The Origine cultures of Australia are the oldest living cultures in the world….and the last unbroken Matristic cultures on the planet…….
Matristic Lore is neither patriarchal or matriarchal , but instead is derived from the ancient nomadic traditions which honoured both sacred masculine and scared feminine for their own essential qualities….qualities ‘gifted’ to them from the celestial realms from which all life descends
One of the reasons the Origine have survived for so long is their ability to live in harmony with the grand celestial cycles which impact our solar system and planet. The Origine people’s ability to adapt to change has allowed them to maintain their ancestral traditions unbroken since the Alcheringa, which is the Ngarakbal Githabul dialect for ‘the beginning’ of the dreamtime.
Commencing on the east coast of Australia the ancient matristic lore of the Origine Dreamtime radiates across the continent. Spiralling from the south celestial pole the ancestral creator beings rise one by one in the Australia skies in the unending celestial particle dance of All Creation. Refreshing and recreating the journeys of the Sky Ancestors which birthed our solar system including this small blue planet we all call ‘home’.
For the past 200 years, since invasion, the spirituality of the Origine culture has been deemed primitive and incapable of supporting genuine religious life. Messianic Christianity undermined Origine spirituality in the belief that the Origine had been living in darkness prior to the advent of the church in their lives. As a result the Origine people found themselves the victims of cultural genocide. Their traditions and beliefs swept aside without treaties to protect them, without even official acknowledgement of their humanity until the 1967 civil rights recognitions. And still the systemic dispossession of the ancestral traditional lore’s and customs continues today, despite many voices calling for its preservation and perpetual protection. The oppression and disenfranchising of the Origine peoples continues in an attempt by contemporary [patriarchal] corporate governance to maintain tenure of the rich and abundant resources of the great southern land….a pattern of administrative governance inherited from Rome and used all over the contemporary world today.
All administrative governance is derived from the Roman church doctrines…..all law.
These Roman laws are exclusively patriarchal and have no inclusion of the feminine to balance and sustain the earth in accordance with natural lore…..and so everything and everyone are subjected to entropic decay – and a dying planet
On the flip side the ancient natural lore, commencing with the All Mother, who is terrestrially defined in Australia as the Tweed Caldera Volcano, the most eastern land form of the southern continent, and it still holds the embers of the last fire of the ancestral matristic lore – a fractal lore of increase rights and obligations which once encircled and unified the entire planet …..even now this last fire battles from being extinguished as a result of patriarchal law processes…. and erased from the face of the earth just as the Romans encompassed all of the ancient ‘goddess’ religions of the globe.
However, today, science is validating the profound truths of the wisdom held within the ancestral matristic lores essence. Academic researchers and historians are piecing together the surviving fragments of cultural heritage and working with Origine Wisdom Keepers to reignite the fires of traditional lore and culture of the matristic lineages of Australia in peace and harmony with all nations for the greater good…..the Vision – to rebuild a new global paradigm of community and love for all, from the embers of the old matristic lore. A lore that encompasses and acknowledges the sacred connectedness of every life force and form sharing this precious orb, together….
One Earth. One Sky. One Lore
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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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The Githabul and its marriage clan the Ngarakbal have an ancient history which is told through their Butheram (stories) and yaribirri (songs) that connect people with their country through pathways and song lines.
This is a lovely story about the flame of traditional culture reigniting in a strong positive manner despite the invasion and dispersal attempts of the colonisation processes
Creative journeys abound in Aboriginal Mythology. Two cross the Australian continent & begin from ‘Cugin’ [Cudgen] in the ancestral lands of the Ngarakbal Githabal moieties….
The following Bootheram is called the Fairy Emu Dreaming and is one of several ‘Bootherams [Dreaming Lores] about the totemic journey of the ancestor creator spirits across the land. It was recorded from Charlotte Brown in the 1950’s…….Charlotte Brown was the Ngarakbal wife of Githabal man Euston Williams…
The Fairy Emu Dreaming
…”….A big rock stands in the sea six miles from Byron Bay
A man named Nguthungulli made that rock. Nguthungulli is our Father.
He’s the Father of the whole world.
He’s the man we’ve got to be afraid of.
No matter what we do wrong, or where we do it, He’ll know.
And no man has seen Him.
“….Nguthungulli had a cave in the rock. After he made the rock, he told the four fairy woman, ‘gilarmavell’, to stay there…”.
“….Then he went away from there and walked inland from the coast. He traveled over the mountains with his dog Korung. He had a walking stick, and when he put the stick into the ground He left behind a stone like a basin..”…..
…”As he traveled He left the bean-trees, and He named the different places on His journey. He named Woodenbong [where we are now], Nguthumbung.”
“He went over the range to the head of the Condamine. When he knelt down at the river to drink, He left his handprints there in the stone…”…….
“….Nguthungulli went away out into the desert, towards the sunset. In our language we say that Nguthungulli is away out in the Borrgorr now that means the sea. …”…..
“…The old people knew that the sea was out there. They knew that whichever way the butheram, the story of Nguthungalli went, it was towards the sea, Borrgorr. You can hear the sound of the sea in that word. They had seen then that we were on an island.”……….
“….Nguthungulli has big rocks in the Borrgorr, the sea, where he lives today. Out in the caves in those rocks in the sea, Nguthungulli has four daughters and one son. And his son is called Yar Birrain…”….
Ngarakwal [Yoocum] Totemic Lore as told by Charlotte Williams [nee Brown] of the Ngarakwal Githabal moieties – East Coast Australia……The name Yar Birrain has several meanings , one of which is “First Light”….The summit of this sacred Mountain [known as Mt Warning] is the first land in Australia to receive the dawn rays of ‘Mother Sun’….
Traditional Aboriginal Lore is held in story,song and dance; and Marriage Lore has its own specific songs and dances within that greater Traditional Lore and Custom…..In the Ngarakbal and Githabal moieties the marriage lore is known as the Eelemarni…..It is the first verse of the ancient song line pathway that flows across the Australian continent from the eastern most point to the west coast…Collectively these marriage songs and dances are a foundation part of the Seven Sisters Starlore,
Each ancestral country respectively ‘holds; their portion of the song[line] in their own specific ancestral dialect, in their own ancestral country……These ancient lore’s are the base ‘contracts’ of tribal boundaries, access and trade throughout the individual countries cultures.
Traditional Aboriginal Lore dictates that correct marriages MUST follow ‘right skin’ – ‘Skin’ is an individuals totemic birth right association to country….Lore Land and Language are LINKED and must never be changed.
Skin marriages are arranged by senior Elders who hold the knowledge of the correct totemic ‘Skin’ that each individual is born into. It is this personal ‘Skin’ totem classification that dictates who you can or can’t marry….‘Skin’ Totems are, essentially, an ancient form of recording matrilineal DNA genetics….. Skin Lore provides vital information on maintaining and strengthening the health and wellbeing of the moieties throughout time…
Through these sacred stories, songs and dances linkages are maintained right across Australia and record the inter-relationships between the people, the land, and the universe…..as in the Flower of Life
The Ngarakbal and Githabal Lore of the Eelemarni was made into an award winning short film in the 80’s
Here is a Bootheram [Dreaming Lore] of the Eelemarni…
“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]
Below is a Lands Dept map from 1890 showing Cudgen Heads….today this area is know known as Kingscliff
This is a Dreaming [Bootheram] that is referring to marriage Lores…Right ‘Skin’ marriage is an intrinsic part of the traditional Lore and Culture of all Aboriginal peoples.
Seven sisters, who were called the Warweenggary and who were members of the Bunjellung tribe, once lived on the Clarence River in New South Wales. These girls were all very clever and inside their yam sticks they had secret charms which protected them from their enemies.
Above is a 1970’s map of the Tweed Valley showing Mt Warning [Wollumbin] on the right and the Wiangarie State Forest on the left….The Wiangarie Forest was renamed as ‘Lost World Border Ranges National Park in the early 1990’s….The area to the west is the major catchment for the Clarence River’s headwaters located in the Githabal ancestral lands
The Bootheram Continues…….
Each day, while the Warweenggary Sisters were hunting carpet snakes in the bush, they carried their yam sticks with them for protection. A young man named Karambil was very much in love with one of the girls and always followed them. The seven sisters tried to discourage his romantic inclinations, because they were all his tribal sisters and therefore any association with Karambil would be punished severely under tribal Law. Karambil however would not be deterred as he was obsessed with the beautiful young girl; one day, having hidden in the bush while the sisters were out walking, he came upon the young girl he desired most when she did not have her yam stick with her. He was therefore able to carry her off to his own camp.
The other Warweenggary sisters were furious when they found that she was missing, and decided to punish Karambil for his crime. They journeyed far into the west where they found the winter and they sent back frost and exceptionally severe weather to the camp where Karambil and the girl were living. The girl did not feel the terrible cold because her sisters had managed to send her charmed yam stick to her by a secret messenger and she was therefore protected. Karambil however shivered and suffered severely and finally sent his wife back to her own people. The seven sisters then decided that they should not cause any more hardship to the remaining people in the tribe by the severe cold so they travelled far into the east, where they found the summer, and sent the warm rays of the sun back to melt the frost and ice.
The Warweenggary then left the earth altogether and travelled into the sky, where the constellation known as the Pleiades still represents their camp. They can be seen every summer and they bring with them pleasant warm weather, after which they gradually disappear towards the west.
After the departure of the Warweenggary, Karambil looked far and wide for another wife, this time determined to comply with the marriage rules of his people. He found a young woman who belonged to the Kooran section, a beautiful young girl whom he wished to marry. Unfortunately, she was already married to a man named Bullabogabun, a great warrior. Although Karambil succeeded in seducing her and taking her away from her husband, when Bullabogabun discovered that his wife had eloped he followed Darambil in a great fury. In order to escape his pursuer, Karambil climbed a huge pine tree which grew near his camp and hid amongst the topmost branches. Bullabogabun, however, gathered all the wood he could find and piled it into a heap at the base of the tree. He set fire to the sticks and burnt the pine tree to cinders. As the flames reached high into the air, Karambil was carried with them far into the sky, where he remains today near the Warweenggary as the star Alpha Tauri, and he now follows the sisters eternally, just as he did in his youth……
extract from R.H Mathews
The Seven Sisters Bootheram begins in Widgabal [Wadjie] Women’s Lore and travels up the ancient Clarence pathway to meet with the other marriage clans in the Winagarie Forests of Tyalgum and the Border Ranges…passing through the Rainbow Serpents Abode & Ancient Hoop Pine forests
The younger sister of Lorraine Mafi Williams, and the daughter of Rev. Bill Turnbull, Aunty Elaine Turnbull, is one of our most respect and knowledgeable Senior Lore Keepers, one of our Living Treasures..
Her older sister Lorraine Mafi Williams is pictured below….
…’…Our Rainbow Serpent Dreaming is the oldest continuous documented religious theme in the world…over 60,000 years plus of Matrilineal Lore.. .’…Lorraine Mafi Williams- Widgabal – Bundjalung proper
Warning – this article contains words and images of deceased Aboriginal peoples.
The Women of Wollumbin – Part 1
copyright Stella Wheildon 2014
Marlene Boyd – Ngarakbal Gulgan
Marlene Shanker Boyd – 20th April 1945 – 22nd of February 2007.
The crowning centre piece nestled within the beautiful Tweed Valley Caldera of the Australian east coast is a sacred mountain known to all the aboriginal tribes and moieties across this vast land…..
This ancient volcano caldera is geographically the most easterly point of the Australian continent and the summit of the central mountain is topographically the first place the light of mother sun touches the Australian landscape and triggers awake all the ancestral sites across the country. It is a sacred creation place of traditional lore and customary culture that is thousands and thousands of years old. It is also the ancestral home of the Ngarakbal dialect moiety and it’s marriage clan, the Githabal, located to the west – following the pathway of mother sun.
The mountain has many names. One is Wollumbin. A Ngarakbal word for the name of one of the totemic ancestor creation spirits who “made the mountain”, long ago, way back in the dreamtime or the Bootheram, as the Ngarakbal say….For Bootheram is the Ngarakbal word for the dreamtime and Bootheram can NEVER be changed. That is the Lore.
There are many ancestral Lore Bootheram’s for this ancient place. Lores that explain things like the geography, history, hydrology, biology, protocols and the myriads of cycles, to name just a few. These Bootheram Lores were passed down through time unchanged and unchallenged, until colonial invasion.
Recent contemporary post-colonial history tried to teach that the ancient Bootheram Lores and cultural wisdoms of the Ngarakbal no longer existed. Having invested decades utilizing divide and conquer war techniques in the attempt to eradicate the wisdom of the ancients and replace the ancient Lores with their own, the crown failed. For the lore is strong and alive.
So how did this ancient lore wisdom survive?….well, It is Lore protocol to never speak of Lore in any country other than your own ancestral country…and there were many tribal countries before invasion…..and within these countries there are men’s lores and there are women’s lores…..that is the Lore and it is NEVER to be disrespected or changed…the traditional penalty is death.
So I am going to tell you the story of some of the amazing Ngarakbal and Githabal women….the Women of Wollumbin…the “Keepers of the Flame” of the sacred feminine Seven Sisters Lore…descendants of Warriors….Survivors of the 100 year holocaust of invasion…..and how they kept their ancient traditional Lores and customs alive by singing their lifeforce into the cultural embers of their traditional volcano home, as it always has been since the beginning of time.
Marlene Shanker Boyd – 20th April 1945 – 22nd of February 2007.
Marlene Boyd, her ancestors and her family are an intrinsic part of the Tweed Valley landscape, history and of the ancient origine Lore of Australia. A deeply spiritual woman, her life, and her purpose was always one of responsibility to, and struggle for, her traditional matrilineal lore and culture to be given recognition, and through that recognition, survival….despite determined opposition she fought for it’s truth all of her life.
Born on the 20th April 1945; into the Ngarakbal Nganduwal Aboriginal Moiety of the Wollumbin Volcano. Born “In-Country” and schooled at Middle Pocket, Billinudgel, not far from beautiful Byron Bay, Marlene Boyd was the youngest daughter of a traditional skin-lore marriage between a Ngarakbal man Chris Boyd and his Githabal wife Millie.
Marlene came from a long line of warriors. Her Great Great Grandfather was Kippa Tommy Boyd/Andrews who was incarcerated at the Nerang Aboriginal Reserve in South East Queensland, an area which is the northern part of the famous Australian Gold Coast today.
She was the Great Grand Daughter of ‘King’ Billy Andrews of Murwillumbah; though ‘King’ was a title given by the crown and of no traditional relevance to ancestral culture it served to identify the leading elders of the communities and whom could ‘speak’ the Lore on behalf of the tribal moieties remnant surviving peoples.
Through her maternal grandmother, Charlotte Brown, Marlene was a direct blood descendant of Wollumbin Johnny [Brown] of Eungella, or ’Ngungulla’ which was how she pronounced it in her dialect. Ngungulla, it’s lush rain forested ridges and crystal clear rivers lay at the foot of the central sacred mountain. The very heart of the Ngarakbal traditional lands and lore.
Wollumbin Johnny [Brown] was a fierce warrior who rallied to push invading native police forces from the original Murwillumbah settlement which had been established at Byangum, where the two rivers meet. His small resistance army fought the invaders back downriver from the sacred mountain, pushing them to the Cudgen ridge were the police had strategically located their main fort. From this fort a clear view of the caldera and the sea provided a stronghold against the rebel Aboriginal peoples. Fearless warriors who braved the crowns guns, themselves armed only with wooden spears, in one last heroic attempt to stop the relentless occupation of their lands. …’King’ Brown [Wollumbin Johnny] had fought relentlessly against the invading forces but was eventually captured and severely punished. Under the heartless dispersal laws of those times he was systematically relocated away from his traditional country. Sent to a number of police Labour Reserves – enslaved for over 15 years. Two of his relocations included Barambah Labour Camp [now Cherbourgh Aboriginal Reserve], with his last incarceration being at Tin Can Bay Aboriginal Labour Camp in South East Queensland near Gympie. From there he managed to escaped and returned south, traveling over 400km to his ancestral Ngarakwal home. His remains were traditionally tree buried in Eungella.
Marlene Boyd was herself an activist, born into an activist family. A true child of the Aboriginal Human Rights Revolution Campaign’s which commenced in the late 1950’s. She was 15 years old before she was legally classified as a human being by the Crown. Marlene had witnessed her grandparents, Euston Williams and Charlotte Brown struggle tirelessly until successfully achieving Human Rights recognition for their people in 1967. Prior to the referendum of 1967 all Aboriginal people were classified as flora and fauna. They had no legal status as being human being. That abhorrent legislation existed only 48 years ago.
Marlene Boyd and her family are amongst the most highly regarded Aboriginal Lore keepers and Activists ever produced by this country. The Ngarakbal and Githabal images, language, culture and song have been collected and studied by our most noted academics and educational institutions since the 1800’s, and Marlene furthered this work with many of today’s academics and film makers recording her living culture for her children and grandchildren to proudly follow down through time. Unbroken ancient traditional lore and culture.
Marlene’s Githabal Mother, Millie Boyd [nee; Williams], was a most highly regarded and respected East Coast Elder who became known internationally as a tribal ‘Clever Woman’, teaching ancestral culture, lore and custom of her people – she, like her elders before her was an activist – fanning the embers of her culture to survive…a true giantess amongst her people.
Marlene’s Father, Chris Boyd, had been a Labourer in the Tweed. In those pre-human rights recognition day’s Aboriginal people could not leave the reservations unless they had an official police labour work permit. Chris Boyd and his wife Millie managed to obtain labour permits and ‘escaped’ with their children from the suffering and deprivation on the crowded reservations by returning to their ancestral Ngarakbal country. Throughout Marlene’s and her brothers and sisters childhood the family lived and worked in the Tweed. They resided in several police permit locations at Dunbible, Billinudgel, Terranora, and Duranbah, working on seasonal banana, sugar cane and small crop plantations.
The family often visited friends and relations living on what was once Greenbank Island Aboriginal Reserve in the mouth of the Tweed River, to attended Church services there and at Fingal Heads and also at the Bag Church site in South Tweed Heads….Church was the only means of allowing gatherings in those times…..These clever people used the church meetings as a smokescreen to hide them from the authorities ever watching eyes and ears…and all the while they discussed the need for recognition of their status as flora and fauna to be changed…for them to legally be human beings….for their ancestral lore to be respected.
As large numbers within the coastal churches grew secretly campaigning the Human Rights movement , the young Boyd’s would take messages from Greenbank Island Aboriginal Reserve back to their grandparents, Euston and Charlotte, who were leaders amongst the Githabul activists and still living on the crowded Woodenbong Aboriginal Reserve Station to the west…. The young Boyd family regularly travelled [under police permit] this journey to assist their Aboriginal Elders in lobbying for the recognition and rights of their Aboriginal culture and people. This movement was occurring alongside South Sea Islander [blackbirder] descendants of the slaves that the crown had stolen from their island homes. Many of these South Sea Islander peoples were counted amongst the Boyd families closest friends in the Tweed, and together they shared the same struggle to overcome their own loss of connection and enslavement.
The Ngarkbal and Githabal peoples fought, just as their ancestors before them, to keep the embers of their ancient culture and lore alight…they did this by speaking out for the integrity of their ancestral lore to be respected and protected, intact….”talking up culture to save culture”….and never changing the Lore….they walked in truth and eventually they won….in 1967 they were declared human, but they never received possession of their ancestral lands.
Marlene Boyd’s tribal name was ‘Eelemarni’. She inherited the Fairy Emu ‘Bootheram’ Lore of her traditional landscape through her matrilineal lore, linage and kinship decadency, from her Ngarakwal grandmother Charlotte Brown. Like the true culture women before her, Marlene in her turn, held the title ‘Ellemarni’ and its Bootheram that links the two ancient volcano moieties of Ngarakbal and Githabal….
As Keeper of the Ancient Women’s business of Skin Lore, kinship, totem and descent that gives her people their connection to country.
Marlene Boyd was a living embodiment of one of the Seven Sisters. ‘Ellemarni’ was the ‘Gulgan’ (Keeper) of the Seven Sister’s creation lore and sites within her traditional landscape; and as ‘Ellemarni’ Marlene Boyd held the Seven Sisters creation song from the East Coast Volcano ….She was the Mountain, and would sing the first portion of the trans-continental song line of Australia from the point the sun first touched these ancient shores….this was her totemic skin-lore birthright. Like the women who came before her, Marlene was committed to feeding the fire of these ancient traditions despite many attempts to extinguish that flame. As ‘Ellemarni’ she brought the light of renewal and hope into this land for all of us.
Marlene Boyd was a true Lady. Proud of her identity and heritage, she continued to protect and fight to uphold the integrity of her matrilineal moieties ancient traditions and connections unbroken, to the very end of her life. Her sublime strength and determination to keep the women’s Eastern coastal flame alive has inspired people from all over the globe. And many have not hesitated to help her fan the embers of the sacred feminine – and care for country.
Her last film appearance in the film “the Gathering” achieved international recognition and awards. This same film won an award at the Byron Bay film Festival in 2007, just weeks before she passed.
She was a Sister, A Wife, A Mother, An Aunt, A Grand Mother, a Great Grand Mother, A Friend, A confidant, A mentor and A Teacher. But most importantly she was a Warrior for her people.
Marlene continued her mother’s works and her cultural responsibilities, doing business, walking in her truth….Walking Cultural truth…She passed over at 8.15am on the 22nd of February 2007, still fighting for the right of survival of her Ngarakbal culture in this modern post-colonial world…
She was much loved and respected for it.
Marlene is survived by her children and many beautiful Ngarakbal grandchildren and great grandchildren in whom the ancestral Bootheram lore traditions and legacy continue on unbroken…..And every morning, as the fire of mother sun lights the summit of Wollumbin sending out the lifeforce to every site across the land, we will remember her warmth, and nurturing and what she did for all of us….
Aboriginal Star Lore Author & Lecturer Stella Star Lore