Howitt and Fison Papers


Pages That Mention River Murray

XM81 Letter from John Bulmer 15 April 1880



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of course a challenge to fight. When a stick was sent it was an invitation to a corroborie [sic]. Some poet had made a 'big fellow' corroboree and the stick was indeed part of it. That is it was to be used at the dance.

Many years ago when I was on the Murray a stick about 3 feet long was sent to the tribe at Yelta it was marked with their usual marks, and was an object of great interest to the tribe. I [sic] was held in the hand of the time keeper at the corroborie [sic] and was struck with a bough of a tree at intervals. The burden of the song was as follows. Wilpon tho

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Wilpon me gra. At the gra the stick was struck all the men held sticks in their hands, but only the one who taught the song held the stick which had travelled, the Blacks said a very long way. Indeed it must have travelled far for I found the same song was quite familiar to the Kurnai here so that it must have been known all along the arms of the River Murray and up the Darling and through Gippsland indeed I have no doubt it was known in the greatest part of N.S.W.

But it was not always a stick that was sent as an invitation to corroboree

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XM690 The organization of Australian tribes




their occurrence in other more backward standing tribes over 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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[Two words crossed out] This system of which the Dieri [crossed out - is represented by the] classes and totems + are an example extends over an immense area and only surrounding Lake Eyre butalso extending up the Barcoo River probably at least as far as ? [crossed out - Mt ?ilt] in the N. west of Lake Eyre to [no name recorded] where as [?] Spencer tells us (2) it is replaced by the four class system of the - [no name recorded] tribes. A from p 18A To the southward it extended down the Flinders Ranges [crossed out - and back] to near Port Augusta and has been recorded at Port Lincoln (3). [crossed out - overall these ext] Then the clan names Materi and Kararu cover an area -[no area given] miles - [no area given] miles. In table Appendix A are given the [identitie?] and variation in the totems of each class name for a number of tribes.

To the South East the Kararu and Materi do not extend beyond the range of the [Yantru wunta?] tribe whose limits [?] may be simply definded by the Grey/Grey Range and Barrier Ranges.

To the Eastward of the limit there is a similar great area occupied by allied tribes having a two clan organization, the classes being Muthwara and Kilpara with assorted totems.

This area [crossed out - carved by] may be defned as extendiing to the Warrego River to some distance East of the River Darling and for some distance both above and below the Junction of the Darling & River Murray (4).

The class and totem system of these tribes are illustrated by the following [crossed out - taken from] which [?] in the Wily (1) a tribe occupying the counry about the Grey Range, Kingsgaite (2) occupying the country N & S of Cadell Ranges Būlali (5) (3) Boolati occupying the Barrier Range country, and (4) TongarauKa (6) occupyingte country about Momba, Tarella, Wonominta & [Yandarlo?] including the Dunbury Range.

[Left margin notes] + Were it not that the word totem has been so long established in the English language and that it has a meaning wuite apropriate to the Australian facts, I [ful?]temped to introduce the Dieri word "murdu" as correct.

(2) quote this work (3)sent to [Mehelmi?] (4) See as to local organization of these tribes p 14. (5) From Būlali - a hill (6) Tongarauka = Hillside or "under a hill"

[Table] [Column 1] Class divisions MūKwara [Column 2] Totems Bilyara - Eaglehawk Tirlta - Kangaroo BūrKūma - Bandicoot Kultapa - Duck Karni - Frilled lizard Yaranga - opossum Kurli - dog

[Column 1] Class divisions Kilpara [Column 2] Totems Kulthi - Emu Tūrū - carpet snake namba - bonefish Bauanyal - Padymelon Wongarū - wallaby

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18D {Look up the tribes from Port Carpenter down to Adelaide}

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The Narrinyeri tribe lived around [crossed out - the great land?] [crossed out - great] Lake Alexandrina & Lake Albert which form the termination of the River Murray and which open into the Sea by the Murray mouth, the boundaries of their country [?] from Cape Jervis to Mannum and thence by by a line some distance back from the coast round to Lacipede Bay . At p. I have given the local organization of the tribe into 18 clans ([?]) each with a definite tract of country and [ford?] ground. I now [crossed out - purpose] speak of the totems which are attached to each local clan.

[Left margin note] (1) Mr Taplin called these "tribes" - [?] order to bring this information [into?] live with this work [crossed out - I have [?] depend of them as clansof the Narrinyeri tribe.

[Table of 2 columns]

[Title] Narrinyeri clans and totems. (2) [Columns] Clan - Totems (1) Rasninyeri - Wirrŭlde [crossed out - or Tangeri] = Wattle gum (2) Janganarin - Manguritpuri = Pelican (3) Kōndalinyeri - Kandali = whale (4) Lungundaōrn - [Taidityeki ? or Taieltyeri?] = Tern (5) Turarorn - Turi = Coot (6) Pankinyeri - Kŭnguldi = butterfish (7) Kanmeraiorn - Kanmeri = Mullet (8) Kaikala binyeri - Ngulgarinyeri = Bullant, Pingai = Water weed (9) Mungulin yeri - Wanye = chocolate sheldrake (10) Rengulinyeri - Turi-it-pazni = Dark coloured dingo (11) Karatinyeri - Turi-it-parni = Light coloured dingo (12) Piltinyeri - maninki = leach, [Pomeri?] = catfish, Kēdkali = Iguana Yalkinyeri - ditto - ditto - Tiyanwi = Iguana Wŭloke - ditto - ditto - Warangŭmbi = Iguana (13) Korowali - Waiye = Whip snake (14) Pŭngūratpūla - Peldi = Musk duck (15) Welinyeri - Nakari = Black duck, Ngumundi = Black snake red belly (16) Lathin yeri or Kalabunyeri - Kŭngari = Black Swan, Ngaraki - seal, Kikinŭmi = Black snake grey belly (17) WŭnyaKŭlki - Nakari = Black duck (18) ngrangatari or Gŭrang wari - Waukaw[crossed out ayai]iyi [Waukawiyi] = Kangaroo rat

[Left margin note} (2) Native tribes of South Australia [J D Hood?] added c 1899 The Nariū yeri p 2. (quote Taplin's original answer) ---- also from communication by Taplins [?].

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Needs Review



It is well [crossed out - now] to notice that we have now -crossed out - be] found two forms of the two class system which are only distinguishable from each other by the different names of the two classes and the exception just noted as to totem marriage, which for the present may be disregarded. The area occupied by tribes of which the Dieri is the type is ------ miles by -------- miles; and that represented by the Wilya and other pther tribes is ------- miles by ------- miles.

On the border between these two [crossed out - organizations] great groups of tribes for which the term "nation" may be even applied the tribes meet as for instance the Yantruwunta and the Wilya although their languages differ so much as to have given [?] to [asigning?] which I heard among the Yantru wunta that the people to the South East were so stupid as to call (4) a snake "fire". This refered to the word tūrū which in the Yantruwunta language means "fire" and in the Wilya means "carpet snake".

[Left margin note] I heard an old Irishman tell a German that his people were void of intelligence, because they called a Coat a "Rock". "Very ignorant people". he said.

But it is quite clear that the organization in classes is the same under different names and the identity is recognized as I shall ahow later on by these tribes of either group which adjoin each other.

Proceeding now from the most Southern extension of the Mukurra & Kilpara classes in the Murray River, say at Wentworth, we find where the country of the Wembaio tribe of the River Murray ends in the great mallee scrub to the south that there then commences the country of and to the S tribe, named the Wotjoballuk who occupied the Wimmera and Richardson Rivers and [crossed out - their source?] the northern slopes of the Grampian Mountains. The local groups into which this tribe includes are given as [?].

The clan system of this tribe [crossed out - is extended] is of [crossed out - this] two classes with totems and it may be taken as representing tribes spread over Victoria [crossed out - from about [?]] as far East as a line drawn from Maryborough to Colac and next to at least as far as Rivolo Bay in South Australia [crossed out - boundary] - [word crossed out] to a line extending through [crossed out -from Mt Gambier] to the Murray River, (1)

[Left margin note] (1) see K & K a to Mt Gambier water also see Buandick tribe & Mrs Smith

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