Culture and heritage
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Before European settlement the whole Yarra Valley area was part of the Wurundjeri tribe territory. In 1847 the area which is now Westerfolds Park was purchased from the Crown.
In the early 1930s the Turner Family bought the land and built the ‘Manor’ in 1936. By the 1950s the growing population had pushed most of the large-scale farmers and orchardists out of the surrounding area, but residential and industrial development did not occur mainly because of the threat of flooding. In the 1970s plans to create a residential estate were strongly opposed by the community and the state government purchased the land in 1973; to meet the growing need for public open space.
The park was officially opened in November 1984.
In 1841 a punt service was established across the river at Banksia Park forming a key crossing point for the area that encouraged the clearing and development of the surrounding land. The first bridge was built in 1960.
The name ‘Birrarrung’ is derived from an Aboriginal name for the Yarra River; ‘Bay-rayrung’ meaning ‘river of mists’. Stone chips, flakes and an axe head found in the park are remnants of large gatherings of the local Aboriginal people, the Wurundjeri. Because of the constant threat of flooding, residential and industrial development did not occur at this location.
The Yarra Flats areas was a popular site for Aboriginal gatherings of the Wurundjeri people up until the 1950’s. From the 1830s the land was claimed by the state and sold as prime agricultural land. The fertile soils provided excellent conditions for growing wheat and barley.
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