A century and a half after they were taken across the state to Beechworth’s Burke Museum, 16 significant objects will be returned to their rightful owners.
In what is believed to be a Victorian first, the museum have spent a decade seeking the correct ancestral descendants to return the items, which were originally taken by collector RE Johns and sold to the Burke Museum.
Collections manager Linda Peacock said she was proud the spears, boomerangs, shields, baskets and an axe, some of which pre-date European contact, would be going back to Bendigo into the custody of the Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation.
“It’s been an amazing learning curve for me, there’s been a bit of a shift of thinking within museums,” she said.
“Personally it’s been a really emotional experience, it’s been humbling to be a part of it.
“The idea is to highlight the cultural value of these types of objects to the aboriginal community and how it is much more significant for them have them than for us to hold them.”
The objects will be repatriated to the corporation in November, which marks the 150th anniversary of them being sold to the Burke Museum.
The date also marks the fifth anniversary of the Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation signing an agreement with the state government declaring them the traditional land holders.
The objects will be exhibited at Burke Museum alongside images of their country taken by Dja Dja Wurrung elder Linda Ford from May 15 to June 8 before the items are displayed at the Bendigo Art Gallery.