous community. Primarily based in Melbourne, Lisa documented over a quarter of a century of Indigenous community life, creating a collection of thousands of photographs. Lisa sadly passed away in 2006. One of Lisa’s key wishes was for copies of photographs in her collection be returned to the Indigenous community. For this purpose, Lisa specifically named the Koorie Heritage Trust as recipient of her collection.
Oral History Recordings
Oral History is the oldest form of sharing knowledge and culture. Aboriginal people of Australia have been sharing their stories orally for 60,000 years or more. Sadly, if these stories are not shared they will be lost, as the prehistory to this country is not written. Our Oral History Program and Collection helps us to keep the oral histories of South-Eastern Australia alive and ensures that cultural knowledge is preserved for future generations. The program began in 1987 with the intention of preserving culture and knowledge for the Koorie community. Many of these audio and visual recordings share significant stories and links to family members. Our Oral History Collection encompasses an audio and visual collection of over 2000 recordings, predominantly interviews with Koorie people from all over Victoria. Special to our collection are recordings of:
- cultural activities such as basket weaving and canoe making
- historical events
- personal testimonies from community members and Elders
- members of the Stolen Generation
- Victorian mission stories
Some of the recordings in our collection includes:
- Uncle Sandy Atkinson telling a story of the old Murray Cod and other memories of family and his years living on Cummerangunja station.
- Mission Voices, a collaborative online project in partnership with the State Library of Victoria and the ABC.
We are thankful and acknowledge the generous funding support for this program from the Pratt Family Foundation. Our Oral History Program is also made possible through the generous support of the State Government Victoria.
We have approximately 4,000 items in our Reference Library Collection. The Collection includes our own publications, historic books, contemporary published works, unpublished documents, theses, serials, posters, maps and some published audiovisual items. Our Collection is unique in that we specialise in resources from south-eastern Australia.