Howitt and Fison Papers


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The following account of one of the ordeals in expiation wasgiven to me by Berak who was present at it. It was so far as I am able tofix the time somewhere about the year 1840 and the locality was theMerri Creek near Melbourne.

It arose out of the belief by the WesternPort tribeBunwurung, that a man from Echuca on the Murray River had found apiece of opossum bone from (?) remembered that he which one of their tribe had been eating and then thrown away. Taking this bone up between two pieces of wood, aman had put the piece of opossum bone into its hollow and tieing it tothe end of his spear thrower set this up in the ground and roasted itbefore the fire. He and others then sang the name of the Bunwurung man

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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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The Kurnai Tribes (continued)Row 1Column 1 - Clans(4) Bra-taua-lŭng claimed all their country from the Latrobe River to near Cape Lip Trap (where it joined the country of the Būnworung tribe of the Western Port district & also from the Southern watershed of the Latrobe River to the sea coast.

Column 2 - Lesser divsions(o) Kŭt-wŭt - the [Tynes?] River flowing into the Corner Inlet.(p) Yau-ŭng - Warrigal Creek South Gippsland(q) Orelin - Merrim [aus? oreid?] South gippsland

Row 1 Column 3 Wives from(o) - m(p) - n(q) - p.i.tRow 1Column 4 Wives to(o) m(p) - n.q(q) p

Row 2Column 1 - Clans(5) Jatŭn-galŭng from Jat - Southaln = Sea. All the country west of the Krauatun Kurnai (1) and east of the Bratana [or Bralana?] Kurnai (4) and lying between the Gippsland Lakes, excepting Flannagan Island which belonged to the Bit-Brita division of the Kraualungalung clan.-

Row 2Column 2 - Lesser divsions(r) Yūnttrŭr - adjoining and east of (q)(s) Ngara wŭt [Ngara wŭt?], the south side of Lake Victoria(t) Bina-jera - the long strip of sandy and swampy country lying between the Gippsland Lakes & the sea (Baulbaul) as far as the Entrance to the Lakes -

Row 2Column 3 - Wives from(r) - m(s) - e.m.q.t(t) - d.e.f.g

Row 2Column 4 - Wives to(r) - m(s) - e.m.t(t) - d.g

This information might have been made far more complete so far as relates to the lesser divisions, that is the smaller groups of Kurnai which formes any one of the lesser divisions of the clans.

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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 [?] 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 (Wŭru = 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 [?]

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

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

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

The clan law which which required them as waaug crows to obtain wives from people who were Bunjil (Eaglehawk), the [separation?] of the two clan 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] Werungeri [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 Campaspe, 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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Woëwurung(1) Marriage arranged by the two fathers oftenwhen girl was quite small but the actualmarriage was not until the old men haddecided that the time had arrived.(2) a sister of the man had to be given in exchangefor the girl given for his wife

(3) Those who might lawfully marry were Be-arnto each other

(4) at the great meetings the old men arranged which of the young women wasold enough to be sent to the places wheretheir future husband lived - who took them?

(5) Does he remember Eliza - her father of [?Darling?] [?River?] tribe who waspromised to Billy Hamilton of Goulburn tribe- an also Gellibrand (Ber-uke = Kangaroo Rat)of Melbourne tribe? Does he rememberfight between Gellibrand + Hamilton at Sandy Ckwhen Būnwurung, Woewurung + 3 other tribes werepresent - + when Gellibrand beat Hamilton?(Billy remembers all this)

(6) Does he know Binbeal - the Rainbow?Yes Binbeal one of Bunjil's young men

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(11) (7) Does he remember the old man of the Moogolumbeek tribe - when alot (7)of tribes were in the Govt. Paddock + allof them listened to what the old man said.Who was he? Kala Kalas Knocking orThumpingwith the fist or heel

(8) ask about exchnge of sisters

(9) draw up pedigree of William also of hisfahter's sister +c

(10) were marriages made up at all the greatmeetings? "Wangkūn?"

(11) Bilibeari - SisterCaptain Turnbull - SisterJack brother by - BebijernWilliamDavid

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hw0429 Questions for William Berak



Head [??]Kŭrna - [??] [??] [?Long place?] [??]1 Bill billary - [unable to read the rest of this line]2 Bebejan [unable to read rest of line]3 Boi-berrit - Sunbury(language) thŭn willum - Bŭng-erm the Head man

[??]boon [??] [??]thagŭngwadtha - or WadthowrŭngNjūrai illŭm

[written along right side margin]woey-wūrrūng - Kūllin

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XM261 Notes on Morrill



3James Morill

SunMoonThe sun is (nigm) they think is made of fire x xThe moon (wer boon bura) they say is a human beinglike themselves and comes down on the earthand they sometimes meet it in some of theirfishing excursions. They say one tribe throws it upand it gradually rises and then comes downagain when another [??] catch it to save itfrom hurting itself. They accordingly thinkthere is a new sun + moon every day + night p20

Falling starCometsThey think the falling stars indicate the directionof danger and that comets are the ghosts orspirits of some of their tribe who have beenkilled at a distance from them, workingtheir way back again and that they comedown from the clouds on the coast xxthat when there is an eclipse some of their tribehide it with a sheet of bark to frighten the restp 21

x a total eclipse x x and old man told me his sonhad hid it (the sun) to frighten another of his tribe

Deluge FloodThey told me their forefathers witnesses a greatflood and nearly all were drowned out therewho got in a very high mountain (Bibberingda)which is inland of the north bay of Cape Clevelandwere saved p. 21

Numerals1= wiggin (2) Borlray (3) Goodjoo (4) Mineworl(5) Murgai For any numbers beyond thesethey put up their ten fingers together; beyond thatagain the fingers of another person + so on forthree or four persons, till they come to a moonthey measure time, moons + hot and dry seasons p 21

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