Native Tribes of South-East Australia/Chapter 2
THE TRIBAL ORGANISATION
Physical features of the country—Climatic conditions—Definition of word "tribe"—Divisions of the tribe—The local and social organisations—Lake Eyre tribes—Darling River tribes—Murray River tribes—Tribes of North-Western Victoria—Wiradjuri and Kamilaroi—Queensland tribes—Coast tribes of South Australia and Victoria—The Kurnai of Gippsland—Tableland tribes—The Biduelli tribe—The coast tribes of New South Wales—Queensland coast tribes.
As the title of this work implies, the area included within its scope is about one-quarter of the Australian continent. It extends on the north to near the tropic of Capricorn, and on the south is bordered by the Southern and Pacific Oceans connected by Bass Strait. This tract has a great range both of climate and temperature, from the dry continuous heat of Central Australia, to the severe winter climate of the Australian Alps, and the warm moisture of the coast lands. The most striking features of this part of Australia are the Dividing Range and the vast plains of the interior, through which the rivers, which rise on the inland fall of the Dividing Range, wind their tortuous course, in two great river systems, the one to the Southern Ocean, and the other to Lake Eyre, in Central Australia, where such water as can find its way there evaporates.
The sources of the Murray, which with its great tributary the Darling flows to the Southern Ocean, rise along the Dividing Range for a distance of over a thousand miles. Those of the Thomson and Barcoo, which lower down form Cooper's Creek, extend along the Dividing Range for a further distance of three hundred miles. The rivers which rise on the other side of the Divide have short but vigorous courses to the sea.
The Coastal Districts
Character of South Australia
There is no Dividing Range in South Australia, and hence its climate has not the marked distinctions which arise in Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland from the existence of a high mountainous tract near the sea and a depressed low-lying interior. Two ranges of hills are met with running in a northerly direction: the first, the Mount Lofty Range, runs from the coast west of the Murray mouth, while the second commences at the head of Spencer Gulf, and as the Hinders Range continues in a picturesque chain to near Lake Blanch, south-east of Lake Eyre. But these ranges have no resemblance to the great forest-covered mountain ranges of the eastern coast of the continent.
Throughout its whole length in Queensland and New South Wales the Dividing Range closely agrees, in direction, with that of a series of tablelands, which in the former State rise to a height of 1500 feet above the sea-level at the sources of the Belyando River, with a width of about one hundred miles, while further south on the Darling Downs the width of the plateau is two hundred. In New South Wales there are three such plateaux, called the Northern Tableland, rising to a height of 5000 feet at Ben Lomond, the Central Tableland, including the Blue Mountains (Mount Beemering, 4100 feet), and the Southern Tableland, which ends at the Victorian border, rising in Mount Kosciusko to the altitude of 8308 feet. In Victoria the tablelands are much broken up by the cutting back of the rivers on either side of the Divide, so that in some places there is merely a single narrow steep ridge separating the waters that flow on one side direct to Bass Strait, and on the other into the Murray; while the isolated plateaux are situated on one or the other side of the Divide.
It must be remarked that there were tribes of natives who regularly inhabited these mountain tablelands, with the exception of the highest parts of the south of New South Wales and Victoria, which tracts, however, they visited yearly as soon as the inhospitable snows of winter had melted.
The Western Fall
The fall inland from the tablelands is much more gradual than that towards the sea, the hilly country becomes lower, the plain country wider, and at last the great levels of the interior are reached. The tribes who occupied the intermediate position between those living in the hot dry districts of Central Australia, and those who inhabited the tablelands and coast regions, lived under much more favourable conditions than the former. They had a better rainfall, and from the waters of the Thomson, Barcoo, Darling, Murray, and numerous other more or less permanent streams and surrounding country obtained supplies of fish and game. The tribes in Northern Victoria were in the same position. The south-western country in Queensland consists chiefly of plains crossed occasionally by low sandstone ridges and merging into vast tracts subject to inundation, as well as sandhill country which in normal seasons is arid, and in times of drought little better than a desert.
Central Australia may be described as the lower part of a shallow basin into which the drainage, when there is any, flows to Lake Eyre. Here and there out of the vast stretches of open country there arise at distant intervals isolated masses of rock, such as Mount Olga, or the remains of the desert sandstone show as lines of flat-topped hills. The lower country is either successive sand ridges, extending for long distances, sometimes as at Lake Hope, a hundred changeless miles, or there are what are called Gibber plains, which are well described by Spencer and Gillen as follows:—"On these Gibber plains the ground is covered with brown and purple stones, often set close together as if they formed a tesselated pavement stretching to the horizon."
The climatic conditions in Central Australia may be described as having a minimum of rainfall with a continuation of high temperature for many months, though in the winter nights the thermometer may fall below freezing-point. But the most important climatic features are long-continued times of drought, when nature is locked up and the native tribes are using all their magical powers to produce the rain which will turn the desert into a veritable garden. Whenever, at long intervals, great inundations are poured down by the rivers, wide plains of dried mud, usually cracked and fissured in all directions, become saturated with water. Then nature, which has been imprisoned by the drought, bursts forth in luxuriant vegetation such as no one can picture who has not seen it.
|Port Augusta||9.08||43||Ballarat||26.86||30||Bombala||24.23||15||Blue M'nt'ns||38.28||27||Glen Innes||33.68||18|
It is worth notice that at Birdsville, on the lower Diamantina, not far distant from the Lake Eyre district, the mean rainfall recorded for five years was only 3.16 inches. Captain Sturt described that place as an absolute desert. When I saw it in the year 1862, after a great flood, it was a pastoral paradise. I am indebted to the Government Astronomers of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, and Queensland for the above particulars.
This increase in rainfall means that the tribes enjoying it lead an easier life, which condition has probably assisted them in making the social advance which I shall show later
FIG 1.-KURNAI MAN WEARING OPOSSUM RUG. on has taken place, especially in those tribes living on the coast. As an indication of relative climates, I may point out that the tribes of Central Australia had no kind of clothing; I only saw one instance of a covering being worn in the tribes of the Delta of the Cooper, that of a woman suffering from disease who sheltered herself under a single pelican skin. The tribes who lived in the intermediate parts, and particularly those of the tablelands and coastal regions, made good rugs of opossum and other skins, which they used for both warmth and covering when necessary—at other times going naked.
Definition of Tribe
I use the word "tribe" as meaning a number of people who occupy a definite tract of country, who recognise a common relationship and have a common speech, or dialects of the same. The tribes-people recognise some common bond which distinguishes them from other tribes, usually a tribal name, which may be their word for "man," that is, an aboriginal of Australia.
In such cases there is a prefix or postfix meaning "people" or "tribe"; thus the Wotjo are collectively called Wotjo-baluk, that is to say, "tribe of men." Or the name may be derived from the word in their language for "no" or "yes," more frequently the former, as with the Woëworung of the Yarra River in Victoria, Woë meaning "no," and the postfix Worung "lip," hence "speech."
But while individual tribes are thus distinguished from others, there are numerous cases in which the word for "man" is common to the languages of a considerable number of more or less nearly related tribes, indicating a larger aggregate, for which, in default of a better term, I use the word "nation." For instance, the word "Kulin" (man) was used by tribes over most of the eastern half of Victoria, with the exception of Gippsland.
A distinction is drawn by tribes between themselves and aliens by some term applied to the latter, either of contempt or fear. Thus while the Kurnai speak of themselves as "men," they give the name of Brajerak, from bra, "man," and jerak, "rage" or "anger," to their neighbours, the Theddora of the Omeo tableland, the Ngarigo of the Manero tableland, and Murring of the south coast of New South Wales.
Those living in the Western Port district of Victoria they called Thurung or tiger -snakes, because, as I have heard them say, "they came sneaking about to kill us."
Divisions of the Community
In all the native tribes of Australia there are geographical divisions of the community determined by locality, and also divisions of the tribe on which the marriage regulations are based. The former are distinguished by certain local names, while the latter are denoted by class names, or totems, and more frequently by both class names and totems.
In the aggregate of the whole community these two sets of divisions are conterminous, but under female descent no division of the one set is conterminous with any division of the other. That is to say, the people of any given locality are not all of the same class or totem, nor are the people of any one class or totem collected in the same locality. This is the rule where descent is in the female line, but when the line of descent has changed to that through males, we find cases in which all the people in a certain locality have come to bear the same class name and totem.
The Local and Social Organisations
Hence it is evident that the Australian aborigines are divided into tribes which are organised on certain lines in two independent directions. One I have termed the "local" and the other the "social" organisation, and since this is a matter of great importance, I deem it worthy of special consideration.
An entire community, tribe, nation, or whatever it may be termed, is divided socially into two exogamous intermarrying moieties, which for shortness may be designated A and B. In some parts of Australia these two principal moieties or classes have become divided, each into two sub-classes. In Central and Northern Australia there has been a further division of the sub-classes, resulting in eight sub-classes, and the same process has taken place in Northern Queensland."
To the classes and sub-classes together, or to the latter only without the former, a number of lesser groups are attached, having the names of material objects, even of natural phenomena, for which the term "totem" is appropriate. But as their sum only equals A and B, I need not take them into account at the present time. They will be dealt with in the next chapter.
It is this systematic division of the tribe which was called by Dr. Lorimer Fison and myself "the social organisation."
As I have said, the tribe is also divided into a number of lesser groups, say X, Y, Z, etc. (I take these for the sake of convenience, but there may be many more); these divisions of the tribe are local, and therefore differ essentially from the classes or totems, which are groups of the social organisation. In order to prevent confusion between the lesser division of each of these different organisations of the tribe, the term "clan" is used for the subdivision of a tribe which has descent in the male line, and "horde" for that in which there is female descent. The clan and the horde are each therefore a geographical division of a tribe.
Thus the local organisations, X, Y, Z, etc., are made up of individuals belonging to both A and B. The children of the horde belong to the horde, e.g. the children of X males are of X horde and so forth, but since A (male) must marry B (female) with descent in the female line, the son of X is XB. In other words, the son is of the father's horde and tribe, but of the mother's totem and class; of the local division to which the father belongs, but of the mother's social division. In extreme cases, where descent has come to be in the male line, the hordes or clans as well as the social divisions are found to be exogamous; the exogamic law has, seemingly, passed over from the social to the local division, which therefore in such cases regulates marriage. It is as if an English village had determined that its children should marry beyond its bounds, the sons bringing their wives to the village, while the daughters went to the villages whence their brothers took their wives. In illustration of these statements I shall give instances, commencing with the Dieri, which is one of the socially backward standing tribes; going through the tribes in a socially progressive series, until the end is reached, with tribes of which the Kurnai are an example. In this way I hope to be able not only to show the actual advances made in the local and social organisations, but also the character of those important changes.
In order to make clear the definition of the terms I use, the following is given:—
(1) Nation is used to signify a group of tribes.
(2) Tribe is used in the sense given at p. 41.
(3) Horde, the primary geographical division of a tribe having female descent, for instance, the Ngadi-ngani below.
(4) Clan, the primary geographical division of a tribe with descent in the male line, for instance, the Krauatun-galung.
The alliance of the tribes forming the nation comes into view on the occasion of one of the great ceremonies being held; all the tribes which form the nation may attend the ceremonies and take part in them, a bond which holds the hordes or clans of a tribe together.
Lake Eyre Tribes
The Dieri tribe inhabits part of the Barcoo delta on the east and south-east of Lake Eyre, in Central Australia. It is one of a number of tribes which have the same organisation, with allied languages and ceremonies, customs and beliefs. These tribes, though submitting to the white man's supremacy, live their own lives in a great measure, and follow the ancestral customs as far as possible under changed conditions. What I have to say of them will describe what they were forty years ago, when I knew them in their savage state, and before their country was occupied by the white man for pastoral purposes.
The local division of the Dieri tribe into hordes is the following, and will serve as an example of that and other tribes surrounding Lake Eyre.
(1) The Ngadi-ngani or Bukatyiri inhabited the country around Lake Perigundi. The Ngadi-ngani connect the Dieri with the Yaurorka tribe, and the name Ngadi-ngani is derived from Ngadi, which affirms the statement of another person without using the word meaning "yes."
(2) The Pando-etya or Pandola were the inhabitants of the country around Lake Hope (Bando pirna or Great Lake).
(3) The Kunari-kana, that is the Kunari "men," occupied the country around Kopperamana and Killalpanina. Kunara is the name of Cooper's Creek where it flows through the Kopperamana and Killalpanina districts, and during floods spreads over a width of 12 miles. Pando is "lake," and la "of" or "from" a place, and the termination etya implies a constant inhabiting, and is equivalent to our terminal "er" (Londoner).
(4) The Paritiltya-kana, that is the Paritiltya "men," were the people in the country from Kopperamana northwards to the Salt Creek. Paritiltya is derived from pari, "a valley," and tiltya, "a lowest place or part," hence meaning the bottom of the valley. It refers to the habit of these people of fixing their camps in a valley close to the creek so as to be near the water, while the other Dieri camp on the higher ground.
In former times, according to Dieri traditions, their forefathers held the country now occupied by the Wonkanguru, by whom they were thrust out—the Wonkanguru having been themselves expelled from their country by the Wonkatyeri, who had been driven out by the Wonkamala. Such tribal changes no doubt frequently occurred in past ages.
(5) The Tirari, who lived on the south-east shores of Lake Eyre, between the embouchures of Cooper's Creek and the Clayton River.These five hordes of the Dieri tribe are again subdivided
In this manner a tribe is organised geographically in local groups, each having a definite tract of hunting and food ground, and the aggregate of these groups forms the tribe. The sons inherit, or perhaps to speak more correctly occupy, as a matter of birthright, the country which their fathers hunted over. Such is the local organisation of a typical two-class tribe with descent in the female line.
To the south of the Dieri were the Mardala, a hill tribe inhabiting the terminations of the Flinders Range. At the time when I became acquainted with the Dieri, the Mardala were a source of great trouble to the settlers in that district, which was the frontier of the settlements. The leader in the attacks on the settlers was a Mardala black named Inabuthina, but better known to the whites as Pompey. He was a leading man in his tribe, but had to escape and take refuge with the Dieri for burning huts and killing white men—in other words, defending his country. His inveterate enmity to the white men extended to those blacks who assisted them in opening up the country. A black boy of that division of the Dieri tribe which lived about Blanchwater, and therefore immediately adjoined the Mardala, whom I had with me on an expedition, was killed after my return by Inabuthina for having acted as my guide and been too friendly with the white men.
Beyond the Mardala there was a tribe of the same organisation extending to the coast at Port Lincoln called Parnkalla.
Extending west from Port Lincoln, as far as Point Brown, and inland to the Gawler Ranges, is the Nauo or Willuro tribe. The Tidni tribe, also called Hilleri, extends from Point Brown to the head of the Great Australian Bight, and about 50 miles inland.
These tribes are all organised in the same manner as the Parnkalla, and therefore belong to the great group of tribes about Lake Eyre.Extending from the Tidni tribe up to the boundaries of the southern Urabunna, the Kuyani and the Wiranguru, is a large tribe known as the Kukata, and spoken of by the Dieri as a fierce tribe, but having the same organisation as themselves. Tribes of which the Dieri is an example surround Lake Eyre, and extend up the rivers which debouch into it from the north-west, the north, and the north-east. Spencer and Gillen have given particulars of the organisation of the
Urabunna, whose northern boundary defines the extent in that direction of the two-class tribal system. To the north-east are many tribes which differ but little from the Dieri, such as the Yantruwunta, who occupied Cooper's Creek west of the Queensland boundary. It was these blacks who hospitably received John King, the only survivor of the companions of Burke in his march across the continent to the Gulf of Carpentaria and back to Cooper's Creek. Tribes of similar organisation occur up the course of the Barcoo at least as far as Mount Howitt, where the now extinct Kurnandaburi lived, about 120 miles from the Yantruwunta country, but I do not know how far such tribes extend into the western deserts beyond the Tangara, of whom I know little more than the name.
The Darling River Tribes
To the east and south-east of the Dieri country are the Grey and Barrier Ranges, which separate the tribes I have been speaking of from others, whom the Yantruwunta described to me as being so stupid that they "called a snake fire," the word for fire in the Yantruwunta language being Turo, which in the other tongue means carpet snake.
The tribes to the east of the Grey and Barrier Ranges form two nations, which with another, the Barkinji, on the opposite side of the Darling, occupy practically the whole of its course from the Barwon River to its junction with the Murray.
The two former nations are the Itchumundi and Karamundi, the first of which comprises the following tribes:—
(1) Wilya, occupying the country about the Grey Ranges, and having its headquarters about Endeavour Lake.
(2) Kongait, north and south of Cadell's Range, and having its headquarters at Cobham Lake.
(3) Tongaranka, the country including Momba, Tarella, Wonominta, Yandarle, and the Daubeny Range, and having its headquarters at Momba and Tarella. The name means a hillside.
(4) Bulalli, the Barrier Range country, having its headquarters at Polamacca and Sturt's Meadow. Bulalli is from bola, "a hill."Some of the tribes forming the Karamundi nation are:—
(1) Milpulko, on the Darling frontage from Wilcannia downwards.
(2) Naualko, the Darling frontage from Wilcannia upwards to about 70 miles below Bourke and extending back towards the Paroo River.
(3) Guerno. Thence up the river to Bourke, and extending up the Warrego to about Ford's Bridge.
(4) Barrumbinya, from Bourke up to the Barwon River.
There are three other tribes which I have not been able to assign to either of these nations. The Badjeri, who extend up the Paroo River from Currawinya, near Hungerford, to Eulo. The Barunga, who occupy the Wanaaring district on the Paroo River. Finally the Paruinji, from Hungerford down the Paroo to Bootha-bootha, a shallow waterhole in Gorimpa, and who claim also the country of the Barunga. There appears to be an overlapping of tribal boundaries in this case, and possibly an indication of a larger nation.
Most of these tribes speak the same language, but the speech of others differs so much that a native of one division may not understand one word of the language of another.
The third nation is the Barkinji, whose country, according to Mr. A. L. P. Cameron, is on the Darling River, between the junction of the Bogan with it and a point about half-way between Menindie and Pooncarrie, although other information given me extends their range still further. It seems uncertain whether tribes belonging to the Barkinji nation are to be found on both sides of the Darling River. My information places them on the south-eastern side, occupying about 50 miles back from the river. This agrees with a sketch map of Mr. Cameron's, who says that the tribes adjoining it are the Wonghibon, a tribe with four sub-classes, to the south-east, and the Ta-tathi, Muthi-muthi, Wathi-wathi, and Ithi-ithi to the south.
These three nations are a good illustration of the terms used by me. The unit of local organisation is a small group or family which hunts over a restricted area of country. A number of these form a horde, such as that at Momba, which with Tarella, Wonominta, Yandarle, and the locality called the Daubeny Range, form the Tongaranka tribe. The aggregation of tribes forms the Itchumundi nation, a Momba man being at the same time Tongaranka and Itchumundi.
There is a large extent of country, without any permanent surface water, between the Darling, Murray, and Murrumbidgee Rivers. This was occupied by the Berriait tribe, who, when the surface water failed them, obtained a supply from the Mallee, a species of Eucalypt, and from one of the Hakeas. At times of drought they were forced to go to the rivers for water, and as these were occupied by other tribes such as the Barkinji and the Wonghibon, they had to fight their way in strong parties.
Mr. A. L. P. Cameron has, in addition to the above, described to me the method used for obtaining water from the Mallee roots. Those selected are generally from 1 to 3 inches in diameter, and are easily dug up, as in many localities they extend laterally as far as 10 feet without varying much in thickness, and are not more than 9 or 10 inches below the surface. A good root, say 10 feet long and 2½ inches in diameter, would yield a quart of water, which, though not very palatable to those unaccustomed to it, is liked by those who have used it for a time.
All the tribes forming the above-mentioned nations are bound together over an enormous district by the same two-class system, having the same names for the classes, and being not only distinguished thereby from the analogous great organisation of which the Dieri is a representative, but also from other tribal groups to the south, now to be described.
Murray River Tribes
The Wiimbaio tribe before mentioned occupies the country at the junction of the Darling and the Murray Rivers, and they were the people who attempted to prevent the descent of the Murray by Captain Sturt in the year 1829.
They were located on the Murray for about 30 miles up and down from the junction. The tribe on the Murray above the Wiimbaio was the Kerinma, speaking a different language. The Wiimbaio were essentially a river tribe, and their country did not go back southwards from the river more than about a day's journey, say 20 miles, at which distance the country of a branch of the Wotjobaluk commenced.
According to my native informant, the river tribes which occupied the course of the Murray River upwards from Wentworth were as follows:—
The Wiimbaio already mentioned extended for some 30 miles on the south bank where the country of the Kerinma or, as others said, the Grangema, commenced. This is an instance of the difficulties which beset these inquiries, since a group of blacks at a certain place may be called by their local name, or by the name of the dialect which they speak, or by the name of the tribe to which they belong.
Further on about Kulkyne were the Leitchi-leitchi, also on the southern bank. The Weki-weki lived about Pyangil, and between that place and Swan Hill were the Wathi-wathi, and thence to the junction of the Loddon with the Murray, the Bura-bura.
On the northern side of the Murray, between Wentworth and Euston, was a strong tribe, the Ta-tathi. West of the junction of the Murrumbidgee with the Murray were the Muthi-muthi, and in the junction of these rivers the Wi-thai-ja.
Proceeding further up-stream, on the south side beyond the Bura-bura were the Wamba-wamba on the Terrick plains.
On the north side of the Murray there were other tribes covering a considerable part of Riverina south of Hay and Deniliquin, of which the Baraba-baraba may be taken as the example. The country occupied by this tribe extended from Mathoura between Deniliquin and Moama on the south to Jerilderie or Narandera on the east, to Moulamein on the south-east, and Dry Lake on the north-east.
With the exception of the Wiimbaio, whose name is taken from the word in their language Wiim, meaning "man," all the river tribes spoken of have been named from their language, or rather from their dialects, in which the negative is respectively Taat or Taath, Leitchi, Weki, Wathi, and so on, and reduplicated as their speech. This practice is common over a large part of Victoria, as for instance in the Wurunjerri tribe of the Yarra River, which, with other tribes, was commonly spoken of as the Woëworung, that is the "No-lip," hence "No speech."
Further up the River Murray on the Victorian side there was formerly a strong tribe called Bangerang, about which the works of Mr. E. M. Curr give some information. He had personal acquaintance in 1841 with the tribes which occupied the southern frontage of the Murray, from Echuca to Cobram, and up the course of its southern confluents the Campaspe, Goulburn, and Broken River for some distance. This comprised an area extending as far south as Toolamba, fifty miles from the Murray and about the same distance east and west. He enumerates ten different tribes each of which occupied a definite area of country, and were approximately 1200 in number. Of these tribes he says that "properly there was only one tribe named Bangerang, which consisted of two independent sections, the Wongatpan and Towroonban who, when speaking of themselves collectively always used the term Bangerang. But besides these there were eight other tribes in the area above referred to, which sometimes spoke of themselves, and were always spoken of by others, as Bangerang." South of this area he indicates the respective countries of other tribes, and he says that they spoke a language which differed from that of the Bangerang.
Properly speaking the river tribes, which, by the way, were confined to their respective sides of the river, were merely the local parts of a large organisation. Each one being certainly composed of lesser local groups analogous to these which I have already described and others yet to be mentioned. That such was the case can be reasonably inferred from the statement made by Mr. Curr that ten tribes were spoken of by themselves and by others as Bangerang.
The same organisation of river tribes extended without doubt up the Murray and its tributaries.
I have not been able to obtain any information as to the tribes occupying the course of the Murray between the Bangerang and Albury, or on the Ovens lower than the Buffalo Mountains. One of the tribes, allied to those on the Upper Goulburn River, was located on the Buffalo River, and representatives of it attended one of the great tribal meetings of the Wurunjerri tribe near Melbourne in the early forties of the last century. I was informed by one of the men (a Wurunjerri) who attended that meeting that that tribe was organised like his own.
Tribes of North-Western Victoria
In speaking of the Wiimbaio I said that their country adjoined the northern boundary of the Wotjobaluk tribe, who inhabited a tract of country lying between the Wimmera and Richardson Rivers. The tribal name is taken from the word Wotjo, meaning "man," and baluk, "people," the latter word being in its extended form Wotjo-ba-laiuruk that is, "men and women." Less frequently the word Guli is used for Wotjo thus showing a relation to the Kulin nation. The boundaries of this tribe were as follows:—Beginning about a mile north of Dimboola on the eastern bank of the Wimmera River and following it to Lake Hindmarsh; thence by that river to Lake Albakutya, and thence by the river to its termination at the Pine Plains Lake. Thence eastward to Lake Coorong, thence by the Warraknabeal Creek to Warraknabeal, and west to the starting-point. Besides this area in which the Wotjobaluk proper lived, there was another tract where there was what may be called a sub-tribe, who were reckoned as Wotjobaluk, but who called themselves Muk-jarawaint, and who were spread over the country defined by Ararat, Carr's Plains, the Richardson River, Horsham, Rosebrook, and back into the Grampian Mountains.
To the north of the Wotjobaluk was another sub-tribe with which they intermarried, the Banju-bunan, whose organisation was like theirs, a division into local hordes. To the east of the Wotjobaluk, and adjoining them, were the Jupa-galk-wourndich, whose country extended into the Mallee scrubs, there joining the country of the river tribes before mentioned, and eastward to the Avoca River.
The Wotjobaluk, having descent through the mother, were divided into local hordes, the names of which were as follows:—
(1) The Gromiluk at Lake Hindmarsh.
(2) The Yakkil-baluk at Lake Albakutya.
(3) The Kretch-baluk at Dimboola.
(4) The Witch-wundaiuk at Warraknabeal.
(5) The Yarikiluk at Lake Coorong.
A man of one of those places, for instance of Gromiluk, would be Gromiluk-wotjo, that is "Gromiluk man."
There were tribes adjoining the Wotjo nation which the latter considered aliens—the Doenbauraket to the west, the Baluk-mernen to the north, the Wengen-marongeitch to the east, and the Juro-baluk to the south. I have not been able to locate the two latter.
The Wiradjuri and Kamilaroi
Having described the geographical and tribal organisation of the two-class tribes, I may now proceed a stage farther, and consider those tribes which have four sub- classes. I commence with the Wiradjuri, a very large tribe or nation of tribes occupying a vast extent of country in central New South Wales, and distinguished by a common language in dialectic forms, the name being derived from Wirai, " no."
The Wiradjuri boundaries, as given by Mr. A. L. P. Cameron are as follows:—" On the west by the Ita-ita tribe, commencing at Hay. On the north-west by the Bargunji tribe (Barkinji?). On the north by the Wonghibon. On the north-east by the Kamilaroi. On the east by the Nungawal. On the south-east, south and south-west Burra-bura-ba. This tribe completes the circuit by joining the Ita-ita." The Nungawal is not known to me. The Burra-bura-ba tribe was between the Wiradjuri and the tribes of the Murray River, and I have heard it called Baraba-baraba.
That part of the Wiradjuri of which I had some little knowledge had its location between Hay and Yass, and was divided into a number of sections, which in this case were hordes, descent being in the female line. The principal of these divisions are as follows:—
(1) Narrandera (prickly lizard) about Narrandera.
(2) Kuta-mundra (river turtle) about Cootamundra.
(3) Murring-bulla (two bark canoes) about Murran-burra.
It will be seen from the above that these divisions of the tribes have been perpetuated in the names of the places where these sections had their headquarters.
The Wonghibon tribe occupied country to the north of the Lachlan River, which may be approximately defined by the townships of Mossgiel, Ivanhoe, Cobar, Nymagee, and Nyngan. The only permanent water would be at its north-eastern extremity, where it took in part of the Bogan River, so that those who lived in the south must have either gone to the Lachlan or Darling in periods of drought, or lived upon water obtained from Mallee and other roots.
The eastern boundary of the Wiradjuri is the western boundary of the Kamilaroi, a large nation consisting of many tribes under the same designation, which is derived from the negative kamil or kunmil. The boundaries of the Kamilaroi are as follows:—
A narrow strip occupied on each side of the Hunter River up to Murrurundi, thence by the Dividing Range to the foot of the Moonbi, above Tamworth. Thence to Manilla, Barraba, Cobbedah, Bingera, and down the Gwydir and the Barwon to Wallget From this place by a line a little east of Barradine and Conabarrabran to the Dividing Range, near the sources of the Talbragar Creek and the Goulburn River. In short, nearly the whole of the pastoral district of Liverpool Plains.
North of the Gwydir, up to the Queensland border and on the Darling from Walgett to Bourke, we find Kamilaroi and Wollaroi mixed, and on the Castlereagh it is Kamilaroi and Wiradjuri.
The subdivisions of the Kamilaroi, which, since they have female descent, are hordes, occupy separate portions of the tribal territory, each claiming its own taurai or food and hunting grounds, the boundaries of which are well defined, and across which a stranger might not pass in search of food.
The Unghi inhabited a tract of country lying between the Maranoa and Warrego Rivers in Queensland and extending southwards to the Balonne River, being an area of about 10,000 square miles.
North of the Kamilaroi there was at least one other nation in New South Wales organised on the same lines. The Wollaroi or, as it is sometimes called, the Yualloroi, being named, as in the Kamilaroi, from the negative. To the eastward the Wollaroi did not extend beyond the Birie, the Culgoa, and the Maranoa Rivers, which probably also mark the western boundaries of the four sub-class tribes in this part of Australia, for at the Culgoa commences the Congaro language, which extends to the Warrego where the two-class system obtains.
Where two large groups of tribes which speak different languages meet there will be found a tract of country where the language is composed of both. For instance, the Kamilaroi language extends northwards to the Gwydir River. To the west of the Upper Darling River and extending to the Culgoa it is Wollaroi. Between the Darling and the Gwydir the language is mixed Kamilaroi and Wollaroi. Similarly between the Bogan and the Kamilaroi boundary, which runs north-westward from Wonabarabra to the junction of the Peel River and the Darling, the language is a mixture of Kamilaroi and Wiradjuri.
The Wollaroi, Kamilaroi, and Wiradjuri tribes have all the same social organisation, and their languages are branches of the same stock language. In such cases the people living respectively on either side of the common boundary speak a dialect compounded of both tongues, and probably could converse with members of either tribe.
With the most northern of the Kamilaroi we come into contact with other tribes having the same organisation and sub-class names, but speaking other languages. These are the Bigambul, the Ungorri, and other tribes of the same group. The former inhabited the Darling Downs and part of the Gwydir districts, about Gooniwindi, Warialdra, and Carol in the Namoi district. The name Bigambul, which is also that of the language, is derived from biga, meaning "like," the "same," "so much," "so many." The Ungorri, speaking a language of the same name, were in the country extending to St. George, Charleville, Nive, Taroom, Surat, and Condamine.
Some Queensland Tribes
Within 50 or 60 miles of Maryborough (Queensland) and including Great Sandy Island there were many tribes, or it may be tribelets or clans of one great tribe, I have not been able to satisfy myself on these points, although my informant has had exceptional opportunities of observation, from the time of his boyhood. He, however, calls them tribes, and I have followed him in doing so.
As in all cases they were composed of lesser groups, each occupying its own area of hunting and food ground. The still smaller groups were little more than undivided families consisting of several generations, for instance of grandparents, children and grandchildren occupying areas of about 10 miles radius. A number of such families hunted over the same area, and the whole community which attended the Dora ceremonies covered an extent of from 50 to 60 miles radius. The tribal divisions bore names of which the following are examples:—
|Olongbura||Sandy Cape||Frazer Island.|
About the year 1859 these blacks might have been counted by thousands, and their customs and observances were strictly followed, but in the year 1888 all the fragments of the tribelets could not number 150 men, women and children.
The tribes may be divided into inland, fishing, and coast tribes, the inland people visiting the coast at intervals.
About 60 miles from Maryborough there was the Kaiabara tribe, who lived in the Bunya Mountains, and was one of the group of tribes just referred to. All these tribes had the same organisation, and met at the great tribal ceremonies. Indeed it was in the Kaiabara country that "Bunya-bunya feasts" were periodically held. The Kaiabara were one of the above-mentioned "inland tribes."
Somewhat farther to the north the tribes are also organised in four sub-classes, and there is a group of which I take the Kuinmurbura as an example. This tribe inhabits the peninsula between Broad Sound and Shoalwater Bay, north of Rockhampton. The name may be rendered as Kuin, " plains," and bura, "of or belonging," and the range of this allied group of tribes is indicated by the statement of the Kuinmurbura, that the adjoining tribes are their "mates," while the Rockhampton blacks are "of another country." The following is a list of the tribes which, with the Kuinmurbura, form a nation:—
(1) Kutu-bura, meaning "belonging to the end," referring to their country being at the end of the peninsula.
(2) Riste-bura, "belonging to sandfly." Between Pine Mountain and Shoalwater Bay.
(3) Wandu-bura, "belonging to mountain." Between the head of Broad Sound and Shoalwater Bay.
(4) Wuru-bura, "belonging to Wuru," that is, bread made from a nut called Wuru. On the east side of the head of Broad Sound.
(5) Pukan-bura, "belonging to a track or road (pukan)." In the Agapina range, to the west of the head of Broad Sound.(6) Muin-bura, that is, "belonging to ashes." South of the Pukan-bura and opposite the Wuru-bura.
The tribes outside this small nation, between the Mackenzie and the sea, down to Gladstone, are as follows, being, however, not regarded by the Kuinmurbura as belonging to themselves:—
(1) Taru-bura, "belonging to fig." West of the head of Shoalwater Bay.
(2) Weluin-bura, "belonging to iguana's tail." East of the Wuru-bura.
(3) Rundu-bura, at Townshend's Island.
(4) Waran-bura, "belonging to sand." At Pearl Bay.
(5) Kuke-bura, "belonging to the green-headed ant." Between Cape Manifold and Cape Clinton.
(6) Butcha-bura, "belonging to Butcha." A species of Banksia about Mount Atherton.
(7) Baipul-bura, "belonging to 'big water' or river." On the Fitzroy River, near Woodville.
(8) Karun-bura, "belonging to Karun," that is, the water that exudes from a mussel when placed on the fire. South of Yamba.
(9) Buri-bura, "belonging to eels," or more properly the flames caused by their fat when placed on the fire. South of Yamba.
(10) Bikal-bura, "belonging to Bikal" that is a grub. On the river near Rockhampton.
(11) Konku-bura, "belonging to sickness, retching." On the coast of Keppel's Bay.
(12) Wara-bura, "belonging to Wara," a parasitical plant known as wild guava. South of Rockhampton.
(13) Bombarra-bura, "belonging to open country," that is the mainland west of Broad Sound.
My correspondent speaks of these as tribes, and the area occupied by them is so considerable that it supports this view, but on the other hand their names suggest "local divisions" of a large tribe. I am not able to decide this matter, and my correspondent is not now available.
Besides these, there are the following tribes, of which I know no more that their names and localities:—
The Taruin-bura, or "belonging to the Big River" west of the Broad Sound. The Yetti-maralla, south of them on the Mackenzie River, from Woodville. The Tarumbul, south of Rockhampton and the Orambul, on the coast between Keppel Bay and Gladstone.
West of the Great Dividing Range, and separated by it from the tribes last described, there were many tribes having the four sub-class system on the waters of the Belyando, Barcoo, Thomson, and Flinders Rivers, and of which I take the Wakelbura as an example.
They were formerly called Kerbulbura, from Kerbul, the edible root of a water-lily which grows in the swamps and flat watercourses; the present name of the tribe is derived from Wakel (eels), and the possessive postfix bura. It is somewhat uncertain whether the Wakelbura is to be considered as a tribe, a sub-tribe, or merely a horde of a large tribe. Perhaps the latter may be the true view to take, yet in such a case there ought to be some common name to show the extent of the tribe. My correspondent, however, has been unable to solve this question, although he has been acquainted with the Wakelbura since boyhood. It is now too late, for I have learned during the completion of this work that the tribe is practically extinct, having been "destroyed by the use of opium" acquired from the Chinese employed in the district. If the Wakelbura is a horde of a large tribe, the following would be the hordes composing it:—
(1) Wakelbura, situated on the Belyando River, above its junction with the Suttor River.
(2) The Kumbukabura, from Kumbuka, "the Broad-leaved Ironbark," occupied the country westward of the Belyando River across the sources of the Thomson River.
(3) The Auanbura, from Auan, "the young emu," on the Upper Belyando River, above the Wakelbura.
(4) The Dorobura, from Doro, "the root of a tree," on the east side of the Belyando River, above its junction with the Suttor River.
(5) The Mutherabura, from Muthera, a grub found in the Brigalow tree. In the years 1883-86 this tribe is said to have changed its name to Waralbura, from waral, "a canoe" or "boat." The change was made because the owners of the run on which the Waralbura lived put a large boat on a lagoon near the homestead, and the tribes-people called themselves after it. This shows how slight a circumstance might cause a change of name, but such a change would be unlikely to affect a whole tribe spread over so large a tract as that the Mutherabura occupied. It looks, therefore, to me as if the change was merely in the name of that small division which lived in the immediate vicinity of the homestead.
(6) The Munkibura, from the name given by these tribes to sheep. They lived about Natal Downs and on Cape River. Here again there is such a change as that just referred to, and the same argument may be applied to this case, namely, that the change was probably that of some one of the lesser divisions of the horde, or tribe if it were such.
Adjoining these hordes there were other tribes, or hordes of tribes, which were more or less nearly related to them. The Mutabura were to the south-west, on the Thomson River. The Kumbukabura, on the extreme source of the Thomson River, and the Tilbabura, who became extinct about the year 1865, and lived south-west of and adjoining the Auanbura. Two tribes also became extinct in the year 1865; and when the Bithelbura tribe, who lived north-east of the Auanbura, died out the latter took their country.
Beyond the Thomson River there were other tribes organised in the same manner. The strength of the bonds connecting the Wakelbura and the tribes farther out may be estimated by the following particulars. All the tribes, sub-tribes, or hordes mentioned, as the case might be, and with others still more distant, as for instance the Mutabura from the Upper Thomson River, did not come to the Wakelbura ceremonies in a body, nor did the Yankibura, a still more distant tribe near Aramac. A few of them accompanied the Kumbukabura, and when the Wakelbura went to the Mutabura or the Yankibura ceremonies, it was only a few of them who did so, in company with Auanbura or Kumbukabura people. The same applies to all the distant tribes, which had some relations with the Wakelbura, and visited them. The rule was that the nearer tribe came in a body, and the more distant were represented by a few members, who accompanied some other friendly tribe.
Another tribe to be mentioned is the Dalebura, whose country was within a fifty-mile radius round Lammermoor Head Station at the Thomson River.
My correspondent spoke of this tribe as the "faithful Dalebura."
The farthest range south of the four sub-class system of which I have taken the Wakelbura as the type, appears to be about Thargominda, 400 miles in a direct line from that tribe. The point is, however, the extreme limit also of the Buntamurra tribe, whose country extends from Thargominda to Kaiabara Creek in the north-west, the Paroo River in the east, and a considerable distance up the Bulloo River northwards.
It is, in fact, situated on the boundary of this class system, and in touch with the two-class system of the Darling River tribes.
Similar statements have been made to me as to the tribes which occupied the country between the Belyando, the Burdekin, and the coast, thus connecting the inland tribes with those north and south of the Kuinmurbura. The organisation of all these tribes on a geographical basis may be assumed, whether they are properly described as tribes or should be considered as their component parts.
The particulars given as to the tribes of this part of Australia are a good instance of the manner in which a large tract of country claimed by any one tribe is parcelled out among its lesser divisions. It is in such cases most difficult to decide whether one has to do with a single tribe, with a group of sub-tribes, or a number of hordes where there is female descent, or clans where there is male descent. More especially is this difficulty apparent when the inquiries have to be made through a distant correspondent, however willing and careful he may be.
I may mention here that when investigating the social organisation of the Australian tribes some 30 years ago, I obtained information as to certain tribes as far north as the Mitchell River in Northern Queensland. This is far beyond the geographical limits fixed for this work, and as that part of Australia is included in the field now being so ably investigated by Dr. W. E. Roth, I omit further reference.
We may now turn to the coast tribes from the Great Australian Bight, along the south, south-east, and part of the east coast of Australia.
Two lesser tribes on the coast to the west of the Yerkla- mining speak a dialect of their language. Beyond are aliens only known to them by names, meaning "long nose" and "snake men."
The western shores of Spencer Gulf was occupied by the Parnkalla tribe, having class names and a local organisation similar to that described for the Dieri. On the opposite side of the gulf is Yorke Peninsula, which was wholly occupied by the Narrang-ga. The tribal country is divided into four parts—Kurnara, meaning "north," being the northern part of the peninsula south of Wallaroo, Kadina, and Clinton. Windera, meaning "east," being the eastern part of the peninsula, between Kurnara and Dilpa, which latter is the extreme southern end of the peninsula. Wari, meaning "west," being the western part of the peninsula between Kurnara and Dilpa.
The distribution of this tribe into localities, the sum of which makes up the whole of the tribal country, is a feature in the organisation of some of the coast tribes. This will be more fully studied in the second part of the chapter, but it may be mentioned here, that in such cases the local divisions and those of the class organisation coincide, usually accompanied by a change of descent from the female to the male line.
As there is male descent in this tribe, the local divisions are clans, and taking Kurnara as an example, its area coincides with the class division Kari ("emu"), all of whose members belong to it. This is a remarkable innovation and an advance upon the Dieri murdu, the members of which are found distributed through all the local divisions (hordes).
The country of the Narrinyeri commences at Cape Jervis, on the opposite side of St. Vincent Gulf. An account of this tribe was given by the Rev. George Taplin, in addition to which I have been able to obtain other explanatory facts through communications from him and also from the late Mr. T. W. Taplin. In order to bring this additional evidence into place I shall incorporate such particulars from the Rev. George Taplin's work as are necessary to show the local, and in the second part of this chapter, also the social organisation of the tribe. The Narrinyeri was essentially a coast tribe, and its country extended from Cape Jervis to Lacepede Bay, and inland up the Murray for about 30 miles above Lake Alexandrina. It was divided into eighteen local groups or clans, with male descent, each clan inhabiting a definite part of the tribal territory. As with the Narrang-ga the totems are localised in the divisions of the country held by the clans, showing that the local organisation existed in a more developed form than in the two-class tribes of which I have already spoken.
Somewhat west of Lacepede Bay the Narrinyeri were joined by tribes allied to the Buandik. So far as I am aware, no particulars have been preserved of the local divisions of these tribes. In the absence of such information I am not able to say what were the local clans or hordes, but in the account given, it is said that the Buandik was one of the five following tribes, each occupying its own territory, and using different dialects of the same language.
The country of the Buandik was on the coast between the Glenelg River and Rivoli Bay. Between Rivoli Bay and Lacepede Bay was the Moatatunga tribe. From Lacepede Bay to the boundary of the Narrinyeri was the Taloinjunga tribe. Inland from the Buandik was the Painchunga, and from the Moatatunga inland the Wiantunga. These are the five tribes referred to.
On the east side the Buandik adjoined the tribes of South-Western Victoria, of which I have very little information, and therefore gladly avail myself of the account given of them by the late Mr. Dawson, to complete as far as possible the account of Victorian tribes, and especially those of the coast. The only tribe of South-Western Victoria of which I have a personal knowledge is a small one called the Gournditch-mara, whose headquarters were at Gournditch or Lake Condah, and they belonged to a nation calling themselves Mara, "men," which extended from the southern limits of the Muk-jarawaint to the sea, and from Mount Gambler to the Eumerella Creek, and included the Kuurn-kopan-noot and Peek-whuurong tribes described by Mr. Dawson. The Gournditch-mara were, it seems, divided into four sections, Kerup ("water"), Boom ("mountain"), Direk ("swamp"), and Gilger ("river"), an arrangement not influencing marriage, and appearing to be merely one of the local designations. It may be compared with the Sea-coasters, Tree-climbers, and Mountaineers of the Yuin tribes. In the Gournditch-mara there was descent in the female line, that is, the child took the class-name and totem of his mother, but belonged to the local division of its father, and spoke his language.
The area occupied by the tribes described by Mr. Dawson may be roughly defined as lying between Portland, Colac, Ararat, and possibly Pitfield.
It seems that there were at least ten languages, or perhaps more correctly dialects, and it is reasonable to assume that there was the same number of tribes. The tribal territory was divided between its members, and each family had the exclusive right by inheritance to a part of the tribal lands, which was named after its owner, and every child born on it was named after some object on it. When the boundaries met at lakes or swamps celebrated for game, well-defined portions of these were marked out, and any poaching or trespassing was severely punished. No individual of any neighbouring family or tribe could hunt or walk over the land of another without permission from the head of the family group which owned it, and a stranger found trespassing on it might legally be put to death.
We may assume that the tribes described by Mr. Dawson did not extend much to the east of Colac, where was the western boundary of one tribe of the Kulin nation. This nation occupied the country from Colac to Mount Baw Baw, and from Wangaratta and Murchison on the north to Port Phillip and Western Port on the south.
The following table shows all that I have been able to learn of the tribes which constituted the Kulin, and of their local organisation. It is a defective list, but will serve to give a general idea of the great extent of country covered by these tribes, who used, either wholly or alternatively with some other term, the word Kulin for man:—
|Name of Tribe and Locality.||Language.|
Yarra River watershed.
Western end of Mount Macedon, extending to Bullengarook and Daylesford.
South side Dandenong Mountains.
Coast from Werribee River to Anderson's Inlet.
Geelong to Mount Emu and Werribee River.
From Daylesford to Boort and Castlemaine to Lake Buloke.
Goulburn River, Seymour.
Goulburn River, Murchison.
Alexandra Upper Yea River.
Junction of Yea River and Goulburn.
Broken River above and below Benalla.
Ovens River, Wangaratta.
The Wurunjerri-baluk (also called the Woëworung from their language) gave the following as the boundaries of their country.
From the junction of the Saltwater and the Yarra Rivers, along the course of the former to Mount Macedon, thence to Mount Baw-Baw, along the Dividing Range, round the sources of the Plenty and Yarra to the Dandenong Mountains, thence by Gardiner's Creek and the Yarra to the starting-point.
It may be mentioned that a strip of country from the mouth of the Werribee River, and including what is now Williamstown and the southern suburbs of Melbourne, belonged to the Bunurong, a coast tribe, which occupied the coast line from there round Hobson's Bay to Mordialloc, the whole of the Mornington Peninsula, and the coast from Westernport Bay to Anderson's Inlet.
At the time when Melbourne was established, the Wurunjerri were divided into the following clans:—
1. The true Wurunjerri, under the headman, Jakka-jakka, occupied the Yarra flats and the upper part of that river to its source, including the northern slopes of the Dandenong Mountains, thence by Gardiner's Creek to the Yarra River, and by it to the Darebin Creek.
(2) The Kurnaje-berreing, in two subdivisions: (a) under the headman Billi-billeri, lived at and had the custody of the aboriginal stone quarry near Lancefield, occupied the site of Melbourne and the country up the eastern side of the Saltwater River and its western branch to Mount Macedon, also the western half of the country lying between the Saltwater and Plenty Rivers; (b) under the headman Bebe-jan, the country on the Darebin Creek, and on the Yarra River thence to about Warrandyte, and also the watershed of the Plenty River and Diamond Creek.
(3) The Boi-berrit, under their headman Bungerim lived on the western side of the Saltwater River, with their headquarters about Sunbury, and the western end of Mount Macedon.
These clans were again divided into lesser groups of people, and each had its own definite tract of country and food ground.Tribes belonging to the Kulin nation lived on all the rivers rising in the Victorian Alps from the Yarra round northwards to the Ovens River. The Wurunjerri was one of them, and it may be well to say here something of the country they inhabited, or at least visited, during the summer months. The Great Dividing Range, which to the west of Melbourne sinks to a comparatively low ridge, with only isolated mountains, rises on the north-east to a great chain, which reaches its highest altitudes on either side of the border between the States of Victoria and New South Wales. The great spurs of these mountains enclose valleys through which rivers flow northwards to the Murray, and southwards to Bass Strait. Tribes such as the Wurunjerri claimed the rivers flowing through their country, to their sources, where their summer hunting grounds were situated.
The Kurnai of Gippsland
The Bunurong tribe, whose eastern bounds were at Anderson's Inlet, were there met by the Kurnai, also a coast tribe, which occupied almost the whole of what is now Gippsland. This great area, 200 miles in length by about 70 in width, lies between the sea-coast and the Dividing Range. It was divided into five portions, each of which was inhabited by a clan of the Kurnai. These five clans spoke three dialects, more or less unintelligible to each other. The dialects spoken were Nulit by the Brayakaulung, the Brataualung, and the Tatungalung, the Muk-thang or "excellent" speech by the Brabralung, and Thangquai or "broad" speech by the Krauatungalung.
The clans were divided into lesser groups, each of which had a special name, derived in some cases from their principal locality, while in other cases it was the local group which gave the name to the locality. For instance, a large section of the Brataua clan lived on the upper waters of the Avon River, and were called Kutbuntaura or fire-carriers. This name was also that of their country, with the postfix wurk, meaning "land" or "country."
Such large sections were again divided and subdivided, each subdivision having its own tract of hunting and food ground, until the unit was a small group of kindred, frequently an old man, his sons, married or unmarried, with their respective wives and children. Such an instance was that of the Bunjil-baul, or men of the island, who lived on Raymond Island in Lake King, and who not only claimed that island, but also all the swans' eggs laid upon it, as their own exclusive property. Although it was separated from the mainland, which was the country of the Brabralung, by merely a narrow channel, and from that of the Tatungalung by several miles of lake, the Bunjil-bau claimed to be "partly Tatungalung, and partly Brabralung, but mostly Tatungalung."
Each male received the name of Bunjil-bau at his initiation. The oldest male of the family had authority over the others, but they were all collectively Bunjil-baul.
Any stranger who took swans' eggs on this island without the permission of one of the Bunjil-baul had to fight them, but there was no prohibition against friendly tribesmen who might visit the island taking any other kind of food or game.Taking such a family as the tribal unit of the Kurnai, it was the aggregation of such families which formed what may be called a division, inhabiting a larger area, and the aggregate of the divisions formed the clan.
Collins, in his account of the establishment of the colony of New South Wales, says that a certain native named Bennil-long claimed the island of Me-mel (now known as Goat Island), close by Sydney Cove, as his own property, and that
it had been his father's. He likewise spoke of other persons who possessed this kind of hereditary property.
The Kurnai extended to Cape Everard, where the Ben-kurnai, that is the people who lived at the Ben River (Sydenham Inlet), were the most easterly of the tribe and the neighbours of the most southern of the Coast Murring tribes.
The following table, together with map, p. 80, will show, more distinctly than a mere verbal description, the local organisation of the Kurnai.
|Krauatungalung, from Krauat, "east," and galung, a possessive postfix, "of" or "belonging to."
Claimed the sea coast from near the entrance to the Gippsland Lakes to Cape Everard; Lake Tyers and its tributaries as far as Mount Naua-Naua. All the streams flowing into Ewing's Marsh. The Snowy River up as far as Willis. East of the Snowy River they only had a narrow strip along the coast, the inland country being held by the Biduelli tribe.
|(a) Ben, Sydenham Inlet.
(b) Dura, Orbost about twelve miles up the Snowy River from the sea.
(c) Wurnung-gatti, Lake Tyers.
(d) Brt-brita, Jimmy's Point, now called Kalimna.
|Brabralung, from Bra, "man"; the reduplication may be taken as "manly,"
Claimed all the country watered by the Tambo, Nicholson, and Mitchell Rivers and their tributaries to their extreme sources, and west of the Mitchell River to Providence Ponds, with a corresponding frontage to the Gippsland Lakes.
|(e) Bruthen, on the Tambo River.
(f) Waiung. This word as Wy-Yung gives a name to a parish near Bairnsdale.
(g) Wuk-wuk, Lindenow. Also pronounced Wurk-wurk, or "ground," "earth."
(h) Dairgo, the Dargo River.
(i) Munji, North Shore of Lake Victoria, colloquially "there."
|Brayakaulung, from Bra and yak, "west."
They claimed all the country west of Providence Ponds watered by the Avon, Macalister, Thompson, and La Trobe Rivers, down to the junction of the two latter, thence following the east side of the La Trobe to Lake Wellington. Thence eastward by the Lakes to near Roseneath; thence northwards to Providence Ponds.
|(k) Kutbuntaura, Bushy Park. Kutbun, to "carry" or "have," taura, "fire"; also the name of a hill near Bushy Park.
(l) Bunjil Nullung, the country between the Avon and Providence Ponds; also name of a man. Nullung, "mud."
(m) Bunjil Daan, the country between the Avon, Macalister, and Thompson Rivers. The name of a man. Daan is "snow."
(n) Bunjil Kraura, all the country of the clan, west of (m). The name of a man.
|Brataualung. Claimed all the country from the La Trobe River to Cape Liptrap, and from the southern watershed to the sea.||(o) Kut-wut, the Agnes River.
(p) Yauung, Warrigal Creek.
(q) Drelin, Merrinian's Creek.
|Tatungalung. Tat is the sea, also the south.
Claimed all the country west of the Krauatun, and east of the Brataua, lying between the Gippsland Lakes and the sea, together with all the islands in the Lakes, excepting Flanagan Island, which belonged to the Brt-brita division of the of the Krauatungalung clan.
|(r) Yunthur, adjoining and east of Merriman's Creek.
(s) Ngarawut, the south side of Lake Victoria.
(t) Binnajerra, part of Baul-baul, that is, the sandy country, lying between the Lakes and the sea.
Beyond the sources of the Yarra and the Goulburn the Dividing Range widens out into great alpine plateaux, with tracts of grassy downs and mountain summits, clothed in summer time with alpine flowers. Such tablelands extend through Victoria from near Woodspoint, at the sources of the Goulburn and Macalister Rivers, to New South Wales, where their highest elevation is reached in Mount Kosciusko. The highest plateaux are in winter covered deeply with snow, but the lower ones, such as that of Omeo, are habitable all the year round. On such elevated plateaux were located certain tribes, such as the Ya-itma-thang, the Wolgal, and the Ngarigo.
The Ya-itma-thang, commonly called the Omeo tribe, was divided into two sections—(a) the Theddora-mittung, occupying the sources of the Mitta-Mitta River and its tributaries down to about the Gibbo Mountain, the Upper Kiewa River and the Ovens River to the Buffalo Mountain, thus being the neighbours of the Mogullum-bitch, the furthest out of the Kulin tribes. (b) The Kandangora-mittung, who lived on the Omeo plains, the Limestone River down to its junction with the Indi River, and the Tambo River to Tongiomungie. On the latter river they were in contact with the Kurnai. It is worth noting that the old road from Omeo to Bruthen follows the trail by which the Gippsland and Omeo blacks made hostile incursions into each other's countries.
The first mentioned, the now extinct Ya-itma-thang, occupied the mountain country in which rise the rivers Mitta-Mitta and Tambo, and some of the sources of the Ovens, and extended north at least as far as the Upper Yackandanda River, called by them Yakonda. I have been able to learn but little of the local organisation of the Theddora. Their country was discovered and occupied about the year 1838. In 1852 gold was discovered at Livingstone Creek, one of the confluents of the Mitta-Mitta, and a great rush of miners set into the Omeo diggings. In 1862 there only remained four or five of this once numerous tribe.
The eastern boundary of the Ya-itma-thang was about the Cobbora Mountains, and thence down the Indi River to Tom Groggin's Run, their neighbours on that side being the Wolgal and Ngarigo tribes.
The Wolgal lived on the tablelands of the highest of the Australian Alps, and in the country falling from them to the north. The boundaries of their country commenced at Kauwambat near to the Pilot Mountain, following the Indi River to Walleregang, thence to the starting-point, Kauwambat, by Tumberumba, Tumut, Queenbean, Cooma, and the Great Dividing Range.
The Ngarigo had the Wolgal on the north, the Ya-itma-thang on the north-west, the Kurnai on the west and south-west, and the Yuin or Coast Murring to the south-cast. The Ngarigo in fact occupied the Manero tableland. The name of this tribe was that of its language, and the tribespeople called themselves "Murring," that is "men," indicating that it belonged to another nation who used that term in common.
The Biduelli Tribe
In that part of Eastern Victoria called Croajingolong there was a small tribe called the Biduelli, who occupied the forest and jungle covered country between the high coast
ranges and the immediate coast along which the Kurnai lived. This tribe may be considered an appendix to the Ngarigo, Murring, and Kurnai, being a mixture from them all.
They had the two sex totems of the Kurnai, some of the Murring totem names, and also the two class names of the Ngarigo. These people were enclosed in one of the most inhospitable tracts of country which I know of in south-eastern Australia, lying behind a narrow strip of coast country which the Krauatun Kurnai held between the Snowy River and Cape Everard. The Ngarigo lived beyond the coast range to the north of them, and the Coast Murring along the littoral tract north of Cape Howe. I have traversed the mountains, swamps, and scrubs of this piece of country three times, before it was occupied by white settlers, and as compared with the adjacent parts, there was but little animal life. The Biduelli were few in number, inhabiting small open spaces in the dense jungle, and called themselves "men" (maap).
After lengthened inquiries from their survivors, and from their neighbours the Kurnai, the Ngarigo, and Murring, I have ascertained the following facts:—
They spoke a mixture of the adjacent languages, they intermarried with adjacent tribes, and it seems that their country formed a refuge for what one may term "broken men."
This prima facie case of a mixed descent is strengthened by the case of a Biduelli man, who claimed as his country the upper valley of the Brodribb River. He told me that his "father's father" was a Kurnai of Bukkan-munji, who left his country and settled in the small open tract, known as Goungra Valley, west of Mount Ellery. His son obtained a wife from the Theddora of Omeo, and the son of this marriage, my informant, married a Ngarigo woman. This pedigree accounts for Yiirung and Yukembruk, as sex totem and class name.
Such a case as that of my informant's grandfather corresponds with the account given to me by the Kurnai of a man who broke the marriage law of his tribe, by taking for a wife a woman who stood in the relation of tribal daughter to him, escaped with her from the vengeance of the offended kindred, and only reappeared when the whites had settled the country, and he could thus find protection from tribal punishment.
I can feel no doubt that the Biduelli country was an Australian "cave of Adullam"; that the tribe was built up by refugees from tribal justice, or individual vengeance, and that they organised themselves, as far as they could do so, on the old-accustomed lines. It is a good example of what Dr. Hearn has called the formation of a non-genealogical tribe.
While the Kurnai considered the Kulin on their western border, and the Theddora and Ngarigo on the north and north-east as enemies, they recognised in the Biduelli a sort of distant kinship, and spoke of them as Biduelli, not by the opprobrious names which they usually applied to other outsiders.
The Kurnai tribe carries us to the border of New South Wales, and the Wolgal, who extended down the Upper Murray to near Albury, leaves only a comparatively small part of Victoria, as to which I have not obtained information about the native tribes which inhabited it.
This is the country lying on the south bank of the Murray, and extending some distance up the Mitta-Mitta, Kiewa, Yackandanda, and Ovens Rivers. I feel pretty safe in saying that such a tract of country would be occupied by tribes in the same way as the Bangerang occupied similar country at the junction of the Campaspe, Goulburn, and Broken Rivers with the Murray.
The Coast Tribes of New South Wales
Reverting to the coast tribes, I now turn to the Murring, or more especially the Yuin tribes. These claimed the country from Cape Howe to the Shoalhaven River, in New South Wales. They formed two large sub-tribes or sub-divisions, called respectively Guyangal and Kurial, from the words guya, "south," and kuru, "north," gal being the possessive postfix. The inland extent of their country included the fall from the coast range to the sea, and their local organisation is as follows:—
|(1) Thauaira, east of Malagoota Inlet.
(2) Tadera-manji, in the Bega district.
(3) Bugelli-manji, in the Moruya district.
|(4) Name not ascertained, in the Braidwood district.
(5) Name not ascertained, in the Ulladulla district.
(6) Gurungatta-manji, in the Lower Shoalhaven River district.
Not only are the Coast Murring divided into the "southerners" and "northerners," but they are also divided into those who live on the coast and those who live inland. The former are the Katungal, from Katung, "the sea," called by the whites "fishermen." Those who live inland from the sea are called Paiendra, from Paien, "a tomahawk," and are called by the whites "Waddymen," from the word "Waddy," an aboriginal term for a tree, and referring to their climbing trees in search of game for food. Those who live on the high mountains still further back are called the Bemeringal or mountaineers, from Bemering "a mountain." Perhaps strictly the Bemering include the people living on the Manero tableland, and even those on the high country as far as Kiandra, but not those on the fall thence to the north.
The Katungal commence at Moruya, and extend far up the coast including distant tribes. Yuin is also a general name for all the tribes from Merimbula to Port Jackson, and "maan" for those from Merimbula to Cape Howe. Beyond the most distant Bemeringal known to the Yuin, namely at Kiandra, there were tribes they called Woradjera and also Kunamildan, or "come by night," who had at times crossed the mountains and killed the Murring. The former are clearly the Wiradjuri, some of whom lived on the lower Tumut River.
Claims to particular tracts of country arose in certain of these tribes by birth. When a child was born among the Yuin, its father pointed out some hills, lakes, or rivers to the men and women there present as being the bounds of his child's country, being that where his father lived, or where he himself was born and had lived. It was just the same with a girl, who had her mother's country, and also that in which she was born. Besides this the father took the country where his child was born, if away from his own locality, and the mother took that where her daughter was born under similar circumstances.
A leading man of the Snowy River Krauatungalung, who acted as my messenger to the Yuin, concerning the holding of a Kuringal, was born in their country and therefore claimed it as his; his mother was a Ngarigo woman, and therefore he claimed her country. He was the accredited messenger between the Krautun Kurnai and the Ngarigo and Yuin.
The son of one of the headmen of the Theddora was born in the Ngarigo country, to which his mother belonged. It was therefore his country, and, as he put it, it would be just the same "for any one who was born there." One of the old men of the Wolgal said that "the place where a man is born is his country, and he always has a right to hunt over it, and all others born there had also the right to do so."
Of the coast tribes between the Shoalhaven River and Newcastle I know but little. All that I could learn from the Coast Murring was that the tribes, so far as they knew, were Katungal, and had Bunan ceremonies like theirs.
Collins, in his description of the natives of Botany Bay and Port Jackson, says that "each family has a particular place of residence from which is derived its distinguishing name. This is formed by adding the monosyllable 'gal' to the name of the place; thus the southern shore of Botany Bay is called Gwea, and the people who inhabit it style themselves Gwea-gal. Those who live on the north shore of Port Jackson are called Cam-mer-ray-gal, that part of the harbour being distinguished from the others by the name of Cam-mer-ray. Of this last family, or tribe, the settlers had heard Ben-nil-long and other natives speak (before they were otherwise known) as a very powerful people, who could oblige them to attend wherever and whenever they desired."
He also says that the natives on the sea coast had little other support than fish, and men, women, and children were employed in procuring them, the men killing them with a fizgig, while the females used the hook and line. He says elsewhere that the wood natives had to climb trees after honey, or small animals such as the flying squirrel and opossum, and they also had a laborious method of snaring animals. In this he evidently refers to those local divisions of the tribes called by the Yuin Katungal and Paiendra.
Of the tribes, however, which inhabited the watersheds of the Hunter and Manning Rivers, and the coast between Port Hunter and the Broadwater River, I have been able to gather some particulars which may be supplemented by extracts from a but little known account of Port Stephens, written by Robert Dawson in the year 1830.
The tribe on the coast at Lake Macquarie was the Awabakal, whose language is recorded in the interesting treatises of the Rev. L. E. Threlkeld. Inland from the Awabakal was the Geawe-gal tribe, whose country was part of the valley of the Hunter River, extending to each lateral watershed, and from 20 to 30 miles along the valley on each side of Glendon. These aborigines spoke the language of, and intermarried with, those of Maitland, less frequently with those of the Paterson River, and rarely with those of Mussel Brook. They were always in dread of war with the Kamilaroi, who followed down the heads of the Hunter across from the Talbragar to the Nunmurra waters, and even occasionally made raids as far as Jerry's Plains. A section of the Kamilaroi occupied the upper waters flowing into the Hunter River, and those which form the heads of the Goulburn River, for instance the Munmurra Creek. The Dividing Range, between the Munmurra and the Talbragar, sinks down so that a traveller would not think that he was crossing the boundary between any waters, much less those which divide the Darling waters from the Hunter River. This probably facilitated the spread of the powerful Kamilaroi.
To the north-east and adjoining the Geawe-gal were two tribes, or perhaps two sections of a large tribe, one on the Paterson River and the other, to which my correspondent refers, being on the Williams and its tributary, the Chichester. After careful inquiries I have not succeeded in learning the name of this tribe with certainty. So far, however, as I am able to form an opinion, the name Gringai may be used, since it is given for those blacks who lived in that part of the country lying about Dungog. They were distributed over the country in local groups called by them "Nurra."
Their territory extended up the valley of the Williams and its tributaries to their sources, and southwards for about 8 miles below Dungog. There were Nurras all over this district, at convenient distances apart, each of which consisted of six to nine huts, or families. In 1840 the blacks in this tract of country numbered about 250 all told. They intermarried with the people of the Paterson River on the one side, and those of the Gloucester on the other.
From Port Stephens to the Queensland border there is a stretch of coast of over 300 miles in length. It is a comparatively narrow strip of well-watered and generally fertile country between the sea and the Great Dividing Range. Formerly it was inhabited by numerous tribes which have now almost become extinct.
Very little has been recorded as to their tribal organisation, beliefs and customs, but what there is suggests to me that they probably differed from the inland Kamilaroi tribes much as other coast tribes further south differed from those inland, but not so much perhaps in their local, as in their social, organisation.
Amongst these were the Kombaingheri, whose four sub- classes and the rules of their intermarriage are recorded in the following chapters.
Coast Tribes of Southern Queensland
On the coast immediately to the north of the boundary between New South Wales and Queensland there is a tribe called Chepara whose territory is said to have extended from Danger Point to near Brisbane.
It is to be noted that the country claimed by this tribe overlaps that of the Turrbal tribe, whose boundaries are said to have been the Pine River on the north, and the Logan River to the south, extending about 20 miles inland, and including the present site of Brisbane and its suburbs. These people were divided into local groups which met together at set times—for instance, the "mullet season."
The Chepara tribe was divided into at least the following clans with male descent, and each of the clans was subdivided into local groups.
(1) Chepara. This was the principal clan, and gave its name to the whole tribe. Its country was to the south of Brisbane, somewhat inland, but also along the coast.
(2) Mungulkabultu, in the Pimpana district.
(3) Munnadali, about the sources of the Albert River.
(4) Kuttibul, about the sources of the Logan River.
(5) Yungurpan, in the Coomera and Merang districts.
(6) Birrin, at the Tweed River.
(7) Burginmeri, in the Cleveland district.
(8) Chermanpura, the district along the coast.
There were some minor offshoots, which are not remembered by the blacks who were my informant's authorities.
The names of the clans were derived from local associations, as, for instance, Chepara means the coast, Mungulkabultu the neighbourhood of the mountains; the other names are from trees, shrubs, etc.The Chepara was, so tradition says, originally the whole tribe, but in consequence of internal feuds it became broken up into the clans mentioned. This however seems, notwithstanding the positive assertions of the Chepara informants, to require some corroboration, which cannot now be given. The oldest of the native informants, a man of about fifty years of age in the year 1880, spoke with certainty of this tradition, and said that after a time the clans became again friendly, and had during the whole of his lifetime considered the Chepara the principal clan.
- Native Tribes of Central Australia, pp. 70-73.
- Spencer and Gillen, Native Tribes of Central Australia, pp. 70-73.
- Dr. W. E. Roth.
- "On the Deme and the Horde," Journal Anthrop. Inst. November 1884.
- The following will show the use of ngadi—
Tankubana ugaldra ninki dandru puntilla nganai. Ngadi! To-morrow morning we-two this place from away will. All right! Ngato neyi ngakani nayina warai. Ngadi! I elder-brother mine seen have. Indeed! Nau muntya pirna nganai. Ngadi! He sick very will (is). You don't say so!
Ani or anai is the native termination, and the ng is introduced for euphony. The alternative name Bukatyiri means "wood" or "forest," because in the country of this horde the trees and bushes are much more plentiful than in that of the Kunari.
- Professor Spencer tells me that the Purulu and Kumara always, when they can, pitch their camps on rising ground, and the Panunga and Bulthara on low ground near a creek, if one be present.
- "Notes on Some Tribes of New South Wales, Journal Anthrop. Inst. vol. xiv. p. 344.
- Science, Nos. 11, 12, vol. ii. New Series.
- The Australian Race, vol. iii. p. 568.
- Op. cit. vol. iii. p. 567.
- Warrak, "plain," na, "of," Beäl, "red gum tree," Eucalyptus rostrata.
- Jupa is the so-called "Native Box," also called "Myrtle," the Bursaria spinosa. Galk is "tree" and wourndich, "people."
- Wundaiuk is the equivalent of baluk or balaiuk, which latter I have heard used as well as baluk.
- Doen probably the same as tuan, the small "flying "possum."
- Mernen is "sand-hill," and the baluk mernen are therefore the sand-hill fellows."
- Juro is "plain or level country."
- Science, No. 11, vol. ii. New Series.
- A. L. P. Cameron, op. cit. No. 11, vol. ii. New Series.
- These were the boundaries existing sixty years ago according to Mr. C. Naseby's knowledge.
- C. Naseby.
- A. L. P. Cameron.
- R. Crowthers.
- Frank Bucknall.
- Biga anotha-mara, biga anotha-tina, being " as many as I have fingers and toes." Biga nabu na bogo, "as many as there are leaves on the tree."
- J. Lalor.
- Harry E. Aldridge.
- Jocelyn Brooke.
- W. H. Flowers.
- J. C. Muirhead.
- I have not been able to ascertain which tree this is.
- There appear to be three trees in Queensland which are called by this name—Acacia harpophylla, Acacia doratoxylon, and Acacia glaucescens—but I do not know which it is that grows in the locality in question.
- R. Christison.
- J. H. Kirkham.
- G. F. Bridgeman.
- W. Williams. Yerkla is "the morning star," mining is "man," or "men."
- I must mention that when I first investigated the organisation of this tribe in 1880, my correspondent, the Rev. Julius Kühn, gave me the tribal name as "Turra," in which form it appeared in the joint work of the Rev. Lorimer Fison and myself. Subsequently, Mr. Sutton, the manager of the aboriginal station in Yorke Peninsula, in making further investigation, gave it to me as Adjadura, with the meaning of "belonging to men." In 1899 Mr. F. J. Gillen resided for a time at Moonta, and had opportunities for making further inquiries. I learn from him that the tribal name is Narrang-ga. He gives the translation of Adjadura as "my people." This is no doubt correct, and it may be that Mr. Sutton's informants used the term in that sense in speaking of their fellow tribesmen, but on the other hand the term as given by Mr. Sutton seems to be analogous to the name of the tribe on the opposite side of the Gulf of St. Vincent, namely the Narrinyeri, which means "belonging to men." I shall in future gladly adopt the name supplied for this tribe by Mr. Gillen.
- The Narrinyeri. An account of the tribe of Australian aborigines inhabiting the country around the Lakes Alexandrina, Albert, and Coorong. Adelaide, 1847.
- The Booandik Tribe of South Australian Aborigines by Mrs. James S. Smith. Adelaide Government Printer, 1880.
- Australian Aborigines, James Dawson. Robertson, Melbourne, 1881.
- Rev. J. H. Stähle. The Gournditch-mara recognised neighbouring tribes as friends because they were also "mara"; and on referring to Mr. Dawson's vocabulary I find that "maar" is given for "aboriginal man" in the Peek-whuurong dialect to the south and the Kuurn-kopan-noot to the east of the Gournditch-mara.
- Wurun is "the white gum-tree" (river Gum), Eucalyptus viminalis. Jerri is a grub found in that tree.
- Kurung-jang is "red ground."
- Ngaruk is "stones" or "rocks," "stony" or "rocky."
- Nira is a "cave or a hole in the bank of a creek."
- The native name of this mountain is Juraweit.
- Jakka-jakka was one of those who signed the celebrated Batman deed by "his mark." To my ear, the name should be pronounced as written above.
- Bungerim also attached a mark to the Batman deed and appears as Bungarie.
- Bra is "male" or "man," yak is "west," and lung "of" or "belonging to." Tatung is the sea, sometimes spoken of as gatching; gal is a possessive suffix. Muk is "good," thang is "speech," Krauat is "east."
- Bunjil is a designation applied to men of mature age, and always with a word which expresses some characteristic. For instance, one old man was called Bunjil-barlajan, being Bunjil-platypus, he being a great hunter of that creature. Baul is "island."
- The name may come from Ya-yau, "yes," and thang, "speech" or "tongue."
- An intelligent Theddora woman told me that her tribe extended as far as the upper waters of the Yakonda (Yackandanda), from which place she went as a wife of one of the Omeo Theddora. The term miittung appears to he the equivalent of the baluk of the Kulin.
- Kauwambat means "woman" in the Wolgal speech.
- This name is derived from brida, "scrub," and uelli, "dweller."
- It was only in the year 1870-71 that this man "came in," that is, abandoned his wild life and went to live among the stations of the Manero tableland. He was the last remaining "wild black" in Gippsland.
- This place is now written Buchan, and is supposed to be a Scotch name given by some early settler from North Britain. It should properly be spelled as I have written it, being the native name for the bag in which the Kurnai carries various articles. Bukkan-munji means "bag there" or "the place of the bag."
- The Krauatun name for this mountain is Bur-umpa.
- The Aryan Household, p. 297.
- This clan takes its name from the language spoken by it.
- Manji means "there, at some place," and is therefore the same as the Kurnai word munju, " there at that place."
- English Colony of New South Wales, p. 353. London, 1804.
- The Present State of Australia. London, 1830.
- An Australian Language as Spoken by the Awabakal, by L. E. Threlkeld. Re-arranged, condensed, and edited by John Fraser, B.A. Sydney, 1892.
- The Geawegal Tribe, G. W. Rusden. Appendix G, Kamilaroi and Kurnai, Fison and Howitt. Melbourne, 1880.
- Dr. E. M. M'Kinley.
- J. W. Boydell.
- E. Palmer.