Friday, 3 January 2014

Sacred Prehistoric Bora Rings in Sunbury

What are Bora Rings?

Five bora rings, ceremonial meeting grounds, are located near the heart of Sunbury.

Bora rings, are mandala-like formations found in south-east Australia. They comprise circles of foot-hardened earth surrounded by raised embankments. They were generally constructed in pairs (although some sites have three), with a bigger circle about 22 metres in diameter and a smaller one of about 14 metres. The rings are joined by a sacred walkway and all are on gently sloping sites. While most are confined to south-east Queensland and eastern New South Wales, five earth rings are the only ones of their kind in Victoria.

The age of the Bora Rings is unknown. According to a university archeologist, Dr David Frankel, the rings could be 1,000 years old. However Bora rings have been dated as 5,300 years old that make them the most ancient human meeting places in the world.
A  diorama at the Samford Historical Museum
depicting how the Bora Ring would have been used by the local Aboriginal people

Aboriginal Heritage

Wurundjeri elder Aunty Annette Xiberras said the sites were integral to her people’s cultural rediscovery.  Many aboriginal people believe that the earthen structures are not the only location of significance:  the site itself is the location of spiritual energy, and they are parts of significant landscapes.

An important aspect of the project is to ascertain Aboriginal views.  I need to summarise some of these at this point, as they have impressed themselves upon me.

Aboriginal people do not believe that Bora rings can be destroyed, but they can be vandalised (subjected to physical damage) and also desecrated (treated without respect).  All Aboriginal people believe that bora rings are important, wherever they occur, and whether they are in their own country or not.  It cannot be over-emphasise the continued significance, sacredness and relevance of these sites to Aboriginal people in the area in which they occur. 


The rate of obliteration has been enormous.  It is not possible to give an accurate figure of attrition at the present time, and may not ever be, but here is a rough attempt.  A academic John Watson estimates that  some 426 bora rings were to be found in NSW and Qld.  Of these, maybe 94 are still perceptible to some extent, that is, less than a quarter, and that is a generous estimate. 

Obliteration and desecration continue.  For instance, a well known site in Queensland had been obliterated in the 1950s.  The area of this site was proposed for a housing development in the 1990s, and considerable disturbance was inflicted on it.  Development was only halted in 1997, due to an anthropological report which described the continuing significance of the site to the Aboriginal community.  The main reason why the development was halted seems to have been due to the production of aerial photographs from the 1940s, clearly depicting the ring.

Sunbury Bora Ring Locations

Riddells Road Ring 37.553419°S 144.703165°E

Hopbush Ave 37.56225°S 144.74129°E
Correa Way Earth Ring 37.562801°S 144.739434°E
Wirilda Court 37.564323°S 144.735566°E

Reservoir Road Ring 37.569519°S 144.697926°E

More information:

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