Howitt and Fison Papers





This place [it was - crossed out] is called Walma-jeri becauseonce where three women were fishing theirBrewin threw a Kangaroo rib bone into thewater which then with the mud from the bottomflew up so high that the women were engulfed in+ never again seen.At Yeruk there are stones, where were oncethe two Tunduns, the large one, the [man to- crossed out]Weintwin [father/male] and the smaller one the Rukut [mother/female].These belonged to the old Muk Kurnai wholeft them there.

[written in left side margin]Walma-jeri is nearProspect - Seaspray.

Last edit 26 days ago by ALourie

XM188_ICDMS_lowres Hagenauer to Howitt 1 May 1880



Ramahyuck May 1st 1880

Dear Mr. HowittI received your note of the 26thultimo in due time and called yesterdayat your office at Sale, but didnot find you,so I give you the information about the nameof the tribes mentioned, andhope when I seeyou to have a longer talk about it, for youseem not to have had any informationon the subject.

I Tarrawarracka Tribe, or news ofthe Tarra family.lived at Port Albert, Tarraville, Alberton;in 1862 I found 17 still alive, but now there isonly Jimmy Fetched and old Lamfrie's wife

Bellum Bellum - Woodside, Prospect and alongthe seacoast along Reeves Lake.Only alive now: Tommy Arnott and AlbertDarby others are all dead.This was the tribe or family of oldMorgan in 1862.

Woollum Wullum, Hilltop along the Latrobe asfar as Rosedale; still aliveColeman, Lily - was old King Jimmycountry.

Moona and Ngattbau - from Stratford downto Lake Victoria old Ngary's country.

Last edit 8 days ago by ALourie

hw0404 Notes on Kurnai 150 pages



44KurnaiTommy Hoddinot

Mŭlla MŭllungMy fathers name was Dūlŭng-ngŭrrŭngfrom a place near Prospect. He was also calledBunjil Bátalūk (Iguana) from his carryinga live Iguana about with him. When he travelledhe used to carry it on his head. It was aboutthis length (he here measured about 4 feet in length)He kept this Iguana in his camp with himbut my mother and I lived in a camp of ourown closely. He could send this Iguanain the night into people's camp to hurt themand when girls ran off (Yenjin) he usedto send his Iguana into the bush to [walk - crossed out]run before him and to point out where theywere hidden. He told me that he got thisIguana because he dreamed once thathe was an Iguana himself, so that this Batalukand he were like the same person.

He marked his possum rugs by cuttingthis dream upon them in this way - as ifon his head. He also marked possums onhis rugs, these were his marks (norrie-brŭk)


Last edit 26 days ago by ALourie

hw0174 Press cuttings on Wampangee tribe



[newspaper article from The Express and Telegraph newpaper, 13/12/1887, p. 2]

The Aboriginal Tribes on theDarling River. - No. I,-[By S. Newland.]

The subject of this paper is one that not onlyinterests us as a people, but it appeals to oursympathies as individuals, since we cannot butadmit that our happy prosperous lot in thesebright colonies is purchased at the cost of thewelfare, nay, even the lives of the possessorsof the soil. It is pathetic to be thrown amongthe aboriginals and note how they wither awaywhen brought into contact with the people ofour race. It seems to make little differencehow kindly they are treated, how well clothedor fed, they cannot breathe the same air as thewhite man and live. As they are evidentlydoomed to a rapid extinction it is of impor-tance to posterity that before it is too latereliable information shold be obtained oftheir manners, customs, and lives.

A few years ago the aboriginals of the UpperDarling were comparatively numerous; nowthey, in common with other tribes whereverthe European has settled, have nearly passedaway. This has been brought about by noepidemic, nor the use of intoxicants or cold, orhunger. None of these have had much to dowith it. I can vouch for their being well fedand clothed, and for years spirits were almostentirely kept from them, yet they died off, theold and young, the strong and weaky alike,sometimes with startling suddenness, at othersby a wasting sickness of a few days,weeks, or months. On the Upper Darlingthe blacks, though divided into tribes,spoke the same language and were friendly.They call the river the Parka, and themselvesthe Parkengees. The tribal name of those Ishall particularly treat of was Wampangee.The back country natives to the east of theriver were the Barrengees, at enmity with theWampangees. They spoke a different languageto the Darling blacks, but the same as those ofthe Lachlan, with whom they were friendly.In some respects their habits were different.They had a separate camp fire foreach family and I think more fre-quently practised polygamy, one wifeoften being a mere child. The tribe to thewest of the Darling, up the Paroo to theQueensland border, spoke the language of theParkengees, and intermarried with them. Justover the twenty-ninth parallel, being the boun-dary line between New South Wales andQueensland, was a rival tribe with a distinctlanguage. At one time they struggled hardfor their country alike against white orblack who crossed the boundary line. Furtherto the south again was another tribe at warwith all three last mentioned people, andknow to them as Pernowries; these practisedthe rite of circumcision, or something of asimilar nature. All these aboriginals used thesame weapons and hunted in the same way,though the inhabitants of the Darling weremuch the finer race and more expert in thewater, while some of the back country nativescould not swim at all. I have now given ageneral sketch of the aboriginal inhabitants ofthe country, but it is with those living on theRiver Darling itself I have to treat on thisoccasion.

The Wampangees were divided into twofamilies or sects, named Keelparras and Muck-warras, which intermarried, but a Keelparracould not marry a Keelparra, or a Muckwarraa Muckwarra. A brother had the right ofgiving away his sister, which he usually didwith a view to his own matrimonial interests.They were in this way promised when quitechildren, and in the event of the death of theclaimant his nearest of kin became posessed ofhis rights. A brother had also a right to hisdeceased brother's wife. I knew a rather re-markable case of this kind which stronglyproved that "love will still be lord of all."One of the two brothers had died, leavinga fine young widow, who was claimed by thesuvivor, known as "Old Manum," in accor-dance with tribal custom. His claim wasallowed by the tribe, but the young womanhad bestowed her affections upon a youngfellow and would have nought of "Manum."In vain was the by no means gentle persuasionof the waddy tried, her constancy was un-shaken. As a general arbiter the dispute wasfrequently submitted to me, and, I mustacknowledge, on one occasion my sense of thejustice of the old man's claim, according tothe aboriginal law, outweighted my sympathyfor the cause of true love, and I consented to hisadministering a little mild correction, whichthe old villain assured me would be quitesufficient. A sight of the victim after wasenough. I made "Manum" relinquish hiscourtship and title to the young woman, butthis result was not brought about until after yearsof persistence on the part of the claimant, andquarrels among the members of the family andtribe. No doubt prior to the possession of thecountry by the whites the matter would havebeen promptly settled by the death of theyoung lover.

The blessings of civilisation to them mustalways have appeared a questionable benefit.Before the advent of the "Boree" (a termsignifying whitemen [rest of line obscured]pressing their opinion of us) they were nume-rous and happy. The river supplied abundanceof fish and water fowl, as well as immensequantities of "parper" of the low lands afterthe subsidence of floods. The sandhill countrywas equally prolific after rain, and from boththe roots of the wild geranium and other plantswere collected, cooked, and after beingtrampled into a pulp in their coolamans (awooden basin made out of the elbows of hollowbox limbs) were kneaded into large balls andkept for future use. "Parper" is a termapplied to many kinds of grass or herbseed. It was collected by the lubras andchildren, put into bags or skins, and groundbetween two stones when required. One largeflat stone was laid on the ground, some seedput upon it, and a smaller stone worked roundwith the hands upon it, water occasionallybeing added; when finished it had much theappearance of our gruel. They have alwaysrepresented themselves to me as comparativelyfree from disease; they emphatically denyhaving known some of the most loathsomecomplaints common to civilised nations, suchas syphilis. To me their life for a peoplehaving no ambition, no aspiration for anythinghigher, appears rational and happy. Barkcanoes stripped from the box or gum treesserved as an easy mode of transport. Theirnets, made of a kind of flax or rush, enabledthem to catch large quantities of ducks.These are streched across streams, or even theriver itself when sufficiently low, from con-venient trees on each side, or failing them,from forked poles.

A rope run through the meshes on one edgeof the net supported it, after the fashion of atennis net. One end of the rope was made faston tone side the stream, then passed over thebough of a tree or pole about 12 feet high, andacross the water to another similar tree or pole,and then tied to a stick lightly thrust in theground, the net thus being suspended im-mediately over the centre of the stream. Ifthere was no cover, a few bushes were stuck upin the soil and one or two blacks stationedbehind them, while others beat down or up thestream, unless the ducks were flying of theirown accord, as is usually the case morning andevening. As the birds approach the net thewatchers there fling high in the air above thempieces of bark, at the same time uttering a shrillwhistle, in imitation of the cry of the hawk.The flight of ducks, possibly flying above thehanging net, dart down to escape their sup-posed enemy, and their momentum being toogreat to turn, strike it with sufficient force todraw the stick, and the falling net envelopesthem. One of the natives immediately rushesin, and, wringling their necks one by one, flingsthem on shore. This is quickly done, and thenet drawn up ready for the next flightof the birds. In the old days bronze-wingedpigeons and other birds were caught in asimilar way by the net being stretched acrossa narrow glade in thick timber, down which theywere in the habit of flying to water. Theemu is caught by the Riverine blacks insomewhat the same way as wild animals aretrapped in other countries, only, instead of apit at the end of the lane, a noose is used. Inthe river districts of New South Wales thereused to be great numbers of V-shaped en-closures - if that term can be applied where thelarge end is open. At the narrow end a lanewas made, where the nooses were hung. Thefences of these erections were of the mostflimsy character, formed of sticks and bushes,over or through which the birds could easilyhave escaped; but the silly creatures, whenonce driven in the funnel shaped entrance bythe blacks, always followed the fences to theapex and the fatal noose. Another mode is,taking advantage of their curiosity to enticethem sufficiently near for killing by spear,waddy, or boomerang. They can be broughtquite close up by sitting or lying downand making peculiar sounds, or flutteringa rag or ribbon. I have not onlyfrequently seen it done, but have done it my-self; and occasionally known them come up toa camp without any effort being made toattract them. On the Finke the aboriginalsused to practise another method of capturingthem - by poisoning small waterholes. Duringmy late visit to the north a blackfellow showedme a bush the leaves of which they used for thepurpose; it was the only one of the kind I sawin my travels, or, indeed, have ever seen. Imay add I brought a specimen down, and it isnow, with many others, in the posession ofthe secretary to the Transcontinental RailwayCommission. I believe a few bullocks werepoisoned by drinking on one occasion from awaterhole prepared in this way for emus bythe aboriginals. On the Darling waterhens(kerkalees) are caught in small nets at theoutlet of a funnel-shaped enclosure, similar inshape to that used for emus, but made of smallbushes or grass.

For catching fish a smaller net than thatused for birds was stretched across a smallcreek emptying a lake or billabong. As theriver falls a consideracle current is created,down which the fish are forced into the net.In this way great numbers were caught.When the water back from the river becamelow large quantities were obtained by drivingthem into shallow pens made of mud. Therewere also permanent stone pens formed onreefs across the Darling, now known as the"Fisheries;" these were an obstacle to navi-gation when the river was low, and have beendestroyed by the captains and owners of thesteamboats. In the old days, while the streamcontinued low, great camps of blacks collectedat these places for the purpose of obtaining fish.When first seen by the whites there were quiteelaborate systems of pens, opening one intoanother, so that once in there was little chanceof the fish escaping before they were caught orspeared. Another common and highly interest-ing mode of taking fish was spearing them;not the same way as that we are so familiarwith, as illustrated by the figure in the canoe[of?] the Exhibition, but by diving. Before thiscan be successfully carried on the watermust be clear. The "muddy" Darling,as it is sometimes called, has a milkyappearance until it is tolerably low, when itbecomes quite clear, and later somewhatbrackish. The black men then assemble onthe bank of a deep hole with spears madeof light rod-iron; before they had iron theyweighted wood, so as notto be buoyant in thewater. A fire is kindled, and, if the timeis winter, the operators rub themselves fromhead to foot with grease to keep out the cold.Then with spear in hand they glide into thewater and swim noiselessly into the deep part;then turning with his feet down and handsheld above his head the swimmer sinks down,looking up at the light, and when he sees a fishhe rarely fails to transfix it. The first thing theobserver then beholds is a fish on the end of aperpendicular spear, then a black poll followedby its attendant form, but scarcely a ripple onthe water and certainly no splash. The fish isthrown or taken on shore, and the sport goneon with, apparently without a sign of fatiguein those engaged in it.

The builder rats are killed in a verysimple but ingenious manner. The rats buildhouses, or rather large heaps of sticks, inwhich they live. Sometimes they are five orsix feet high, and from one of these colonies(for many rats may inhabit a single heap)several paths radiate in different directions.I was once with a number of blacks out hunt-ing when a colony was discovered. Immedi-ately every spare garment was in request, ablanket was laid across one path, a coatanother, a hat or a waistcoat, anything oreverything (until most of the party stood innature's simple garb) where placed over the rest,each having a kind of opening left on theside facing the rats' house. With waddy orstick in hand one or two of the hunters wasstationed at each garment, with instructions tostrike the instant a rat entered the openingleft for him. I was told he would only lingerfor a moment, and that prompt action was im-perative. The dwelling was then fired, andjust when I had come to the conclusion thatthere was not a rat in it, or else he preferredcertain death by cremation to a fair prospect ofescape from at least one waddy, out came astreak of lightning along the path to my hat,followed by another and another. Thestate of that hat attested how I struck,there could be no doubt of that;even my aboriginal censors did not questionit, they only complained of the promptness ofthe blows. Anyhow there were no rats undermy pile, but several under those of the others.For promptness of action under such circum-stances I have ever since believed the aborigi-nal excels the European. Their power oftracking is simply marvellous; they will tellyou the track of each hourse on the station.They can follow a snake or a rat, and it haseven been said the most skilful can track amosquito. I have often known them to followa small mob of lost sheep through the tracks ofothers, when to my eyes one as closely re-sembled the other as grains of wheat.But I remember seeing a blackboy oncepuzzled; every track he had previouslyseen he knew the creature that madeit. We were on our return to theriver from an excursion out back, when wecame across the trail of a one-legged man witha crutch. For miles he followed silently won-dering, and then asked me if it was made by a"debble debble." Nor could he be quite re-assured until he saw the man and the crutch.

Among the tribes I have mentioned, thecustom of making a youth into a young manis performed with some ceremony. The actorsmust be decked out with ochre, and feathers,opossum fur string, &c. A front tooth isliterally knocked out in the following way: -The hero or the victim, whichever he maybe considered, is laid flat on his back andheld so. The operator then holds theedge of a boomerang or similar instrument tothe tooth, and strikes it with stone or waddyuntil it comes out. The youth must bear thepain without a sign, or be considered "too-lucha" - cowardly. When the rites are overthe young man would round with the opossumfur cord is started off by himself unless someother has been initiated, in which case theycan go together, away from the sight of women.They may be fed sometimes by the men, but sofar as I know they have to depend on them-selves. At any rate they frequently appealedto me during the night for food. In about afortnight they returned to the tribe with-out any particular notice. At the age ofof puberty the girls were kept from the sightof the men for a few days, during which timetheir bodies were wound about with coils ofopossum fur repeatedly crossed over thebreasts. They, however, were merely kept ina "yapra" (wurley), near with some femalerelatives, and not sent away as the young menwere.

"Making rain" is a secret performance,neither the women nor strangers being allowedto be present. A particular kind of stone isrequired, a lot of grey hair from an old man'sbeard, some blood drawn from their own veins,and they frequently take a great deal. It iscaught in a coolaman, a wooden vessel aspreviously described, and the whole, stone,hair, and blood mixed together and wrappedup, is sunk in a deep waterhole in theriver with many signs, much palaver andgesticulation. I have never seen the cere-mony, but it has frequently been described tome. During severe droughts I used to protestthat the Wampangees were no good at makingrain, ut their faith never wavered. It wassimply a question of time. If it came beforethey had gone through the ceremony theywould declare it had been made by otherblacks. According to them it never fell with-out the exercise of aboriginal power, and butfor them the whiteman, his cattle and hissheep, wold perish miserably. I am in-clined to believe that this was in-tended during some of the great droughts,when they made no attempts to bringrain, but their object was, in their opinion,defeated by the rival tribes making it. Theywere always acute enough to wriggle round aquestion. I remember once an old fellow,who afterwards assumed royal authority, beingimportuned to make rain by a drover waitingfor a downpour before starting with fat stockto market. A £1-note was offered for rainwithin a given time. It must have been agreat temptation for the old savage, as he cer-tainly never had so much money in his abori-ginal life; but he was equal to the occasion,and pushing it aside with a gesture of con-tempt, he exclamed, "Bale mine wantumyour money, Mr. Newland givem mine plenty,"which, by-the-bye, he did not ordinarily con-sider the case, for a more insatiable old villainI never knew.

Last edit 19 days ago by ALourie
All 4 records