There is a global mythology of Feathered Serpents throughout ancient tribal nations….and as the last great continent to be invaded, Australia’s original people hold the least corrupted of the ancestral lore….The most eastern extremity of the Australian Continent is the ancestral country of the Ngarakbal Githabal people, who refer to themselves as “Bird Tribes”…Their ancient traditional Lores and Customs are a rich repository of metaphoric lore of creation…..
The Ngarakbal Githabal people are direct descendants of the ancient Carpet-snake clans – “Bird Tribes”, or Feathered Serpent Traditions…..
Their totems and ceremonies bear witness to true and factual evolutionary creation sequences,and their lores and traditions travel through the landscape, climbing four ancient volcano’s, into the bordering ancestral lands of the Wakka Wakka peoples of the Bunya Mountains.
The oldest known Australian marsupial fossils are from a 55 million year old, Early Eocene site at Murgon in southern Queensland, in the Bunya Mountains volcano lands of the Wakka Wakka people. This site has produced a range of marsupial fossils, many with strong South American connections…..and South America also has a rich mythology of Feathered Serpents.
In 1987 the Murgon site also produced an isolated tooth that is thought to from a condylarth, which has been named Tingamarra porterorum…….Condylarths are an ancient group of placental mammals know from various other regions of the world, and the presence of Tingamarra in Australia indicates that placentals were indeed present there at the time when the continent broke away from Antarctica. The world’s oldest fossil bat was also found at the Murgon site…..Very old marsupial fossils have been found on other continents, most notably, North America and Asia.
The Bootheram [Dreaming Lore] of the Ngarakbal Githabal says that “the first bird flew from the Bunya Mountains”……and that Bird was the “Kirra”….the White Cockatoo….There is a coastal beach village on the New South Wales Queensland border, in Ngakakbal Githabal country…and if you follow the ridge from Kirra beach, all the way up the Macpherson Ranges and continue following it up and up, you come to the Bunya Mountains volcano, where all the ancestral totems are being uncovered from the ancient Gondwanan landscape…….right where the ancestral Bootheram Lore has always know them to be.
Here’s a short clip that explain’s a little more of the Feathered Serpent Lore of the Ngarakbal Githabal peoples…..the Bird Tribes of Australia…..enjoy
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The Ngarakbal Githabal people are the direct descendants of , arguably, one of the most ancient cultures on the planet…..Their ancestral estate is the most most eastern point of the Australian continent……
The Ngarakbal Githabal are ancestral Bird Tribes….or Feathered Serpent Lore Traditions…..custodians of an ancient ancient oral lore that comes from the ‘Star-tribes’…
The Rainbow Serpent is one of the most widely featured ancestral beings in the traditional lore and custom of the original Australian peoples. Two types of Rainbow Serpents consistently turn up in the culture; the female Rainbow Serpent, is the mother, the original creator being; and the male Rainbow Serpent, is the transformer of the land…thus, its sacred significance is that of both the phallus and the womb. It is the great father and mother of all forms of life, and it is always associated with water, the source of all life…. an important cultural creator being that is linked to their Landscape, through Lore and Language….
In the masculine form it slithers over the land, his tracks shape the mountains, his body scours out the course of the rivers; where he occasionally stopped for a rest, he created waterfalls, bays and lakes. Piles of rocks are said to be his droppings, and such sites are considered sacred. As he moved, his scales scraped off and become the forests and woodlands of the region…….
In the feminine the Rainbow Serpent can be seen in, and descended from, the band of stars spread across the sky, which form the milky-way galaxy……the everlasting water of space …The sacred waters are the basis of the women’s ‘skin-lore’ kinship relationships…. a personification of fertility, richness in propagation of plants and animals and rain, a narrative that is common throughout Australia…… It is a creator of human beings, having life-giving powers that send conception spirits to all the waterholes……. It is responsible for regenerating rains, and also for storms and floods when it acts as an agent of punishment against those who transgress the law or upset it in any way.
A popular theme in the Rainbow Serpent narratives is that of the many beautiful and exotic daughters of the Rainbow-Serpent. … The spirits of the daughters of the serpent inhabit rivers, lagoons and waterholes and reside in the night sky…. In many accounts they are Siren-women…In sacred ritual, these daughters of the Serpent are concerned with magico-religious practices for women and love ceremonies for both men and women…
On its journey through the land, the Rainbow Serpent meets with the Seven Sisters – who are called the Wiangaree, or Waringeh in Ngarakbal Githabal language…..and gifts them the lore…The totemic kinship ‘skin’ lore that links all life…… The Rainbow Serpent is primarily a symbol of fertility and creation known both as a benevolent protector of its people and as a malevolent punisher of law breakers……
For the Ngarakbal Githabal of the Yoocum Yoocum moiety of the most eastern point of the Australian continent the Rainbow Serpent is known as ‘Warrazum’….and the Lore comes from the ‘Alcheringa’ [Creation time]…….and the Alcheringa is the name of a sacred waterfall located high in the Macpherson Ranges of the New South Wales/Queensland border…in the abode of Warrazum, the Rainbow Serpent.
Here is an extract from an Australian Geographic film by Sorrel Wilby that explains a little more about it in Ngarakbal Githabal country….enjoy
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Ancient Australian creation myths of the Rainbow Serpent can be traced both in art and oral narration, the myths differ slightly from one region to another. However, all the stories share a common thread; the fundamental role of water in nature’s cycle of growth and regeneration. Fertility, drought and flood are all aspects of nature that resonate with the human condition, and all are inextricably linked to that precious commodity.
The mythology of the Rainbow Serpent plays an important part in the harmonious coming together of different Aboriginal clans. All of the elements of cultural life played a role in helping to maintain peaceful coexistence between clans, and respect for both the natural environment and mankind, with its complex history and customs.
The story of the Rainbow Serpent, with its emphasis on the preciousness of water to the cycle of life, is very relevant in today’s climate. With rapid climate change impelling us to look closely at the way we relate to each other and to the environment, both now and into the future, this ancient myth is a reminder of our inheritance, our purpose and perhaps even our duty.
The Rainbow Serpent is a video clip from the documentary series and website First Australians produced in 2008 by Blackfella Films for SBS Television. First Australians chronicles the birth of contemporary Australia as never told before, from the perspective of its first people. First Australians explores what unfolds when the oldest living culture in the world is overrun by the world’s greatest empire……enjoy this small extract.
Cooooeeeee……Video and Audio formatting of Ngarakbal Githabal ancestral Lore is something I will be using extensively in the near future……after all its ORAL Lore…..so, if you would like to receive my posts automatically then subscribe to my newsletter [its free] and they will be automatically sent to your email……………Hoo Roo
The Ngarakbal Githabal peoples are part of the once vast ‘Yoocum Yoocum’ Moiety….. These ancient peoples are the East Coast ‘Custodians’ of the Feathered Serpent Traditions [or, Bird Tribe Lore] which is intrinsically linked to The Seven Sister ‘Skin’ Lore of the Rainbow Serpent…..the most ancient religion on the planet
The Yoocum Yoocum are the large ‘Cultural Block’ of one of the most densely populated regions of the Australian Continent before invasion by the Crown… and, despite the aggressive invasion of the East Coast, the ancestral lore survived….it’s a wonderful thing that it did, for these people hold ancient lore that is the last piece of the puzzle to unifying many of the ancient global mysteries.
The Ngarakbal Githabal peoples are descendants of the “Carpet-snake clans” of Australia…..Their Carpet-snake [water-snake] Lore traditions and culture come from the ‘Alcheringa’ – the distant ancient ‘Dreamtime’ past….These traditions once traversed the island continent….the origin of the Rainbow Serpent Lore
The Rainbow Serpent is a most important Ancestral Being within the Yoocum Yoocum and associated aligned moieties across Australia…It governs every facet of their ‘Skin’ Marriage Lore’s of Creation and Fertility – the spiral of Birth, Death and Rebirth….Their Central Spirituality governing the ‘Cycles of all Life’…The Rainbow Serpent is intrinsically interwoven with the ‘Skin’ Marriage Lore of the Seven Sisters – Arguably the oldest Religion on the Planet…
…’…Our Rainbow Serpent Dreaming is the oldest continuous documented religious theme in the world…over 60,000 years of Women’s Lore…’…..Lorraine Mafi Williams- Widgabal – Bundjalung proper
The Lore’s begin with landscape creator journeys from the coast of the Wollumbin Caldera – the most easterly point of the ancient Australian continent – and the Lores come from the ‘Alcheringa’….This word – ‘Alcheringa’, and the Rainbow Serpent Lore, and the Seven Sisters, feature in the regional dialects of other ancestral estates across the continent….but, these traditions are not in every Aboriginal culture….Some have been replaced due to ancient invasions and wars of the distant past – They have different beliefs – creators, ancestors and cultural values – the same as different religions have spread around the planet throughout time….
The Alcheringa [Lore] once travelled right across Australia…It has been recorded as part of ‘skin’ marriage lore in several ancestral regions, including the eastern cultural blocks of the Wakka Wakka, the Gubbi Gubbi, the central New South Wales Komilaroi, and also the Urabunna and Arunta peoples in the red centre of the continent…There are also regions of the west coast moieties in the Pilbara – but the Alcheringa is certainly not limited to just these…as with all ancestral Lore, within each specific ancestral estate and with each ones specific language, the sacred sites to commemorate the ancestors creation journey are maintained and utilised by the ‘custodial’ clans…joining the creation ‘songs’ together, much like pearls on a necklace, makes the ‘songline’….and many of these ‘songlines’ are governed by celestial bodies – the transits of stars.
The east coast in Ngarakbal Githabal country is the beginning of the Alcheringa – marked by a ‘djurebil’ [sacred site] that is located high in the rainforest mountains, in the aquifer watershed of the two east coast volcano’s…This djurebil [sacred site] was created by the Carpet Snake Clan ancestors….the Carpet-snake clans are the oldest clan on the continent…the ancient ones….
The Alcheringa creation ‘songline’ travels from ancient geological sites now submerged beneath the waves of the eastern Pacific Ocean – from the distant past when the sea water was locked in ice and the land extended out much farther than it does today ….but the djurebil remains…and weaves to the west – as serpents do…it is the pathway of the Rainbow Serpent ancestor, making the water paths within the geological features as it travels….
Rainforest ridges, Mountains in their own right, once named ‘little’ and ‘big’ Buggram [Bootheram] are divided by a deep gorge that the Rainbow Serpent gouged on its journey…after creating Little and Big Bootheram it travels up – higher than Wollumbin [Mount Warning] – higher than Julgumboong [Mount Lindsay]…it creates a great Plateau “Dhungura-ngarian”, which the white man named Lamington Plateau and traveling on to Mount Worendo, where it creates a series of waterfall cascades that plunge down through the rainforest…it is there, high in the remote rugged Macpherson Ranges, of the Caldera’s rim that the highest waterfall is created…and it’s djuriebil name is ‘Alcheringa’….and it is the name of that waterfall still….
The Ancestral totemic ‘beings’ not only created the geological features and aquifer systems of the continent, but also carried and distributed objects which were the sources of ritual and tribal Lore as well as the sources of all forms of life, including the people themselves….
In the Bootheram of the ‘Alcheringa’ there exists a comparatively small number of individuals who were half human and half animal or half plant…The Ngarakbal Githabal say that these ancestors didn’t ‘come here’ but that they were ‘made here’…that they are the original Carpet-snake Clan’s…The Bootheram records them as being created by ‘God’- Babbarra is one Ngarakbal Githabal word for describing God …Duramulan is another…….
Bootheram teaches that these half-human creatures were endowed with far greater powers than any living men or women now possess. They could walk about either on the earth or beneath it and could fly through the air….They were the children of ‘God’ and had inherited a portion of the qualities of their creator…they were themselves as ‘demi-gods’…and these ‘demi-gods’ are the ancestors of the existing totemic clans ….’Family’…Ancestors… Nimbinje as the Ngarakbal Githabal call them – or the “Hairy fellas”…the original clans – Carpet-snake totemic clans – they went all over the country, creating the djurebil…making them with sacred ceremonies, songs and dances for the people to enact throughout time….
The creation ancestors, in the act of ‘creating’, would leave deposits in the ground or in some natural feature such as a rock or a water pool, which transformed the site into a djurebil…and, high on the escarpment between the two volcano lands is one such carn of boulders, which was ‘made’ by the Rainbow Serpent…and, it is in this same area that the ‘Eelemarni Marriage Lore’ is deified…joining Ngarakbal to Githabal……All Bootheram Lores link together
So, what is Bootheram?
Bootheram is the Ngarakbal Githabal dialect name for the Dreamtime LORE…or LAW of all creation…Its Spiritual, complex and parallels numerous scientific disciplines
Northern hemisphere peoples (recently) developed numerical & alphabetical values to explain time and creation of this galaxy, this solar system and this planet…Bootheram explains the same thing…
Bootheram uses plants and animals and creation Heroes and Heroines metaphorically to denote each timeframe, for each creation sequence [epoch] and ‘holds’ it orally…through ceremonial songs, dances and sacred ritual at djurebil sites
Bootheram uses the landscape and the sky as the reference points of this creation lore….a living library…written into the land and mirrored in the sky, for all to see….indelible native science held in oral format…..And it is the Lore that Bootheram must NEVER be changed…
The sum total of the Bootheram of the Ngarakbal Githabal Feathered Serpent Traditions tells the complete history of the creation of the ‘universe’ beginning with 8 culture hero’s….It is obviously metaphoric and [naturally] linked to Bird Tribe Lore…..so, let’s look at one of the metaphoric Ancestral Creator Birds…..
Bootheram has many layers of meaning…and one such layer depicts (dreaming) timeframes…Oral lore for chronological markers of ‘Bird Tribe’ Mythology events….or, Totem as a Timeline……For example….One of the Landscape creation ancestors is the Turkey – ‘Woggun’ means Bush Turkey in Ngarakbal Githabal …and Woggun the Creation Ancestor Turkeys name is ‘Wollumbin’….
So…..In 1977 as part of the National Parks and Wildlife Aboriginal Site Survey of NSW, Ngarakbal Githabal ‘custodial knowledge holder’ Mrs Millie Boyd recorded the significance of Mt Warning with Howard Creamer, Anthropologist …Mrs Boyd had learnt this Feathered Serpent Lore from her Mother Charlotte Williams [nee Brown] …..Aunty Millie related the Bootheram [unchanged] of the Totemic Ancestral Birds gathering to ‘learn the lingo’ [Language]…..Then all flying from Mount Brown [which is located in the Richmond Range of Northern NSW]……….All the Birds fly from Mount Brown to claim, settle and name the ancestral tribal Totem sites in the ancient Yoocum Yoocum Landscape…….
“Turkey Flew to Mount Warning…’….Mrs Millie Boyd
Ok…so what’s the Metaphor of Feathered Serpents?
“….The birds are the Feathered Serpents, the descendants of the Goanna beings; and we are the descendants of the Bird Tribes who also come from this Bootheram… The Birds gave us our lore, land and language…. We are the Bird Tribes….”…..….Marlene Boyd – Ngarakbal Githabal – grand-daughter of Charlotte Williams…
When the Bootheram was being recorded western science hadn’t discovered that birds evolved out of dinosaurs….this has only come to light in the last decade….But the Ngarakbal Githabal descendants knew….they have always know…they ARE the Bird Tribe…..
Here is one of their Bootheram Lore’s from the Lamington Plateau of the Macpherson Ranges, which the Ngarakbal Githabal call “Dhungura-ngarian”…it was broadcast on radio in 1968 and published the same year….the ‘custodian’ relating this Bootheram was Mr James Morgan – who was another 1967 civil rights campaign “Hero of the people”….Like all the Bootheram, it sounds like a nice little story about animals…but it has profound layers….There are djurebil sites all around the ranges that were created by the ancestral Carpet -snake Clans to mark this important Bootheram…for this is the story of the first Corroboree ring….the very first one…it is a sacred story, and it must NEVER be changed
……..”In the time which is Bootharrum or the dreamtime there lived a pelican who played on a plateau.
The name of the plateau was Dhungura-ngarian, which means “where the Pelican Played”. The corroboree ring of the pelican was on the plateau of Dhungura-ngarian……”……
…”In the Bootharrum all the birds were the same colour but one day they decided that it would be much better if they were not all the same, so they painted themselves in different colours. From that time they have kept the colours they painted themselves on the plateau of Dhugura-ngarian…”..
“…The Crow painted himself black….The paint that he used was made from burnt bark of the Bloodwood tree”….
….”The parrots adorned themselves with bright paints of many colours. And all the birds chose the colours they liked best. Then the birds gathered together for a corroboree on the plateau of Dhungura-ngarian….”….
….”One day, Old Man Pelican, who was very fat, was walking away from the corroboree ring when he heard someone laughing.
“He turned around to see who was laughing and saw that it was the crow…”…
“…The crow was laughing at him, laughing at the way he walked because he was so fat….”…
….”Because the crow had laughed at him Old Man Pelican picked up a piece of the dullong and threw it at the Crow…..”…..
….”The piece of clay hit the Crow in the eye and to this day the white in the eye of the crow can be seen where Old Man Pelican hit him……”
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The Ngarakbal Githabal are the ancestral aboriginal people of the most easterly land on the Australian continent….a landscape protected by their ancestral spirits…one such spirit is ‘Ineroogun’ – the Black Dog of Fingal Heads….
The ‘accepted history’ books tell us that the Tweed / Gold Coast environs were established by the colonialists in the mid 1840’s…. this is a sanitised pro-crown ‘His’-storical view…..
The first Cedar getters [wood cutters] were claimed to have arrived by boat in 1844…commencing the indiscriminate ‘clear fell’ denuding of the Gondwana Super Forest from the Brunswick River, just North of Byron Bay and throughout the Tweed Caldera…However the oral traditions of the Ngarakbal Githabal indigenous Aboriginal people tell of this lands invasion beginning well before the 1830’s…The first white skinned invaders they say also arrived by sail boat…. but contrary to the contemporary history presented by government, the traditional Aboriginal people – the Ngarakbal Githabal- tell of a prior arrival of the Spanish in the 1500’s coming to Byron Bay and Fingal Heads…All pre-crown arrival has been eradicated from the authorised historical records… a prior arrival in Australia would nullify the Crowns claim of Terra Nullus as unoccupied lands….and this is not a popular political option…
Anyway, over one hundred years after the Portuguese-Spanish arrived, the first Dutchman to get to Australia was Willem Janszoon aka Jansz in 1606…… Not much is known about his early years, other than he was born in 1570, but what we do know is that he served the Dutch East India Company (VOC), which was a chartered company established in 1602 to carry out colonial activities in Asia……. In 1603, he became captain of the Duyfken, which means ‘Little Dove’, and it was aboard this ship that he first sighted Australia while searching for outlets of trade near New Guinea…… Once he crossed the Arafura Sea, he travelled west and landed on the western coast of Cape York just near Weipa…possibly, following charts that had been captured from the Spanish
Jansz started to chart the area, thinking that the land was still New Guinea, but after finding nothing but swampy land and violent encounters with Aborigines, he decided to throw in the towel and return to Indonesia…..He called ‘his’ new found land ‘Nieu Zeland’, but the name didn’t stick and was used by Abel Tasman about 40 years later for New Zealand…which is located off the eastern coast of Australia.mmmmm……..Now, Aboriginal Elders are insistent that two Spanish landings took place in the ancestral coastal lands of the Ngarakbal Githabal people, on the east coast of Australia…One at Byron Bay and another at Fingal Heads…..Both are purported to be Spanish Shipwrecks which occurred at Suffolk Park south of Byron Bay, and on Cook Island, situated just off Fingal Headland
Fingal Headland is a beautiful place…its known as “Mynjung Booning”……… “Mynjung”, which is the Ngarakbal Githabal word for ‘place of’; and “Booning”, which means Echidna …Place of the Echidna…… Fingal’s precise location is Latitude -28.199042, Longitude 153.571315
Separating the Tweed River from the Pacific Ocean, Fingal is a narrow peninsula several kilometres long. It ends at the mouth of the Tweed river and on the opposite bank lies Queensland. . The peninsula north of Fingal village is known as Letitia Spit, a sand spit that has been slowly accreting due mainly to the construction of the river’s southern training wall – from rock quarried from Fingal
Aboriginal associations stretch well back into the dreamtime with anthropologists claiming that the area supported one of the densest nomadic populations to occur anywhere in the world. Skeletal remains of people estimated to have been around seven feet tall have been found on the Peninsula….
In contemporary times Fingal has been referenced as “Pooning”…most notably in the crowns geospatial lands records for LAW, Land and Language are linked…..and the ancestral people understand that for its the same in traditional Lore – Lore, Land and Language are linked – but, the crown chooses to only recognise the name ”P[b]ooning” for Fingal….[the ‘P’ and ‘B’ sounds blurr together when enunciated…]…..
”P[b]ooning” is the Ngarakbal Githabal name for the Echidna, or Australian porcupine…and the word P[b]ooning is attributed to Fingal Headland because of the rock formations that occur on the headland…. Spectacular basalt columns that resemble the spines of an echidna, and, the ancestral Ngarakbal Githabal people believe that the spirit of the echidna inhabits these headlands…Burleigh Heads located to the north also has similar formations and is also traditionally referred to as being a “Mynjung” [Place of] “P[b]ooning” to the Ngarakbal Githabal…and several other sites that this rock formation occurs in are too.
Anyway……There used to be a large cave at Fingal, but it was blown up to form the break-walls of the Tweed River ….. For the Ngarakbal Githabal the cave site is the ‘dreaming home’ of a protective [supernatural] hairy man said to abide in that cave on Fingal Head and also a giant black dog whose story is linked to the creation of the McPherson Range…but the crown chooses NOT to recognise these ancestral Lores or that the Ngarakbal Githabal totemic ancestral name for Fingal is ‘Inneroogun’ – the Black Dog…..said to now roam the area, homeless….since the Cave was destroyed
The columnar basalt lava flow at Fingal Headland extends underwater to Cook Island (named after Lieutenant James Cook who explored the east coast of Australia in 1770)…… The lava is thought to have come from the prehistoric Tweed Volcano and is known as “Lismore Basalt”; predominantly tholeiitic with occasional alkaline types…….. This unit is stratigraphically equivalent to the Beechmount Basalt in Queensland – west of the Lamington Plateau….which is also refered to by the Ngarakbal Githabal as being a “Mynjung” [Place of] “P[b]ooning”……
Now,…I need to include all this historical and geological stuff in order to explain how the Ngarakbal Githabal Bootheram Lore, Land and Language are linked, to geospatial lands records….and thus, land tenure.
The jointing, clearly evident at Fingal Head is caused by contraction: as lava cools from the outside toward the centre, shrinkage cracks develop, usually forming hexagonal patterns (the shape of the columns is attributed to tensional stress). These columns are vertical because the lava cools from top to bottom when the flow of lava is horizontal
Just before the turn of the century, the Department of Public Works blasted and quarried the massive basalt caves of Fingal Head….and in the process they desecrated the ‘djuribil’ [sacred site] of the Ngarakbal Githabal……. During the1950’s and 60’s sand miners cleared and destroyed not only most of the littoral rainforest which blanketed Letitia Spit but also numerous burial sites, including at least one of the former massacre sites.
All of this destruction occurred during the crown occupation process when the ancestral peoples were being systematically relocated to policed reserves…moving them further and further from their ancestral lands….and due to their legal status as being Flora and Fauna up until the success of the Civil Rights ratification in1967, the blood-line to country descendants of the ancestral people of Fingal have remained dispossessed….however, their Bootheram [Dreaming] Lore survived and was even used to save the Fingal area from massive development…which I’m getting too…
Fingal has historically been coveted as a beachside development site since early occupation but has always managed to remain protected…This protection was largely because of the Ngarakbal Githabal Aboriginal recording the totemic significance of the area and having their language embedded into the geospatial lands records by the crowns first Surveyor’s under order of the old Queen, Victoria.. …Lore Land and Language are linked, so the surveyors used Ngarakbal Githabal language on the original maps…..but, since the advent of Native Title in Australia, the crown is none too happy that the ancestral dialects of the ancestral people are on the geospatial records [the maps]…seemingly because the language attribution [of Ngarakbal Githabal] is the evidentiary material required to claim Native Title ….so, it’s much simpler for them to reclassify it to Bundjalung…change the language classification changes the tenure….it’s an old formula applied globally….
Anyway…back to Fingal…..Throughout the seventies the residential community of Fingal continued to make land claims over Letitia Spit despite the fact that they had no legislative basis on which to rely….. None of these claims were successful [ the residential community not being of the ancestral bloodline of Ngarakbal Githabal country]…Then, after the introduction of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act in 1983, the residential community linked together with other local groups to form the Tweed Byron Local Aboriginal Land Council and immediately lodged new claims over the Spit as well as other pieces of Crown land at Fingal……as a government entity the Aboriginal Lands Council were able to circumvent the non-bloodline prerequisite – write new laws that enabled development …So, In 1986, the Aboriginal lands Council and the Department of Lands negotiated ‘a deal’ in respect of the Spit……The residential community agreed to withdraw all but a small portion of their original claim in return for the Department instituting a Plan of Management over the remainder, aimed at ensuring the land’s protection for future public use….To their credit, the Local Aboriginal Land Council went to some expense in preparing its submission on the Plan of Management…… However, once the claim was withdrawn the Department refused to proceed, and instead commenced researching potential development options…..Of note is that over the subsequent decades several fresh land claims have been made, and like the initial claims, none of which have included the Ngarakbal Githabal…and; subsequently, none of the claims were successful…..since then, the geospatial records linguistic attributions have seemingly been stealthily and steadily changed to Bundjalung….
Developers, Ocean Blue Club Resorts Pty. Ltd., posed the first big threat to Fingal They negotiated ‘a deal’ with ‘the department’….planned to build an international hotel on an important dreaming site and remnant littoral rainforest, a luxury marina on a protected wetland area, and a 400 townhouse /condominium complex in place of the existing village. Both the hotel and marina site were Crown Land and zoned as either public open space or for environmental protection….. At the same time, the Public Works Department commenced a feasibility study into the possibility of cutting a new entrance to the Tweed River through Letitia Spit to make a “Super Harbour”…. If approved, the Department intended to pay for the construction work by selling the remainder of the Spit to private developers…… One firm, Adco Constructions Pty Ltd expressed interest in acquiring the land and put forward proposals for around one billion dollars’ worth of tourist and residential developments….. Such intensive development was considered necessary to absorb the sixty million dollar cost of river works.
In order to prevent development of their ancestral djurebil [sacred site] the Aboriginal Lands Council contacted the Ngarakbal Githabal knowledge holders for help…they needed the ancestral Bootheram Lore to save Fingal…..
Now;….The first pro-aboriginal recordings of the Aboriginal significance of the area were made in 1950’s by Mildred Norledge from Kyogle – endorsed by Professor Elkin…She recorded the Ngarakbal Githabal Bootheram from Elders such as Mr James Morgan; Dyraaba Tribe – west of Lamington Plateau…and Mr. Joe Coolhum; Mebbini Tribe – Tweed Heads…These two gentlemen had spoken about their ancestral custodial Lore as their intrinsic contribution to the Civil Rights Campaigns to free their people from the crowns ‘non-human’ status…..They are two more of the Ngarakbal Githabal ancestor Heroes who showed the crown, through their Bootheram, that they did indeed have their own cultural ‘religion, and did not deserve to be legally classified as Flora and Fauna…
The next wave of recordings commenced in the late 1970’s by Anthropologist Howard Creamer for the National Parks and Wildlife Service Aboriginal Site Survey Team…Howard was instructed to identify ancestral knowledge holders within the community…one of the Cultural Elders whom he interviewed was Mrs Milli Boyd of Woodenbong, who was the daughter of Mrs Charlotte Williams [nee Brown] as part of the governments Aboriginal Site Survey Team of National Parks and Wildlife Services…….This information was then used to obtain further interviews of Mrs Milli Boyd [nee Williams]….principally Dr. Margaret Gummow [building upon the work of Anthropologist, Howard Creamer and Linguist, Margaret Sharpe]….This cultural evidence was then used by the Tweed Byron Aboriginal Lands Council to launch legal action, and a subsequent corruption investigation, in regards development at Fingal Heads…
And these are the cases in which the Ngarakbal Githabal ancestral cultural information was used….Tweed Byron Local Aboriginal Land Council v The Minister Administering the Crown Lands (Consolidation) Act and the Western Lands Act & Ors  NSWLEC 67 (19 June 1990)…and TWEED BYRON LOCAL ABORIGINAL LAND COUNCIL v. THE MINISTER ADMINISTERING THE CROWN LANDS ACT  NSWLEC 220 (14 December 1995)…… “By Notice of Motion filed in Court on 23 October 1995, the Tweed Shire Council seeks to be joined in pending Class 3 proceedings involving a number of land claims made by the Applicant pursuant to the Aboriginal Lands Rights Act 1983 (the Act) at various times between 4 January 1988 and 27 March 1992, in respect of various parcels of land having an aggregated area of some 300 hectares situate on the coast line at Fingal in the Shire of Tweed near the New South Wales-Queensland border”…..
……“The Independent Commission against Corruption [ICAC] has yet to release its report and has so far made no findings, but the evidence presented to it has graced the front pages of the metropolitan newspapers for months. Evidence before ICAC revealed that Ocean Blue had paid large secret donations to both the Labor and National parties at times when, as the respective Governments of the day, they were considering Ocean Blue’s application for Crown land at Fingal. The Administrator of the Tweed Byron Local Aboriginal Land Council alleged that an officer of Ocean Blue had attempted to bribe him into furthering the company’s interests. Lawyers from the Department of Lands claimed that they were misled in leasing the quarry site to the wrong company and both Wal Murray and Ian Causley declared that, had they known what they do now about Ocean Blue, they would have refused to deal with them. Whether or not the Ministers were in fact aware of the donation is an issue on which the ICAC has still to make a finding”….Andrew Chalk
And it was the Ngarakbal Githabal ancestral cultural information which won the case…..and Lore was recorded in LAW….
…..“To my knowledge, there are four recordings of this [Mt Warning] song in existence, all performed by Boyd. The first was recorded by Howard Creamer of the NPWS as part of a project concerning aboriginal site protection. I recorded the second performance in 1985 in relation to my PhD research on Bundjalung and Gidabal songs [Gummow 1992]. The Linguist Margaret Sharpe recorded the third performance in 1989 in connection with a project funded by Aboriginal Legal Aid concerning the environmental impact of land and land rights at Fingal Head. The Fourth was recorded on video in the early 1980’s by Lorraine Mafi Williams. In an attempt to preserve traditional material, Mafi-Williams produced the film Eelarmarni [sic] in 1988, which featured Boyd explaining some of the mythology and singing several songs from the area.”…[Gummow;1985;7A Barwick-Marett-Tuntill 1995:121-131; Tweed Byron Aboriginal lands Council v Tweed Shire Council v the Minister for Crown Lands; and the ICAC INVESTIGATION into North Coast Land Development ]
The following information is based on recordings made in 1989 by Sharpe, speaking with Mrs Milli Boyd [nee Williams] who had learnt the Ngarakbal Githabal Bootheram Lore’s from her Elders… It comprises part of the mythology of the area [Sharpe 1989].
Mount Warning is the shape of a Turkey’s head, and according to Aboriginal people in the area a spirit being called Wollumbin, a wild turkey, lives inside the mountain. Wollumbin owned two dogs, one male and one female, which are associated with Mount Warning and Fingal Head…..One day the dogs were chasing a kangaroo along a ridge. They chased him from Fingal Heads over to Boonah near Beaudesert in Queensland. They eventually came to water and the dogs drank than lay on the bank. Two young girls from a nearby camp came to get water, saw the dogs, and went back to the camp to bring more people down to the river. After spearing the two dogs, they put them on a pole and began cooking them over a fire…….Wollumbin had followed the dogs and knew they had been killed. He flew down onto the flat where the dogs were being cooked and caused a wild storm. The people left to find shelter from the storm. Wollumbin took the dogs off the fire, wrapped them in bark and carried them back to Mount Warning. As he flew across the country, parts of the dogs’ bodies dropped onto the ground below and formed part of the landscape. He went back to Mt Warning and placed the dog’s bones in the water. One dog was placed in the Tweed River near Mt Warning and the other was placed at Fingal Head. It is believed that their spirits protect the Ngarakbal Githabal people in this area from strangers…..Today, at the Tweed River, Ngarakbal Githabal people can hear the dogs bones creaking….
The two Ngarakbal Githabal gentlemen, Mr. Joe Coolham; Mebbini Tribe – Tweed Heads and Mr James Moran; Dyraaba Tribe, told their ancestral Bootheram Lore respectively……. of the Two Dogs, Burrajahee and Ineroogun…. and DHUNGURA NGARIAN which in Ngarakbal Githabal is the name of the Pelican Dancing Ground…. Bootheram Lore must never been changed…it cannot be transferred or claimed by another….for it tells the Lore of their ancestral estate, and within it, embodies traditional morals and values for the people to follow…
The first Lore is “DON’T BE GREEDY”…the story of Burrajahee and Ineroogun teaches that Lore….. To claim or steal a Lore opens it up to corruption and contamination…and, unsurprisingly, that is exactly what unfolded………..
……”As always there is a good deal more to the story. The best parts – the intrigue and maneuvering, the anguish and joy, and above all the people – are most wisely kept for late nights around a fire on Dreamtime Beach, where, well out of earshot of the defamation lawyers, a group will be sitting waiting for the snapper to bite. They will be remembering and they will be laughing, because in 1989 they all did something which they didn’t really think was possible….”…..Andrew Chalk – in regards to the Aboriginal Lands Council court case….
To this date the Ngarakbal Githabal descendants have never been recognized or included in the governance of their ancestral estate by the crown systems….Their culture continues to be appropriated and twisted by those who do not understand the Bootheram and its teachings…the ignorance of the current system thrives on greed, but, the ancestral ‘djurebil’ protection of the Black Dog is indelible, and it’s been written into LAW….
If you would like to read Joe Calhum’s Bootheram of the Two Dogs – you will find it on my website at this address….and if you would like to receive more of these blogs then subscribe to my newsletter [its free] and you will automatically receive them in your email…..Hoo Roo
Time itself is like a spiral…..For the Ngarakbal Githabal people of eastern Australia, Spirals have an important meaning in their Dreaming Lore , which they call Bootheram – It comes from their ancestors; the Carpet-snake clans of the Feathered Serpent Traditions….and, their ancestral land itself is a gigantic geological spiral formation…an erosion caldera…
The Tweed caldera’s southerly point commences at Byron Bay and then arcs in a sweeping series of mountain ranges to its northern point, Currumbin, on the Gold Coast ….The Caldera has a series of inner rings, which spiral in to the central peak of Wollumbin…. The Ngarakbal Githabal are the ancestral tribal peoples of this area….They have many Bootheram’s [Dreaming Lore] of their beautiful landscape and its history….In Aboriginal culture, Lore, Land and Language are connected….and the Bootheram must NEVER be changed…that is the LAW – Lore..
Bogangar, or Cabarita Beach is a coastal village of the Tweed Coast….The most prominent geological feature at Bogangar is its rugged Headland which has the geographical name of Norries Headland…Bogangar is the halfway point between Currumbin [on the southern Gold Coast] and Byron Bay, the most easterly point of the Australian mainland…..
The Ngarakbal Githabal ancestral name for Byron Bay is “Coorumbah”, and the northern point is Currumbin……Coorumbah – Currumbin… [Positive – Negative] …the village of Bogangar is halfway between them….
Bogangar has the largest coastal Lake in the Northern Rivers area….Cudgen Lake….fed from sea at Cudgen Headland, Kingscliff, 7km to the north along the beach….and Cudgen is Ngarakbal for ‘red ochre’ which occurs on the coastal ridges at Duranbah behind Kingscliff village
Now, Bogangar was the name of a little “hairy man”….a ‘Nimbinje’…These ancestral beings are prominent throughout the Bootheram Lore – they are from the Carpet-snake clans – from the Feathered Serpent Traditions of ancient Australia…Alcheringa…..In the distant past the ancestral people were Hairy…Now, this is by no means unusual, because ice-ages affect evolutionary changes and being Hairy in an ice-age is a very good thing… and the name of the ancestral tribe [family] at Bogangar were the “Bogangaree”……for Lore, Language and Land are linked, always…..
The Ngarakbal Githabal did not come to this land, they were always here…the Carpet-snake Clans were made here by the ancestors…In Lore the landscape and the sky are the storyboard or living library of all events….written into the landscape in ancestral language, in plain view for all to see, for all time….
As custodians of the land the Ngarakbal Githabal Bootheram ‘sings’ the story of their [specific] ancestral estate….Traditional Lore and Custom is that no-one else can sing in their lands….that is ancestral Lore for every ancestral ‘country’ all over the Australian continent – and for a very good reason…….It ensures that the Lore [of each specific ancestral estate] remains intact, unpolluted, uncorrupted and unchanged….each ancestral estate holds their specific portion of the song of their own land in their own language…and these ‘songs’ hold the survival knowledge of specific places throughout time…
In traditional Lore and Culture, someone from some other area can-not come into the ancestral estate of another tribal territory and ‘sing’ their story…Culturally if this happens the perpetrator is referred to as being “out of country”….It is perceived as very disrespectful – breaking Lore….for to sing “out of country” in a language foreign to the ancestral ‘djurebil’ [sacred site] potentially corrupts or contaminates the harmonic Lore of the Land…and this potential corruption threatens the survival of all.
“…At Norries Headland, on the sand dunes that connect the rocky headland to the mainland is an exposed midden consisting largely of “cart-rut” shells [Dicathais orbita]. A few kilometres north of Norries Head there was a stone arrangement on sandy ground in the rainforest, the stones being arranged in a spiral pattern about three metres in diameter. This report of the stone arrangement came from a man who worked on a sand-mining dredge, who collected the stones before the dredge moved over the site. Inland from Kingscliff is a ridge of red soil on which the village of Cudgen stands, the word Cudgen meaning red. According to report in 1900 “there is a hill at this place where the blacks get the red raddle or pigment to paint themselves when going fighting” …Steele – Aboriginal Pathways- page 48
Another, or perhaps the same, spiral of stones was reported to also have been found at Tyagarah just north of Byron Bay…as the story goes, these too, were found by a sand miner in 1965 and taken back to his home in Kingscliff…He then gave them to the Tweed Historical Society who networked with the Brunswick Progress Association and the stones were finally placed at the Brunswick Valley Heritage Park in 1989.
The convener of the Brunswick Valley Heritage Park was visited by Elders who told him the story of the spiral stones…This small extract was published in the Echo Newspaper in 1990……“In the dreamtime the north coast was populated by an ancestral people who owned the land….The Yowies…legendary mountain people in the style of the Yeti or Bigfoot came down from the mountains and drove the people off their land and dispersed them far and wide…..A male and female member of the people gathered them together again and then drove out the Yowies, regained their land and the sacred red ochre at a sacred site…. The stones are the spirals of the two people”……
You see, this all comes spiralling back to the Ngarakbal Githabal ‘Eelamarni’ Marriage Lore – from the Carpet-snake clans of the Feathered Serpent Traditions of Australia….which pre-dates the Three Brothers Lore thousands and thousands of years….The Three Brothers is the Bootheram of migrations into Ngarakbal Githabal lands that occurred after the last glacial maximum, when the ice melted and the sea levels rose…about 12,000 years ago – The Three Brothers migrated to the east coast of Australia with their families….landing at Yamba on the Clarence River….Now, the Ngarakbal Githabal were already here….and they call the Three Brothers “Paigal”, which loosely translated means human …The “Paigal” were cannibals….and there was a war at Nimbin Rocks …., you’ll find information about that in my past posts….But, the ancestral Carpet-snake Clans, well, they go way back…way, way, way, back…..and, explaining that, well, that’s for another post
Anyway…. Here is another of the Ngarakbal Githabal Heroes…Mr Tom Close, relating the Eelamarni…from the ancestral Feathered Serpent Skin Lore.….Mr Close told this Bootheram in the 1950’s as part of the Civil Rights campaigns to recognise Aboriginal Peoples Human Rights…. Mr Tom Close was the half-brother of Charlotte Williams [nee Brown]…..’Beereen’ is the ancestral Ngarakbal name of Kingscliff, Cudgen Heads…
…”….In the Dreamtime there lived a young girl who was very beautiful. Her people were the Beereen tribe. At the time when this girl lived upon the earth there was a great war, for the Githerbul people were fighting against the Beereen people.
While the tribesmen were fighting the girl saw a handsome young Githerbul man who was a valiant warrior and tall in stature. She knew in her heart that she loved him, even though she had never seen him before. She longed that she might come to know him.
When the fighting between the Githerbul people and the Beereen people ended, a corroboree was held. When it was over the handsome young man returned to his uncle, for he lived with him in a mountain called Meeyanin.
The young girl of the Beereen tribe saw the footprints of the young man and knew by their appearance that he had gone from her sight.
Her heart bade her set forth to seek the man she loved
Wherever the young man’s footprints led, there she walked. She had with her some bark of the boorlum or ti-tree, and on this bark she rested at night. Wherever the young girl lay down a ti-tree grew and to this day these trees can still be seen…’…..Tom Close – Ngarakbal Githabal
Here is Charlotte Williams version of the same Lore…also recorded in the 1950’s
DAWNTIME…when all creation was created – there were also people of the Spirit World made. Now the name of the Good Spirit people is Wooyun. They are a kind of fairy people. You may behold these people for they look like ordinary mortals, but they are only seen for a little while…..
It happened that one day the fairy people were traveling down to Coogen Heads and with them was a lovely young fairy girl. Now this girl had been promised in marriage to a young man brave as he was handsome, for he was in charge of a Bora Ring – the sacred Ring – to where all young men must go for the initiation Ceremony so that they may be proclaimed men of their tribe. For a man to be placed in charge of a Bora Ring he must indeed be a good man, so all the people of the tribe many know that he is worthy to be placed in charge of the SACRED BORA Ring.
When the time had come that the young fairy woman had reached womanhood she thought of the man, the young man to whom she had been given in marriage when a child. The dawn had kissed many days and the stars had kissed many nights since she had seen him last. Then one day she saw him in at Coogen Heads – she knew he was the man to whom she was promised in marriage – for her heart told her so.
When the battle had been fought at Coogen Heads, the young man went to his home at Meeahan, which is the name by which Crown Mountain was known to the tribe of the young man. So the fairy woman set forth to seek her lover – she came to Meehaan, and the people of there told her “yes! the young man whom you seek and who will be your husband came home but is gone again”..So she set forth on her journey of seeking her husband, carrying with her the bark of the Ti-tree, she had brought with her from Coogen Heads….. Charlotte Williams [nee Brown] – Ngarakbal Githabal
And a contemporary rendition of the same Marriage Lore – prepared for the Department of Environment and Conservation in May 2006
…..Leo was a Balugan who was staying with his old uncle Miyarni. He would look after his uncle who was an old clever fella…….The Balugan said: “I’m going to have to leave you for a while. I am going over to the coast. I want to go down to the tribal battle”…the Uncle said “ don’t leave me on my own.” But Leo insisted he had to go.
The next morning the Balugan woke up early to leave. He told the uncle that there was plenty of gwiyam [possum] and honey and away he went. He went over towards the cost, camping on the way. The coast was where the fight was, it was lasting four days. There was a Guangun there where they were having the gunarra [fight]. A Guangun is a very attractive presentable woman with all the attributes of being beautiful. That Guangun saw the Balugan and she saw that he was handsome. She was feeling in her heart that she wanted to be with the Balugan……..She was a Ngarakwal woman and her name was Kumbarra…”…..
Today the site of the spiral stones “north of Norries Headland” is known as Casuarina Estate Kingscliff….The spiral stones ‘djurebil’ [sacred site] commemorated the end of the wars between the Ngarakbal and the Githabal….it celebrates LOVE and respect…..and its linked to the stars….but that’s another Bootheram
“The spiral is a spiritualized circle…In the spiral form, the circle, uncoiled, has ceased to be vicious; it has been set free”…Vladimir Nabokov…..
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As you drive out of the regional town of Murwillumbah – 30 km from Byron Bay on the most eastern point of Australia on route to Mt Warning/Wollumbin- you cross a bridge at the junction of two rivers…. To the uninitiated of the local Aboriginal Bootheram [Dreaming], this bridge is just a blip on the map with lovely scenic vistas….but to the ancestral peoples, the Ngarakbal Githabal, this is a site of great spiritual and historical significance.
Byangum is the meeting place of the incoming [Salt] & outgoing [Fresh] waters systems, and it is here at Byangum that the river splits into the South & Main arms of the Tweed Valley Caldera and encircles and protects the central sacred complex of Wollumbin…Water is sacred to the people and has significant meaning within their ‘Skin Lore’ kinship systems. Its sacredness permeates all….It comes from the ancient Lore of the Rainbow Serpent…The Ngarakbal Githabal are descendants of the ancestral Carpet-snake clans of the Feathered Serpent Traditions of Australia…
Byangum was the natural Tidal Limit before the construction of the Bray Park weir a few kilometers down river in the 1960’s….Crown surveyor, Alan Cunningham had sailed his surveying vessel up to Byangum, in 1828 to “chart the interior in order to find a suitable fresh water site for the crown to establish a settlement”…A settlement was established and mapped for future development, but later abandoned, and the town now known as Murwillumbah was relocated and established several miles downriver.
The Ngarakbal Githabal traditional name for the place Byangum is ‘Ngungumth’, but Byangum was the nearest the white man could get to pronouncing it…and for them, in accordance with tradition, lore and custom, this place is also the name of the tribal custodian of the djurebil [sacred site] that is located there ….and a custodian of a djurebil has important responsibilities to their site…they MUST protect it…Custodian Rights and Responsibilities are never self-professed. They are inherited thru the kinship ‘Skin’ totemic descent of the Lore, Language and Land that the djurebil is located in…This occurs throughout the continent…
As you drive across the bridge at Ngungumth [Byangum] above it is a Sphinx-like Mountain…This mountains traditional name was ‘Moolumbah’….and to the Ngarakbal and Githabal it is, traditionally, the face of a significant Buloogan or Warrior/Sage who faces to the East’, towards the rising sun…
Buloogan is a descriptive title. It is not the name of the Warrior Sage ….This Buloogan has several names – Burrigan or Durrigan or Durramulan are just some of ‘his’ names…. and there are other mountains named after him as he ‘walks’ through the landscape…and He has many Bootheram [Dreaming Lores] about his journeys… He teaches Lore and values to the people, and as he walks he sings, and he also carries a long vine[plant]…He is a powerful ‘Weeun’ [clever fella/spirit ancestor] his songs create and his vine makes the land….His story is an important facet of the Bootheram [Dreaming] which links to all the other ancestral Creation Spirits journeys…and in each respective country a custodian is responsible for ‘His’ djurebil in accordance with the Lore, Language and Land its located….each custodian holds the respective songs and ceremonies of the Buloogan’s journey…and together [each portion in each ‘country’ combine] to make the ‘songline’…
Buloogan travels all over the land…His name changes with every new ‘country’ he enters, with every language that fills the ancient continent of Australia…..In this portion of his many journeys He is traveling from the coast [Byron Bay-Brunswick] to Byangum, where he faces east towards the rising sky….This place is in Ngarakbal ‘country’, in the Wollumbin volcano, and then, He travels inland to the Githabal volcano…and then on- on his many journeys through the respective countries….all the while singing and teaching as he travels…He is a Culture Hero….a Sky Ancestor Hero, from the Dreamtime – Bootheram….from the Feathered Serpent Traditions
He has many mountains and planes…The land tells us his story..The land IS his story, and so too does the night sky….In the Ngarakbal portion of his journey one of his mountains was gazetted as Hatton’s Bluff by the crown – named for the Wollumbin Post Office Master, Mr. Hatton of Byangum Village in the Wollumbin Parish – the site the crown had originally selected as a suitable location to build the town of Murwillumbah, which was the nearest the white man could get to pronouncing the ancestral dialect name of Moolumbah….It’s a beautiful place in the foothills of Mount Warning/Wollumbin…. A significant location to the ancestral peoples Lore, as given to them by the Sky Ancestors….Junction of two rivers encircling the central djurebil… ‘Meeting place of the waters’…Salt and Fresh…It is also the site of a battle between Ngarakbal warriors and invading settlers…The ‘last stand’ of resistance against the guns to uphold the traditions of the ancestor, Buloogan’s ‘djurebil’ from decimation and theft by the colonial invaders.
Some Background History….
By the early 1860’s English Squatters occupied some 3,000 squares miles of the ancestral aboriginal estates from the Macpherson Ranges in the north to the Clarence River in the south…the title ‘Squatter’ is exactly as it implies – an illegal occupant [of owned property]…..They, the Squatters, took the lands by force…Guns verses Spears….Guns won, of course
Around 1862 the first selectors [prospective farmers] who were, according to the crown legally entitled to occupy and later buy freehold land whether it was being occupied by either squatters, ancestral peoples, or not, began to move into the district….so by 1862 the Ngarakbal Githabal lands were under a second wave of siege…the first had been from Moreton Bay Penal Colony days [commencing 1824] but that’s another chapter so I won’t digress…I’ll just say that was the most brutal time of the invasion…
Anyway…..Joshua Bray was a Squatter who arrived in the Ngarakbal ancestral estate in 1863. He had relocated from the Brungle Run, in Tumut, which are the ancestral lands of the Ngarigu people that had been taken by force as part of the invasion process of the crown. Tumut is approx. 1500km south of the Tweed …..
Joshua brought with him Native Police from the south….The standard formula of the invasion process was simple – set a black man against a black man – give him a uniform, a horse, arm him, pay him with tobacco and alcohol [the currency in those times] and give him right of access to women of the defeated…pillage and rape… an effective ‘tool’ of war against the ancestral people that has been used by the crown throughout its global career….
During the 1860’s large areas had been declared and gazetted as Forest Reserves and had been the domain of Timber getters harvesting the rare rainforest timbers for export back to England…I’m leaving out a whole chunk of information here about the penal colonies and the battles of the ancestral people to hold their lands…but, by 1887 much of the Tweed Richmond had been resumed and gazetted as the Tweed Richmond Gold Fields…now, a lot of people don’t realise that the Native Police force were also responsible for policing the gold fields throughout the east coast colonies – It goes back to the Eureka Stockade days in the Victorian Gold Fields….and as the crown wasn’t [isn’t] in the habit of keeping records, today the government still refuse to recognise any form of battle ever took place at all [which is a fallacy] ….According to the crowns accredited history books they were welcomed into the country and the ancestral people happily gave them all their lands and peaceful relocated to Reserves…mmmmm.
Anyway, Joshua Bray was the first Police Magistrate in Ngarakbal ‘country’ [arriving 1863] and commander of the Native Police force – He established the Kynnumboon Post Office [whilst a ‘squatter’] – He was a Justice of the Peace, the Coroner, the Gold Mining Warden, and, after his brother James left the district for another appointment, Joshua also became the Crown Land Agent….He had guns and crown instructions…basically it was, take the Ngarakbal lands and prepare a settlement for first settler selector arrivals and then sell the land to them for the crown…and presumably, destroy all records of battles, then sit back and take his place as a founding father of the Tweed confident that His-story would look after him….
Before invasion the lush landscape of the Ngarakbal Githabal supported several thousand people in the ancestral tribes….each tribe was a family clan…and it had been their home for thousands and thousands of years…
In 1882 the newly formed Aborigines Protection Board – facilitated by the police- conducted a census of Aboriginal people in NSW…….”On the Tweed River a population of one hundred and nine Aboriginal people is stated in the Aborigines Protection Board Report – these people are divided into two classifications with 97 Aboriginal, [in subsequent census identified as ‘full-bloods’], and 12 half-castes”. [Reibe 2001:52]
The 1885-86 records of Joshua Bray’s census team show 90 adults and 52 children for Tweed & Brunswick & Grafton areas….
By 1886 The NSW Aborigines Protection Board Report shows NONE in Tweed, with only two adults at Ballina and two adults in Lismore, and a state decrease of 146 males, 63 females and 260 children…total of 469 full blood deaths in one year…..
Many epic battles had been fought between the crown invaders and the Ngarakbal between first contact and 1890 – and these are in the oral traditions still …That the crown stealthily didn’t keep the records of the slaughters is classic tactical His-story sanitisation, and by 1887 most of the surviving Ngarakbal people had been placed into the Brunswick Reserve at Byron bay – Administrated by the police under the dubious title of the Aborigines Protection Board… From this reserve the survivors were systematically relocated out of their ancestral area into Barambah settlement in SE Qld…A few remnant survivors had found survival amongst the first White settlers, and some had gainful employment as postal workers, which afforded a small level of liberty to remain in their ancestral land, and the ability to move between settlements established by the invaders…and one of those postal workers was a Ngarakbal man named Johnny Brown…
In 1866 James Bray left Tumut … He and his family travel to the Tweed. For his ‘special services’, as a ‘Special Constable’, James received the appointment of Crown Land Agent at the Tweed and soon afterwards was also appointed Clerk of Petty Sessions. Whilst he was building a house at Dunbible Creek [near Stokers Siding- onroute to Byangum] his family stayed at Coolamon with the Gray’s [now Murwillumbah – the relocated settlement] …Whilst still at Dunbible he selected 300 acres of land across the creek and facing the Tweed River in the name of his daughter Lucy….. As Government Land Agent he could not select in his own name…..This land was what is now Byangum, or Ngungumth, a djurebil, and traditionally the place of a significant Buloogan or Warrior/Sage who faces to the East’, towards the rising sun…who sings the landscape and carries a vine….and it was also the crowns first choice of a settlement, beneath ‘Moolumbah’…
Well…imagine how outraged any ancestral person would be about such a significant site being stolen…imagine if your property was stolen…would you fight?…well the Ngarakbal fought…as depleted as they were, with all their kin incarcerated in Reserves…the remaining small remnant in the ancestral lands rallied a resistance to hold their Lore djurebil site of the Baloogun…and as fate would have it, despite crown orders to destroy all records of battles, James Bray did have at least one recorded instance of this altercation with the ancestral Aboriginal people…
It was Sunday September 16th 1866, just a few months after Joshua Bray’s arrival in Ngarakbal lands .
“Blacks away all day until late in the evening when they returned I got Bony & Jimmy to accompany me to Coolamon – to put my horses over by high tide on Monday morning. When I got over H.Clarke said my place was not safe as the Tyalgum Blacks had left their Gins up there and that meant mischief. So I had a cup of tea at half past seven p.m. and got ready to return at once accompanied by Clarke. When we got to the camp the Blacks immediately ran away & swam the river….We then made all haste to Skinners and made our way through the brush on the middle arm. We succeeded ‘Thank God’ in reaching the boat before the Blacks – made our way home to Dunbible and surprised the camp – making Wollumbin Johnny prisoner -& to our surprise discovered next morning that they had planted in the scrub in close proximity to the main camp – the following grim warriors – Jacky Bundash- Big Jimmy – Jimmy Kelly or Scrammy Kelly – Wigam – Monday – Big Billy – Dickin – Charley- [and two or three names unknown] – the names of my own Blacks who were implicated in the plot were Jacky Merrylegs – Bony- Pointer- Jimmy Crow- Jimmy or Talgemma- Bob & Wallumbin Johnny.
I kept Wallumbin chained up until Monday morning and then threatened to shoot him – he then revealed a portion of the plot, that they intended murder but it was a black to be the victim – so I let him go- tho’ I was convinced that he was telling a lie – but I had no proof against him” ….James Bray
By 1879 there were six appointed Magistrates to operate the Police Districts of Cudgen; Murwillumbah; Tweed and Brunswick…….They were Joshua Bray, Thomas Robinson, W.Hindmarsh, George Nixon, Frank Nixon and James Pringle…….At this time the Tweed District included Byron shire
James Rowland, pictured, left, with ‘his’ Aborigines was a half-brother of Joshua & James Bray. Rowland also selected his lands at Byangum on the pathway from Brunswick . He was enumerator of the Aboriginal Census for Brunswick in 1871 – The number James Rowland registered was 70 [Ngarakbal Githabal descendants] …James Bray in a letter to the Register General wrote
..”He has to take a guide [black] and go across the mountains, a great part of the distance being dense scrub through which they must cut their road…”… he used a guide to get to Byangum, and hence the name Rowlands Creek, at UKI today, near Mt Warning on route to Byangum – The guide following an ancient pathway of the Sky Ancestor Baloogan – Burrigan, Durramulan or Durrigan, the Warrior Sage who carried a vine and taught the people Lore…
Because of his resistance Johnny Brown was relocated to the Brunswick Reserve. His descendants had already been incarcerated there. Because of his crimes against the crown, they sent him north to Purga Reserve, and then on to Barambah Labour Camp in south east qld…from there he was sent east to the policed labour camps on the Sunshine Coast – 500kms from his family and his ancestral homelands…Johnny Brown – along with his enslaved kinsmen, had rallied to uphold Baloogan’s durebil against all odds…he gave this song to his surviving family….It was related by his Granddaughter, Charlotte, in the 1950,s as her part in the Civil Rights campaigns to recognize Aboriginal people as legally being human, and not Flora and Fauna as the crown had so cruelly classified aboriginal people in those times….He is singing for the loss of his djurebil…His Culture, His Land, His life
The Song of the Vine….related by Charlotte Williams [nee Brown] Gullival tribe – Ngarakbal Githabal Moiety…
“There was a vine whose spirit was a man.
These forest vines’, they were the Spirit peoples vines.
They were not made by men.
And someone cut this vine, and there this man is struggling to be alive.
This is my own grandfathers song.
“I am here”, the songs say’s…”I am this vine”…
“My life is going away from me, from this ground”
“This place, this dust. My ears are ringing”
“Gaungun the spirit woman is making my ears no good”
“My ears are ringing. I’ll never see this world no more”
And one man came along and saw this vine struggling to be alive. He covered it with dust. When I think of my old people, how they would sit down and sing their songs to me, I could cry…”.
Rest assured…despite the best efforts of authoritarian systems Johnny’s descendants survived and so did their Bootheram Lore, just as it has done throughout time….
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Aboriginal Star Lore Author & Lecturer Stella Star Lore