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Cultural Heritage

We're fortunate here in the City of Whittlesea to be home to a number of unique heritage places. Learn about how we celebrate and protect our cultural heritage.

Cultural Heritage Program

Our Cultural Heritage Program celebrates the cultural diversity, history and heritage of the City of Whittlesea through a variety of informative events, cultural festivals and tours, and takes place seasonally between March - December each year.

The program is developed in partnership with community and special interest groups to provide opportunities to collectively celebrate our:

  • Aboriginal heritage
  • Built heritage and early European history
  • Environmental heritage
  • Rich personal and cultural heritage 

Events in the Cultural Heritage Program are listed below.

For more information about our Cultural Heritage Program phone 9217 2174.

Mid-Autumn Festival

Celebrated in China and other east Asian countries, the Mid-Autumn Festival, is the second grandest festival in China after the Chinese New Year. The day is also known as the Moon Festival, the Harvest Moon Festival and the Mooncake Festival. Associated with the harvest and moon worship, it is celebrated at the time of year the moon is believed to be at its fullest and brightest.

Traditionally, the festival falls on the 15th day of the eighth month in the Chinese lunar calendar, which in 2021 falls on September 21. 

The Mid-Autumn festival began over 3000 years ago, whereby Ancient Chinese emperors in the Shang Dynasty worshiped the moon in Autumn to thank it for the harvest. After that, people began to observe the Moon Festival in celebration of their hard work and harvest. Nowadays, people mainly commemorate the Moon Festival as a time for family reunions. People have long believed that worshiping the moon and eating together around a round table will bring them good luck and happiness.

The festival celebrates three closely connected fundamental concepts:

  • Gathering: family and friends coming together, and the gathering and harvesting of crops
  • Thanksgiving: to give thanks for the harvest, and for harmonious unions
  • Praying: asking for babies, a spouse, longevity, beauty or for a good future

Traditionally, people set a table with mooncakes, fruit, candles, incense and other offerings towards the moon, make their wishes and kowtow to the moon. Afterwards, the families will share the offerings.

Cultural Heritage Network

The Whittlesea Cultural Heritage Network meets quarterly to network, brainstorm ideas and participate in some fascinating presentations on topics to do with our culture and our history. If you like the events listed in the Cultural Heritage Program you will love the Cultural Heritage Network. For our Spring meeting we are very privileged to have the Whittlesea Chinese Association present on a key festival in their calendar: the Mid-Autumn Festival.

Event details:

Tuesday 28 September, 7pm

Fountain View Room, Council Offices, 25 Ferres Boulevard, South Morang.

For further information and to book please call: 0419 520 501

Please note: this session may run online due to COVID-19 restrictions. 

The Only Woman at Gallipoli

With military historian John Howell

In November 1915, a woman appeared amid the fighting at Gallipoli. She laid a wreath on a grave and then disappeared. It was the grave of an Anzac killed at the landings and later regarded as a hero and awarded the Victoria Cross.

Was the visitor a dedicated nurse and hospital founder who saved the lives of thousands in a 50-year career - a woman awarded medals by Britain, France and Turkey? Or was it a famous explorer, fluent in Arabic and Persian, a friend of the famous including T E Lawrence and Winston Churchill and the only female delegate among thousands at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919? 

Who was The Only Woman at Gallipoli?

Join military historian John Howell, author of The Only Woman at Gallipoli to learn more about this fascinating story. 

Event details:

Thursday 7 October, 2 -3pm

This is an online event via Zoom. A link to join the event will be emailed to you prior to the session.

Super Kids Sunday

Presented by: The City of Whittlesea

Super Kids Sunday is an event which celebrates kids and how they see their world. This will be a hybrid event with entertainment, activities and music (including an original composition for the play space) happening both online and in person as well, depending on COVID-19 Restrictions. With contributions from school groups, community groups, youth groups, council services and much more. Keep an eye on the Whittlesea Arts website for updates about the live event.

Event details: 

Sunday 24 October, 12pm – 4pm

All Abilities Play Space, Morang Dve, Mill Park.

For further information please contact our Arts, Culture and Events team, or call 9217 2174

Plenty River Weaving Workshop

Presented by: Nikki Brown

Visit the beautiful Plenty River and learn the art of traditional Aboriginal binak (basket) weaving, a technique practiced for thousands of years. Bidjara woman Nikki Brown will share her weaving skills and stories from Bidjara country (Canarvon Gorge QLD). Dress warm and BYO camping chair or picnic rug. Afternoon tea provided.

Event details:

Sunday 24 October, 1 – 3pm

Bookings are essential, to reserve your place simply call 9217 2042 or email our Sustainability team.

Location of event will be advised upon booking.

Out of the Madhouse

With authors Sandy Jeffs and Margaret Leggatt

Larundel Psychiatric Hospital was “the madhouse on the edge of town” at Bundoora until the 1990s.

Join Sandy Jeffs, a former inmate who became an advocate for her ‘mad’ comrades and is now a poet of distinction, along side Margaret Leggatt, sociologist, occupational therapist and activist for the friends and families of those with a mental health condition.

Their book recently won the Victorian Community History Awards 2020, oral history, and will be available for sale on the night. 

Event details:

Tuesday 26 October, 1 - 2pm

Online webinar.

Introduction to Genetic Genealogy: Using DNA for Family History Research

Presented by Yarra Plenty Regional Library

DNA testing has become a more affordable and increasingly popular way for people to explore their family history.

In this session join Craig Smith, an enthusiastic family historian who has successfully used DNA to identify long lost ancestors and new-found cousins, and learn what can be revealed if you choose to take a DNA test and how it can assist you with your genealogy research.

Craig will return for an Advanced session online on November 24.

Event details:

Saturday 27 October, 2 - 3pm

This event will be presented via Microsoft Teams.  A link will be emailed to you prior to the session. Bookings essential, sign up here.

Whittlesea’s Dark Past: Historical Crime and the Paranormal

Presented by Yarra Plenty Regional Library

Come along to the launch of Whittlesea’s Dark Past, a book of historical true crime and paranormal stories from the City of Whittlesea written by Jack Chan and funded by Public Records Office of Victoria. Find out about the true tales from the book, bring along your paranormal stories to share in discussion.

Event details:

Thursday 28 October 7 - 8.30pm   

Mill Park Library, 394 Plenty Rd. Mill Park

Booking is essential. Click here to reserve your place.

For further information, please call 9437 8189.

Open Studios Arts Trail

Presented by artists in the City of Whittlesea

The annual Open Studios Trail showcases the many talented artists that call the City of Whittlesea home.

From Thomastown to South Morang and through to Whittlesea township, artists share their art and their creative practices.

The Arts Trail weekend offers the public a unique opportunity to:

  • see inside artists’ studios
  • explore a range of artforms
  • witness different creative processes and;
  • purchase unique artworks.

Coordinated by a committed crew of local artists, creative practises on show include painting, sculpture, kiln formed glass, mosaic, ceramics, writing and more.

This year, COVID-19 restrictions mean the Studio Art Trail will be offered digitally.

Event details:

Saturday 30 and Sunday 31 October, 10am – 4pm

Join the Facebook event here.

For further information, send the group an email


National History Month

October is National History Month and staying at home is the perfect opportunity to delve into the past. What are you doing to celebrate? There are some fantastic activities to engage with this October. Visit to find out what’s on, the Royal Historical Society of Victoria is home to the most extensive single information resource on the history of Melbourne and Victoria.

Ways to celebrate at home, online or with friends:

  • Host a digital afternoon tea where everyone shares a recipe from their grandparents and tells one story about their grandparents. 
  • Next time you meet your friends online, have some history trivia questions up your sleeve for an impromptu quiz
  • I Was There When ... Present your memories of the local area anchored around the statement ‘I was there when …’.
  • Learn to play an antiquated game such as knucklebones or cat’s cradle
  • ‘I Wish I'd Been There’ Describe the moment in the history of your local area you wish you had not missed, some are funny, some quirky and some are inspiring.
  • Have a show and tell where half a dozen people talk about one object each from their historical collection
  • An online class - the Chinese Museum have some great interactive online sessions for schools where they have a class in making Chinese lanterns or a Kung Fu class. Maybe you can research how to make a rawhide whip, how to skin a rabbit, how to darn socks, make a rag rug etc
  • Discover the Golden Age of Hollywood and screen some vintage pictures

Collectively Caring For Climate Exhibition

Presented by the City of Whittlesea

Thinking globally and acting locally, 300 residents made a climate pledge and an artwork about small things they would change in their daily lives to help the environment. This exhibition is an inspirational journey through their artworks showing that residents care about climate change and are taking positive action in their lives to do something about it.

See Whittlesea Arts for details of associated events and activities.

Event details:

5 August – 22 October, 10am – 4pm weekdays

The Great Hall, Council Offices, 25 Ferres Boulevard, South Morang

For more information please call 9217 2174 or email

Artwork:  I will reduce landfill by feeding my worm farm, Caroline Lewallen 2020

Advanced Genetic Genealogy: Tools for Using DNA for Family History Research

Presented by Yarra Plenty Regional Library

It is Family History Month! 

In this advanced session, join enthusiastic family historian Craig Smith as he gives an overview of some of the tools that are available to assist you with using DNA in your genealogy research.

Event details:

Wednesday 24 November, 2 - 3pm

Book your place here.

Turning Back to Edgars Creek

Presented by Ziebells Farmhouse and Museum

Ziebells Farmhouse and Museum are pleased to announce their new exhibition Turning Back to Edgars Creek which looks at peoples' changing cultural relationship with the creek in what its now called Thomastown and Lalor.

It has been printed in booklet form and is currently being delivered to over 16,000 households in Thomastown and Lalor. In suburbs where access to the internet is below the national average, we believe this direct engagement with our communities is important. 

Keelbundoorah Scarred Tree Heritage Trail

This NAIDOC why not explore a sacred Aboriginal site for a unique cultural experience. Visit the magnificent Scarred Tree, the Canoe Tree, Burls and more on this self-guided tour.

RMIT have a great resource to guide you on your trail here,or you can stop at the library and ask for a brochure and map.  







Culture in the Kitchen

Welcome to Culture in the Kitchen, where we learn to cook dishes of cultural significance and meet some incredible community chefs.

Each episode is filmed in real time so you can cook along, so learn to make the delicious beef and prawn dish of Ndole from Cameroon, the delectable eggplant and lamb Ali Nazik from Turkey and the scrumptious Chaldean Kilecha sweet treats.

Episode one screens February 11. Click the link below to watch the trailers and prepare your ingredients.

Collaborative Cultural Dance

Dance like you’ve never danced before. Be a Bollywood star, shake your booty to Mutuashi the Congolese dance of Freedom and connect with Country in Bik Ngarra.

Join our online classes in Bollywood, Mutuashi and Aboriginal dance, and learn some sensational new moves. Learn the routines and upload a video of yourself and become a star in the collated clip.

Designed for all levels of fitness, these classes give an exciting insight into world dance.

Our Cultural Heritage Strategy 2019-2025

Our Cultural Heritage Strategy features a series of objectives and actions that guide us as we protect, celebrate and preserve the rich history and heritage that exists within our municipality including:

  • Aboriginal scarred trees that date back thousands of years
  • the Wendish German settlement around Ziebell's Farm
  • the Lutheran Church and Cemetery in Thomastown
  • post-World War 2 housing associated with the Peter Lalor Home Co-operative
  • Turner's Bakery in Mernda
  • and plenty more

Past events

Cultural Diversity program

Every year in March, Victorians gather together to celebrate our diversity. This year Harmony Week is 15 – 21 March and Cultural Diversity Week falls on 21-28 March. We have put together an exciting program of workshops and activities that reflect the Cultural Diversity of our unique City. Please join us and celebrate together.

National History Month

October is National History Month and staying at home is the perfect opportunity to delve into the past. Visit our National History Month page for some fantastic activities to engage with this October.