Melbourne Quarter was once a significant meeting place for the Woiwurrung and Boon Wurrung people of the Kulin nation, who cultivated its surrounding lands and waterways. For the traditional landowners, the area was a source of life, a rich wetland fed by the fertile waters of the Yarra River. 

From rolling terrain and wetlands, to the bustling urban hub we know and love today, Melbourne Quarter is closely connected to the founding of Melbourne and what later became known as ‘Batman’s Hill.’ An important piece of this history is captured in the artwork that graces the lobby of One Melbourne Quarter, created by typographic artist John Warwicker. 

Presenting an interpretation of the letter written by Captain John Lancey to his employer, the co-founder of Melbourne, John Fawkner, the letter serves as proof that the people of the Kulin Nation had successfully built a set of harvests on the hill and sustained them for thousands of years. 

Novelist and scholar of Indigenous agriculture and language, Bruce Pascoe, believes that the letter, drafted in 1835 (the year of Melbourne’s colonial foundation) signifies what we can learn from Aboriginal land management — particularly when it comes to conservative sustainability. Pascoe sees significance in the letter’s ability to describe “how much is to be gained from engaging with this history.” 

Extracts from the letter that appear in the artwork serve as an ongoing reminder that for the traditional custodians of the land, this was once a meeting place, a place to be nurtured, and one that will be invigorated again as an integral part of the city fabric.