You won’t believe what’s hiding in the quiet corner of Albert Park, right behind the Junction Oval and on the edge of the Queens Way on-ramp from Dandenong Road. It may look like just another patch of untamed parkland, but trust me, it’s so much more than that. Nestled here is one of Melbourne’s oldest living beings: the Bunurong Corroboree Tree, also known as the ‘Ngargee’ Tree.

This towering giant, a magnificent red gum, is estimated to be between 300 and 500 years old. It has withstood the test of time, bearing witness to countless years of history. The Bunurong people, the Traditional Owners of the land where St Kilda stands today, have regarded this tree as sacred for centuries. It served as a gathering place for their meetings and discussions, and it continues to hold deep significance for Aboriginal elders who still convene here to address important matters.

To locate the tree, park your car in the designated parking lot to the left of the Junction Oval (accessed from Lakeside Drive). Follow the gravel path straight ahead at the end of the carpark, and as it curves to the right along the Junction Oval, you’ll see marked paths branching off into the central area adorned with red gum seating. Right in front of you stands the majestic Corroboree Tree. Fun fact: The nearby road was even diverted from its original plans to make way for this grand tree.

Behind you, there’s a beautiful paved seating area with plaques that share the rich history of the Bunurong people, one of the significant language groups within the Kulin Nation. Take a moment to pay your respects and acknowledge the traditional owners of this land, the Bunurong Peoples, and their enduring connection to this place. According to the Historical Society of St Kilda, Victoria was once home to an estimated 50,000 Aboriginal people. However, due to the arrival of European settlers and the devastating impact of introduced diseases and violence, their population dramatically dwindled to a mere 2,000 by 1850. In 1839, only 89 Bunurong people were recorded in the first Aboriginal census, and by 1863, their number had reduced to just eleven. This old tree has witnessed these turbulent times firsthand.

The Corroboree Tree stands as a living testament to Melbourne’s ancient history and the resilience of the Bunurong people. So, next time you visit, take a moment to appreciate this incredible time capsule that links us to the past.