The Bunurong (Boonerwrung) people are the Indigenous people from the Western Port area. They have lived around Western Port for thousands of years, enjoying a range of shellfish, mutton birds and plant life.
There are five clans within the Bunurong territory. Western Port is part of the Mayone Bulluk clan (top of the Mornington Peninsula and head of Western Port) and the Yallock-Bulluk clan (near the Bass River on the eastern catchment of Western Port). The Bunurong people have several creation beings, two of them are Bunjil the Eaglehawk and Waang the Crow.
- The City of Casey lies within the boundary of the Mayone Bulluk Bunurong.
During the summer months the Mayone Bulluk could (and still can) be found at one of their many coastal camps such as Warneet. Here they would access many of their favourite resources such as bird eggs, fish, shellfish and hunt kangaroo and possum. For vegetables they would collect a variety of bulbs, shoots and foliage like the Warrigal Spinach. After eating their meal the Mayone Bulluk would wash it all down with a drink made from the nectar of Coastal Banksia flowers.
History of settlement of the Casey coast
The City of Casey has four coastal villages, each with a unique history. The most westerly town is Cannons Creek, which sits on Rutherford Inlet. On the other side of Rutherford Inlet is Warneet. Further east around Chinaman Island, off Gentle Annie Channel, is Blind Bight. To the far east of the municipality is Tooradin.
Warneet and Cannons Creek began as fishing camps with a few holiday shacks. In the late 1960s and by early 1970s most of the permanent residents moved in.
Blind Bight began as a farm. Two squatting runs, Kilmore and Balla Balla, were broken into smaller farms and one of these farms was established as the township of Blind Bight. The first 80 blocks were sold in 1974.
The Tooradin area was part of the Tooradin Run of 16,000 acres taken up in 1840. The Tooradin Township was developed in 1854 and in the 1870s the township grew as a significant port.
In its early days, Tooradin attracted not only professional fishermen but the sporting fishermen as well. The fishing, quail shooting on Quail Island, deer shooting and cycling club gave Tooradin a reputation as a ‘Sportsman Paradise’. Tooradin is still a haven for recreational fishing. Its natural landscape of tidal flats and mangroves is a haven for bird and marine life.
Fisherman’s Cottage Museum is a historic property managed by the Cranbourne Shire Historical Society and owned by the City of Casey. The cottage is one of few remaining examples of fishermen’s houses that originally dotted both sides of Sawtell’s Inlet in the nineteenth century and early twentieth century. The cottage has a display shed featuring fishing and farming equipment going back as far as the 1870s.
The Casey coast today is home to many residents but also brings in people from outside the area. Visitors are attracted to the beauty of Western Port Bay, the natural environment and the access to the water for recreation.
The Coastal Environment
The Casey coastline is a unique area that has many outstanding natural features. It is an area of international conservation significance recognised under international treaties. Casey’s coast is a rich wonderland of diverse ecosystems and home to species found nowhere else in the world. Because of its outstanding natural values, in 2002 the United Nations proclaimed the Western Port region a UNESCO biosphere reserve.
- Seagrasses are flowering plants that can live completely submerged in salty water. Seagrass meadows act as a nursery and refuge for small marine organisms, seahorses, juvenile whiting and crabs.
- Mangroves are small trees with breathing roots that live between high and low tide. Fish, crabs and insects live in mangroves and are an important part of the marine food chain.
- A saltmarsh relies on temporary saltwater inundation for its unique plant life. Saltmarsh is extremely diverse with grasses, reeds, sedges, rushes and succulent herbs and shrubs.
- Coastal woodlands provide habitat and assist with erosion control and water filtration. Swamp Paperbarks grow on the edge of swamps and provide shelter and food for bees and birds.
- Some migrating shorebirds fly up to 12,000kms from Arctic breeding areas to Western Port.
What you can do
- Join the Cranbourne Shire Historical Society
The Cranbourne Shire Historical Society collects and maintains the history of the former Shire of Cranbourne, with an emphasis on the history of the towns of Cranbourne and Tooradin. The Society meets on the fourth Thursday of the month at the Old Shire Offices in Cranbourne. Phone: (03) 5998 3643
For more information on Friends groups, call the City of Casey Environment Department on 9705 5200.
- Join the Western Port Biosphere Reserve Foundation
For more information about the Western Port Biosphere Reserve Foundation visit www.biosphere.org.au
- Learn about birds of the Casey coast
For more information about shorebirds and a national monitoring program, Shorebirds 2020 visit Bird Life Australia
- Learn about the history of the Casey coast
To learn more about the history of the Casey coasat, visit www.caseycardinialinkstoourpast.blogspot.com.au/
Download the Casey Coast Information fact sheet (2mb) or contact the City of Casey Environment Department on 9705 5200 for more information.
Marine parks in Casey
A number of areas have been declared as marine national parks and marine sanctuaries in order to protect representative areas along our coastline (such as seagrass beds, rocky reefs, saltmarshes, and kelp forests), and known fish nurseries. These parks and sanctuaries are highly protected areas of the sea; safeguarding plants, animals and habitats within those zones.
Many different activities impact and place pressure upon marine environments such as recreation/commercial fishing and boating, mining for minerals, stormwater runoff, and treated effluent outflows. Overfishing for example, unbalances the system and other species (either predators or food-sources) will die out or flourish as a result. The marine environment is a delicate ecosystem that needs to be managed appropriately so future generations can enjoy the same experiences that we do today.
A family outing to the beach for a bit of fishing can be a really enjoyable time however we all want to preserve the fish stocks so that there will be some for the future.
Many fish species breed in certain areas year after year, as the conditions are favourable in that area – the food levels and protection for the young are ideal. It is crucial to preserve these nursery areas so that fish stocks are replenished year after year.
Western Port has three Marine National Parks:
Yaringa Marine National Park
French Island Marine National Park
Churchill Island Marine National Park
See the map for locations. Churchill Island Marine National Park is near Phillip Island and is not included on the map below.
For more information on Marine Parks in Victoria, visit the Parks Victoria website.