Gundungurra river connections

country of creator spirits Gurangatch and Mirrangan*

Restoration site at 'Australind' in the Gundungurra region. Photo credit: Richard Snashall.

People

Gundungurra country extends from the Upper Blue Mountains, to the south west through the Jamison and Burragorang Valleys towards Goulburn. Two major language groups were within the Goulburn Mulwaree region at the time of European contact; the Gandangara to the north of Goulburn and the Ngunawal to the south. It is likely that these tribal boundaries incorporated a number of distinct aboriginal communities with their own dialects, who were probably linked by kinship networks, common beliefs, ceremonies and customs.

Aboriginal people from the district maintained contact with surrounding groups and an absence of natural physical barriers in the region meant that travel was relatively easy. Large gatherings of Aboriginal people took place in Goulburn, with records of corroborees being held at Rocky Hill, the old railway quarry on the Wollondilly River, the Mulwaree Flats near Lansdowne Bridge at the brewery, and the site where the Goulburn rail station is located now.

Recorded Aboriginal heritage sites within Goulburn Mulwaree are often found along watercourses, or in elevated areas where food and shelter is available.  (Source: Goulburn Mulwaree Council)

Rivers of Carbon’s Mary Bonet lives in Breadalbane and has strong connections with Alfie Walker, chair of the Pejar Local Aboriginal Land Council. Alfie has welcomed us to country (see video) and spoken about the deep spiritual and environmental importance of our rivers and waterways.

To find our more about the work the Pejar are doing you can follow their Facebook link.

Source: Our Water, Our Country. Artist: Krystal Hurst.
Jenolan Caves. Source: https://www.jenolancaves.org.au/

Places – Jenolan Caves

For tens of thousands of years, Jenolan has been part of the culture of the local Indigenous people. This beautiful and mysterious place holds special significance to the Gundungurra people who knew it as ‘Binomil’ or ‘Bin-oo-mur’.

According to Gundungurra Elder, Old Jimmy Lynch, who lived the latter part of his life in the Gully in Katoomba, until his death in 1913:

The old natives knew the caves. They penetrated them as far as the subterranean water, carrying sick people to be bathed in this water, which they belived to have great curative powers. Sick people were carried there from considerable distances.

* Gundungurra people’s knowledge of the caves goes back a long way, and there is a dreamtime creation story about how this whole countryside came into being. The story describes an almighty struggle between two ancestral creator spirits, one a giant eel-like creature, Gurangatch, an incarnation of the ancestral rainbow serpent, and the other, a large native cat or quoll, Mirrangan.

The scuffle resulted in the gouging out of the land to form the river systems of the Cox and Wollondillly Rivers, much of which is now under Sydney’s water storage lake behind Warragamba Dam. In this dreamtime creation story, Gurangatch and Mirragan visited Jenolan as well as Wombeyan (Whambeyan) Caves, which were already part of the landscape. You can read more about this story by following this link to the Jenolan Caves website.   More information can also be found on the Gundungurra Tribal Council Aboriginal Corporation Website

Rivers of Carbon projects

Rivers of Carbon – Source Water Linkages
Rivers of Carbon – Mulwaree
Rivers of Carbon – Goulburn

Back to ‘Aboriginal knowledge and connection’