Infrastructure - Budj Bim Cultural Landscape

Our Infrastructure

Budj Bim Cultural Landscape

Overall approach to design

The buildings are designed to assist in telling the Budj Bim story.

  • This is done though the use of frames and screens that highlight important elements of the cultural landscape, by directing a personsview or movement along a path and by encouraging a visitor to stop or pause at significant points.
  • The materials are chosen to appear natural or semi-transparent in the landscape, so that the structures are not dominant. The same materials are used at each site, to visually connect them and express the fact that they are part of a continuous cultural landscape.
  • The structures protect the cultural artefacts, by lifting visitors above the ground surface where ancient stone hut circles and fish traps are preserved.
  • The designs reference particular elements of Gunditjmara culture and traditional forms of dwelling, such as the domed huts.
  • The designs also reflect the future aspirations of a strong culture with a rich connection to country, who are continuing to manage their land in a sustainable way while sharing the Budj Bim story.

What kinds of timber is used in the buildings?

All the timbers used in the project are Australian. The two main timbers used throughout the project are Red Gum and Spotted Gum.

  • The charred timber cladding and battens are Spotted Gum.
  • At the Aquaculture Centre, the diagonal external cladding on the building and under the verandah is Red Gum.
  • Inside, the counter is a single slab of solid Red Gum.
  • The carved plywood linings are made from Spotted Gum from NSW.
Tae Rak Acquaculature Centre - © Budj Bim Cultural Landscape Tours

What kind of stone has been used?

  • The stone paving and benchtops are made from local volcanic stone. It is sourced from southwest Victoria, at a local quarry near Port Fairy (Bamstone) and is chosen for its relationship to the Budj Bim volcanic landscape.
  • The stone used on path edges is volcanic stone sourced from within Budj Bim sites. It was moved with the approval of Gunditjmara representatives to ensure that no important remnants were disturbed. In most cases, it was stone that had already been moved for another purpose previously.
  • The gravel on paths is locally sourced bluestone gravel dust.
Ta_Budjbim_ 102 1

Services and Sustainability

  • The facilities at Tae Rak are completely off-grid, as are the Tyrendarra IPA and Kurtonitj IPA.
  • At the Tae Rak Aquaculture Centre, the primary source of power is solar electricity. An array of 306 panels can generate up to 160kW of power, with 123kWh of battery storage.
  • All storm water is collected and stored on site.
  • All waste is contained on site before it is collected and taken away for treatment. It's not possible to dispose of waste on site (even grey water) because the building is on a flood plain.
  • The whole building is designed to be very energy efficient. There are high levels of insulation, double glazing, it is well-sealed and the lighting and appliances have been selected to minimize energy use.
  • Many of the materials used have a low embodied energy and a low carbon footprint, with large amounts of plantation timber used.

Why is the Aquaculture Centre so high off the ground?

  • The water levels in the lake vary greatly from summer to winter and the infrastructure needs to accommodate this variation.
  • The 1 in 100 year flood modelling predicts that the entire site will be under water and the floor level of the building is designed to remain 300mm above this level.
Ta_Budjbim_ 34

Why are there boardwalks and not paths?

  • Raised boardwalks minimize disturbance of the sites, including the soil, plants and the cultural artefacts such as stone hut circles.
  • They also keep visitors from straying off paths so they are less likely to run into snakes and leeches!

Why is the steel flooring rusted?

  • The rusted finish is intentional. It is a layer of oxidization that forms on the outside of untreated steel.
  • It was chosen mostly for its ability to blend in with the surrounding landscape, where bright galvanized or stainless steel would stand out as a very industrial material.
  • The structural steel framing is all protected with a paint coating.
  • Steel is a good material for this setting because it can resist both flooding, cultural burns and allows views through the decking to the ground below.
Budj Bim Tower Hill Gort X Ruck 37Tae Rak Acquaculature Centre Budj Bim Cultural Landscape Tours Brayden

Where do the patterns on the interior of the Tasting Room at the Aquaculture Centre come from?

  • The patterns on the plywood linings are from the Tae Rak Possum Skin Cloak, which has been repatriated from the Melbourne Museum and is now housed at the Keeping Place at the nearby Condah Mission.
  • The patterns were digitized and enlarged by about 10-12 times their actual size then routed into the plywood using a CNC machine.
  • The cloak is a very important link to traditional Gunditjmara culture and it is a privilege for visitors to get close to it through the patterns inside this space.
Tae Rak Aquaculture Centre design ©

Why are there arches in all the buildings?

  • The arch motif is used in many of the structures as a reference to the traditional form of domed huts.
  • The designs are intended to prompt visitors to think about how the Gunditjmara lived traditionally and to imagine the landscape as it was before Colonisation.
  • Many of the structures are also intended to frame culturally significant views of the landscape, such as the view to the Budj Bim summit, Killara (Darlot Creek) or views of fishtraps and hut circles.
  • In some instances, the more solid parts of structures (such as timber batten screens) are designed to maskviews of modern-day infrastructure that detracts from the cultural landscape, to help the visitor to focus on the subtle features that are important to telling the Budj Bim story.
  • In other instances, an important axis is highlighted, such as the alignment of the Tae Rak jetty and Aquaculture Centre with the view to the Budj Bim summit.
Tae Rak Aquaculture Centre Cafe ©

Why is the lookout on the far side of the crater at Budj Bim National Park?

  • The lookout is intended to help tell the cultural story of the creation of the Budj Bim landscape rather than simply provide a picturesque view.
  • It is located on an axis that looks east towards the Budj Bim summit, the birthplace of the Budj Bim Landscape.
  • In the opposite direction, it looks down the lava flow from Budj Bim towards the coast.
  • The angled stone paving on the entrance to the lookout points to Deen Maar, an island off the coast of Port Fairy that is the spiritual resting place of the Gunditjmara ancestors.
Ta_Budjbim_ 141

Project Team

Cooper Scaife Architects were engaged by Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation over several years to develop the tourism infrastructure. The project spans five separate sites: Tyrendarra Recreation Reserve, Tyrendarra IPA, Kurtonitj IPA, Tae Rak (Lake Condah) and Budj Bim National Park. The project team consisted of:

  • Architects: Daniel Cooper, Bianca Scaife, Tijana Dabic & Cait Phillips
  • Structural & Civil Engineer: Tonkin
  • Services Engineers: Integral Group
  • Interpretive Designer / Graphic Designer: Lookear / Mono
  • Landscape Architect: Site Office
  • Quantity Surveyor: WT Partnership
  • Building Surveyor: Beaton Building Consultancy
  • Land Surveyor: Brayley & Hayes
  • Archaeologist: Ecology & Heritage Partners
  • Project Manager: Accuraco
  • Builder: AW Nicholson

Photo credit Tess Kelly - Budj Bim National Park interpretation centre

Budj Bim Np S2_11
Budj Bim National Park ©

Budj Bim National Park

An extinct volcano located within the Western Victorian Volcanic Plains.




Eel canals for kooyang (eel) trapping



Lake Condah

Lava flow tracks