Victorian First Peoples women and men created net bags from string made from animal fur and plant fibre. The bags varied in size and were used by women and men to carry and hold their personal belongings, smaller tools and food.
Before the invasion and arrival of European people in 1835, the Woi Wurrung and Boon Wurrung peoples occupied the Port Phillip and Melbourne area. Both Boon Wurrung and Woi Wurrung peoples continue to live, practice their culture and work on their traditional lands in the Port Phillip and Melbourne area. First Peoples culture, music and arts is celebrated with the wider Melbourne community on the traditional lands of the Boon Wurrung peoples annually at the Yalukit Wilum Ngargee Festival held in St Kilda and with the Tanderrum Ceremony in Melbourne CBD, held for the opening of Melbourne Festival. Tanderrum brings together the Traditional Owners of Melbourne the Boon Wurrung and Woi Wurrung and three other Kulin clans of surrounding areas the Taungurung, Wathaurong and Dja Dja Wurrung peoples

Physical Description

Knotted string bag with handle as an extension of body of bag.

Local Name



Justice Nelson, a Jarra woman from central Victoria, explains how she continues the cultural practice of making string from bark fibre, 150 years after this bilang (string bag) was made;
'You have to strip the bark from the tree, during winter when there is more water in the trunk, which makes the bark flexible. Then you have to twist the fibre. You do that for two pieces, and then twine them together. You need to do it all before it dries because when the fibre dries it doesn't come undone and you can't rework it. The body of this bag is alternating single and double loops, with the handle made from a knotted stitch, to increase the strength of the handle. This knotted stitch is the same that is used to make fishing nets; it is very strong and stretches out. The bottom needs to be stronger because that's where all the weight goes. This knotting pattern is very difficult; I am still trying to work out how to do it.' Justice Nelson 2013.

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