Howitt and Fison Papers


XM689 Chapter VI Tribal Governments




carry, if he killed another it would be given to the second one, and itwas only when he obtained a heavy load that he carried anything himself.when I speak of these Headman in connection with the tribal (?) Ishall again refer to the henchmen.

The account given of these Headman given by Mr William Thomaswho was the protector of the Blacks in the years (?) , falls intoline with the particulars which have given. I have condensed his statement as follows! (1)

"Each tribe had a chief who directs all its movements, and whowherever he may be, knows well where all the members of the communityare. The chief with the aged men makes arrangements, forthe route eachparty is to take, when the tribe after one of its periodical meetingsagain separates.

Besides the chiefs they have other eminent men, as warriorscounsellors, doctors, dreamers who are also interpreters, charmers a whoare supposed to be able to bring or to drive rain away, and also to bringor send away plagues as occasion may require."

Such are Mr. Thomas's statements. Hehad great opportunitiesof pbtaining information, for as he says he was out with them for months";but it is much to be regretted that he did not more fully avail himselfof his opportunities, or if he did, he failed to record the results withthat detailwhich would have been now invaluable.

The Wurrunjeri clan of the Woeworung is a good example of thelesser tribal divisions, andof their Headmen. In order to make what Ishall say as to it more clear, it is (?) (?) (?) that (?) (?)(?) (?) (?) (?) (?) it was divided into three parts. One called Kuraje-barring, was subdiviedinto those who occupied the country from the Darebin Creek tothe sources of the Plenty River, under their HeadmanBebejern, and those who lived on the east side of the saltwater river up toMount Macedon (1) under the Headman Bilibellary. (8). the second division

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was [?] under Jakke-jakke living about the Yarra flats and onthe northern slopes of the Dandenong mountains. the third were the "real"Wurrunjeri. who lived on the western side of the Saltwater river, undertheir Headman Bungerin, and extended as far as Mount Macedon.

Immediately adjoining the Wurrunjeri country on the [North crossed out] Westside, was that of the Kurunjang-Wilam (2) who are also Woewurrung , whose Headman was one [Ningulabul], known to thewhitemen as Captain Turnbull.. Ningulabul was a great maker of songs,which as Berak said "made people glad when they heard them". But whenhe sang one of them [?} [?} it had the contraryeffect, for it made him shed tears. Ningulabul came of a family of giftedsingers for his father and grandfather before him had been renowned [?]and this, as well as his own poetical powers, was the cause of his greatauthority as a Ngurung-aeta, not only his own tribe but also in thoseadjoining. the case of Ningulabul shows how headmanship was hereditaryin a family whosemembers were gifted beyond their fellows.

On the north side of Mount Macedon were the Gal-gal-balluk, part ofthe Jajau'rung tribe, whose headman was known to the whitemen as"King Bobby" and who was the "partner" (3) of Ningulabul. If the latter wished tobring people from further north he sent "his word" to "Bobby" who againsent his "word" on bythe next headman. to the westwardof Ningulabulwas [?] the Headman of the [?]????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Most of those Headmen were related to eachother, by marriage, andthus, where as in a family such as that of Ningulabul, there wastendancy for authority to become hereditary, there was thegerm of a practice which under favorable circumstamces might have


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for a long time over it, until the spear thrower fell down into the fireand the majic complete. Some one brought this news down to the Bunwurungans some time after the man died. His friends did not say any-thing, but waited till a young man of the Echuca tribe came down to theWestern Port district and they then killed him. News of this passed fromone to the other till it reached his tribe, who sent down a mess-age to the Bunwurung saying that they would have to meet them at a place nearMelbourne. This was arranged and the old men said to the men who had killedthe Echuca man, "Now don't you run away, you must go and stand out andwe will see that they do notuse you unfairly." This messagehad been given by the Meymet (1), to the Nira-balluk (2), who sent it on bythe Wurrunjeri to the Bunwurung. It was sent in the interim,so as to give plenty of time for the meeting, which took place on theMelbourne side of Merri Creek. The people present were the Meymet,whose headman had not come down with them, The Bunwurung, with theirHeadman Benbu, the Mount Macedon men with their Headman Ningulabul, the Werribeepeople, with the Headman of the Bunwurung (of the coast Benbow) (crossed out), finally,there were the Wurunjeri with their Headman Bili-bileri.

All these people except the Meymet and the Bunwurung, were onlookers, and each lot camped on the side of the meeting groundnearest to their own country, and all the camps as was usual looked to-wards the morning sun.

When the meeting took place the women left in the campsand the men went a little way off. The Bunwurung manstood out in front of his people armed with a shield. Facinghim were the kindred of the dead Meymet man, some nine or ten in number,who threw so many spears and boomerangs at him that you could not countthem. At last a (?) spear went through his side. Just then a Headman

(1) the Woeworung called the natives by the Murray River about the junctionof the Goulburn Campaspe (??) Meymet, as they called the Gippsland nativesBerbira, thus distinguishing both from the Kulin tribes who were their friends.(2) The Nira-balluk were the tribe about Kilmore. Nira = a deep gully, balik =people, and of (?) and probably adjoining the (?) tribe at Echuca.

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XM690 The organization of Australian tribes




their occurrence in other more backward standing tribesover a vast extent of Central Australia, but also from the numerous references to certain animals as the "sons of Bunjil" which play a great part in the myths of this tribe (1).

[Left margin note - (1) quote old tales from new lands &c-]

The Woeworung was on of a large related group, or "nation" tribes which occupied the greater part of Central Victoria - from the Sea [crossed out - to] nearly to the banks of the River Murray. [Crossed out - The Woeworung tribe was divided into certain] [crossed out - clans as follows: - the people] The Woeworung language was spoken over the Yarra River watershed, and as far South inland as [crossed out - Dandenong] Cranbourne - western Werribee River and northwards to Mt Macedon: But these people did not form all one tribe being divided locally as follows:- giving the names of the Headman [crossed out - who] at the time of settlement of Victoria.


[Title] Wŭrunjeri (Wŭrun = white gum tree)[Column 1](3) The Real Wurunjeri [underlined] The Upper Yarra [crossed out - from]including Yarra Flats - Northern slope of Dandenong Mtns.Southern [Mackay?]

[Column 2](a) [Kurnage-belung?] [underlined]Yarra R from Yarra Flat down - the Plenty R (b) Bebejan [underlined] Saltwater River up to Mt Macedon [Billibilleri?] [underlined]

[Column 3]Boiberit [underlined]west of Sunbury and Werribee.Bŭng-erim

All the Wurunijeri spoke the Woeworung language excepting the Berberits who spoke a dialect called [thŭri-wurung?] - But all were of the Waang class (crow).

The clan law which which required them as waang crows to obtain wives from people who were Bunjil (Eaglehawk), the segregation of the two class names severally into localities [crossed out - also] [?] about a law which was local in its application.

Thus [crossed out - taking] the men of that subdivision of the [crossed out - tribes] Wurunjeri [crossed out - also] [crossed out - of the Woeworung for speaking people] who lived in the Yarra about where Kew and the eastern the suburbs now are, [crossed out - the] were being crow [underlined] obliged to take wives from the Ngarūk Willŭm living about Dandenong who although also speaking Woeworūng were Eaglehawk [underlined], from the Gūnŭng [crossed out - willum] Ballŭk who were Eaglehawk lived near Mt Macedon but spoke Būnwurung language, from the Būthera balluk who were Eaglehawk lived near Seymour on the Goulburn River [crossed out - and spoke ?] from the Waring (cave) illŭm ballŭk who were Eaglehawk and lived on the Yea River, from the BalŭungKara Muttŭng who were

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XM692 Chapter V Tribal Governments



12(see p,-)

[crossed out - the Head men at the time of][the foundation of Melbourne][crossed out - Woeworrung][crossed out - of the tribes as my example]

The Wūrŭnjeri clan [crossed out - division] of the Woeworung is a good example of the [crossed out - Head man], lesser tribal divisions and of their Head men. [crossed out - and their measure of authority].

[Left margin note]under theNgurungaetaBŭnjerim

[This clan was divided into three parts - one which was said to be- crossed out][the "real urūnjeri"; was called Boi-berick-ilŭm-willam - in the- crossed out][country on the East side of the S. W. River + Mt Macedon, the second called * ?- crossed out][occupied the country from the Darebin ck to the source of the Plenty River- crossed out][under the Ngurungaeta- crossed out]

This clan was divided into three parts, one which was called [Boiberik-ilūm-willam- crossed out] Kŭrnaje Berringwas subdivided into the _ _ who occupied the country from Darebin Ck to the Sources of the Plenty River, - and the __ [crossed out - who] under the Ngurungaeta Bebejern [crossed out - camp] on the East side of the Saltwater River to Mt Macedon under their Ngurungaeta Bilibileri. The second was the the __ under Jakke-Jakke [crossed out - from] about the Yarra flat - Also the northern slope of the Dandenong Mountains, The third were the "real Wūrŭnjeri who lived on the western side of the Saltwater River, under their Ngurungaeta Bŭngerim as far as Mt Macedon.

[crossed out - in spe] In further explanation of the organization of the [crossed out - Woewur] Kulin tribes under these Headmen it maybe noted that

the greatest of all these Headmen appears to have been a man named Ningūlabŭl, or " stone tomahawk" from the fact to be referred to again that he was one of those in whom, I may say, the custody and care of the great quarry[crossed out - found] was vested, from which a supply of stone was obtained for tomahawks.

Ningulabul was also a renowned maker of songs as his father and grandfather had been before him. I have spoken of him and have given one of his songs in speaking of songmakers (p -) and it was his great power as a song maker which was a principal cause of his power. His [crossed out - was] is also an instance of the tendency to hereditary descent of [crossed out - an office] a Headmanship.

Ningūlabŭl [crossed out - lived] was the Ngurungaeta of the Kūrnŭng- wilam tribe whose country extended from the western end of Mt Macedon to Bullarook and Daylesford to the south where the coast tribe the Boon(w)oorong stretched in a narrow strip along the edge of the Pt. Phillip Bay from the Werribee River [crossed out word] to [crossed out - the head] Point Nepean, there was the Headman Benbow of the local group called the Yalūkit-wilum.

[Left margin note for above paragraph]on the north side of Mt Macedon and aboutKyneton were the Gal-Gal Balluk, part of the Jajau tribe where the man King Bobby was the "Partner" of [crossed out - King Bobby] Ningūlabŭl. If the latter wished to bring people up from further north it was through K B [crossed out - whom] to whom he sent [crossed out - he] "word" for them.

The Head man was of the Kri-balluk who lived about Mt Blackwood to the west of Mt Macedon wasthe noted medicine man Malcolm mentioned at p -[End of left margin note]

Most of these Head men were related to each other and thus when the Headship descended as in Ningulabul's family through several generations it tends to establish an hereditary authority which might in time give rise to a privileged family and is recognised a chieftan ship.

In [crossed out - stu] tracing out these connections between the Head Men its has also become clear that they exercised influence in making a man a Ngurungaeta, thus it was through the influences of Ningulabul that Bebejern and Bilibileri became Ngurungaeta, Bilibileri and other old men made Bungerim as Ngurungaeta and Berak the [crossed out - Bro] son of Bebejern [crossed out - he was] who did influence I have observed the [??] blacks never dispute or disregard.

There is also a passage in account of the settlement attemptedby Colonel Collins in Port Phillip, near where Sorrento now stands, which isspeaking of an attack upon a surveying party [??] [??] of the Boonwurrungtribe, says that they carried their Head man to the attack.

[Left margin note with arrow between these two above paragraphs]Here from next page 12App 13 & 14here. here p 12A [arrow to pp 13 & 14]

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