The Aboriginal people who lived in what we now know as the City of Hobson’s Bay are known as the Yalukit-willam, a name meaning ‘river camp’ or ‘river dwellers’. The Yalukit-willam are associated with the coastal land at the head of Port Phillip Bay that extends from the Werribee River, across to Williamstown, Port Melbourne, St. Kilda, and Prahran.
The language of the Melbourne people, includes three dialects, Daung wurrung, Woi wurrung, and Boon wurrung, and is part of a group of related languages collectively known as the Kulin group of languages, or the Kulin Nation. The three Melbourne dialects are referred to as the East Kulin area.
Belonging to this land were clans, comprising one or two extended families, who hunted and gathered together. These families moved through the landscape using their knowledge of the environment and the seasons. The clans were sometimes distinguished by the names of their leading men. Two such leaders of the Yalukit-willam were Benbow and Derrimut.
The Yalukit-willam might spend a few days or a few weeks in the one place, depending on the local supply of fresh water and the available food resources. The people hunted kangaroos, possums, kangaroo rats, bandicoots, wombats and lizards; caught fish and eels, and collected shellfish.
Major camps were usually set up close to permanent streams of fresh water leaving evidence as an indication of the places where they lived. These places are called archaeological sites. The types of sites found in the City of Hobson’s Bay include surface scatters, shell middens, isolated artefacts and burials.