flesh of every part is roasted and eaten, excepting the vitals and the intestines, which are burned with the bones. The aborigines said that the body was eaten, with no desire to gratify or appease the appetite, but only as a symbol of respect and regret for the dead.
The Wurunjerri buried a man's personal property, such as it was, with him. His spear-thrower was stuck in the ground at the head of the grave. At a woman's grave her digging-stick was also placed at the head. It is said that if the deceased was a violent man, who did injury to others, no weapon would be placed with him. When there was no medicine-man there to tell them who had killed him, it was the practice when digging the grave to sweep it clean at the bottom and search for a small hole going downwards. A slender stick put down it showed by its slant the direction in which they had to search for the malefactor. The male kindred of the deceased then went in that direction, until they met some man whom they killed to avenge the dead, and might leave the corpse on a log for his friends to see and take warning by.
In the case of Murrangurk, for whom Buckley was taken by the Wudthaurung tribe, his spear was planted on his grave, and the fact that Buckley had this in his hand when they found him was proof of his identity.
Richard Howitt in 1840 remarked that the Yarra, Goulburn, Barrabool, and Port Phillip blacks buried their dead, while those of Mt. Macedon, the King, Ovens, and Murray Rivers generally burned them. After the flesh was consumed they gathered the bones and put them in a hollow of a tree some height from the ground. The grave was a small mound of earth, circular and gently and nicely rounded at the top, the soil bare and patted smooth. About five feet from the centre of the grave was a slight elevation, and in it at short intervals were driven stakes, five feet high and twenty in number.
Among the Jajaurung, persons of mature life, specially old men and medicine-men, were buried with much ceremony.
- Dawson, op. cit. pp. 63-67.
- Impressions of Australia, 1845.