The Gundangara (also spelled Gundungara and Gundungurra) are an Indigenous Australian people in south-eastern New South Wales, Australia. Their traditional lands include present day Goulburn and the Southern Highlands.
|aka: Gundungurra, Gundungari, Gundanora, Gurragunga, Burragorang (Tindale)|
Sydney Basin bioregion
|Area (approx. 11,000 km2 (4,200 sq mi))|
|Bioregion:||Southern Highlands, Cumberland Plain,|
|Location:||Sydney, New South Wales, Australia|
|Mountains:||Blue Mountains, Great Dividing Range, Southern Highlands|
|Rivers:||Avon, Cataract, Cordeaux, Coxs, Georges, Nepean, Warragamba, Wingecarribee, Wollondilly|
|Other geological:||Illawarra escarpment|
The first attempt at a brief description of the Gundangara language was undertaken by R. H. Mathews in 1901. The language is classified as a subset of the Yuin-Kuric branch of the Pama-Nyungan language family, and is very close to Ngunnawal.
The Gandangara lived throughout an area covering an estimated 11,000 square kilometres (4,100 sq mi) in the south-east region of New South Wales. According to Norman Tindale, their lands encompassed Goulburn and Berrima, running down the Nepean River (Wollondilly) until the vicinity of Camden. This includes the catchments of the Wollondilly and Coxs rivers, and some territory west of the Great Dividing Range.
The Gandangara were formed into a variety of hordes, among which were the
- Therabulat (middle Coxs River area)
In 1802, the explorer Francis Barrallier met the Gundungara people as his party moved through "The Cowpastures" southwest of Sydney, crossing the Nattai to the Wollondilly River and up to the heights above where Yerranderie now stands. Barrallier noted in his journal that the Gundungara "themselves build huts for the strangers they wish to receive as friends." Most of their land was initially not appetizing for early settlers, given the poor quality of the Nepean sandstone soils, and in a bid to stop encroachments they are said to have petitioned Governor King successfully in order to secure protected access to their riverine yam beds. This promise was maintained until King's departure in 1807.
In March 1814, some Aborigines were violently driven away after they complained of not being paid their wages for working for white settlers. In May an Aboriginal woman and three children were killed during skirmishes near the Milehouse and Butcher farms, and in retaliation, 3 Europeans were killed. Though this was on traditional Darawal lands, these fatal incidents, like a further one at Bringelly in June, were attributed to the Gandangara coming over from the west. The Gandangara joined forces with the Thurrawal/Darawal, who had linked up with remnants of the Dharug, in order to participate in the frontier war, also raiding cornfields. The decline in Dharug population had opened up parts of their territory to use by neighbouring tribal groups, which also fought among themselves. Aside from considerations of defending their territories against the European colonial expansion, a period of severe drought may have influenced this turn in strategy. Gandangara raiding bands, harvesting crops on settlers' properties, also attacked the Thurrawal and Dharug, so that the latter two began to collaborate against them, by helping the British authorities, and seeking refuge in squatters' settlements. Like other tribes, the Gandangara had developed strategies to cope with the superior firepower of musketry, teasing troops to fire at them, in the knowledge that, once fired, some time was required to reload them, during which the aborigines could launch spearing attacks.
In 1816, 7 settlers, 4 on the Nepean and 3 at Macquarie's wife's property at Camden, were killed as the Gandangara came out of the hill lands in search of food. Macquarie ordered the 46th Regiment under Captain James Wallis to round up all Aborigines from the Hawkesbury down to the these southern areas. These punitive expeditions aimed to strike terror into anyone surviving them. Wallis often found settlers unwilling to hand over the Darawal people who lived on their stations, but eventually, executing what he later recalled was a "melancholy but necessary duty", tracked down a group camping under the Cataract River near Appin. According to the local historian Anne-Maree Whitaker, what followed on 17 April 1816 was a massacre.
Hearing a child's cry and a barking dog in the bush, Wallis lined up his soldiers to search for the fugitives. In the moonlight they could see figures jumping across the rocky landscape. Some of the Aborigines were shot and others were driven off the cliffs into a steep gorge. At least fourteen were killed and the only survivors were two women and three children. Among those killed was a mountain chief Conibigal,[a] an old man called Balyin, a Dharawal man called Dunell, along with several women and children.
Aboriginal descendants claim the figure of 14 is an underestimate, and that many more were slaughtered. The bodies of Conibigal and Dunell, after being decapitated, were hung from trees near Broughton's property, as a warning to foraging natives. Their skulls, together with that of another beheaded woman, were exchanged for 30 shillings and a gallon of rum each in Sydney, according to the recollections of William Byrne in 1903, and were sent to England where they were lodged for study at Edinburgh University, and were only returned recently, in 1991 and 2000, and negotiations have been underway for over a decade to have the remains, in Canberra, buried. The area believed to be the site where the Appin Massacre took place was returned to the local Aboriginal community by an act of Parliament.[b]
In 1828, there was some interaction between the Surveyor-General, Thomas Mitchell, and the Gandangara, near Mittagong. Mitchell was supervising road construction. The Gandarangara are said to have composed a cheeky song about the building of the road (perhaps with appropriate mimicry): Road goes creaking long shoes, Road goes uncle and brother white man see. It must have seemed that building a road just to visit kin was unnecessary effort. Men from the Gandarangara also acted as guides for Mitchell at the time.
Notwithstanding the attempts to disperse, round them up, or kill them under Macquarie's direction, the Gandangara population, able to take refuge in the tough hinterlands like the Burragorong, have sustained itself as an organized social group somewhat better than other neighbouring peoples like the Dharug, for in the 1860s they returned to demand restitution of their lands.
Remnants of the Gandangara lived at Burragorang on the Wollondilly River, where they were interviewed in the early 1900s by the ethnographer R. H. Mathews, who took down some of their legendary lore.
According to Gandangara belief, in the primordial dreamtime (gun-yung-ga-lung, "times far past"), two creator figures, Gurangatch, a rainbow serpent, and Mirragañ, a quoll, went on a journey from a point on the upper reaches of the Wollondilly River, with Mirragan pursuing the former, until the trek ended at a waterhole named Joolundoo on the Upper Fish River. The distance covered by this serpentine movement and the pursuit extended some 169 kilometres (105 mi) away. Much of this landscape with its minute Gandangara toponymic descriptions considered to be "one of the best documented Aboriginal cultural landscapes", was submerged with the construction of the Warragamba Dam after WW2. At that time animals were human, and collectively the animal people of that pristine world were known as Burringilling.
Gurangatch, not wholly a serpent, but part fish, and part reptile, camped in the shallows of an area known as Murraural, specifically at the junction of the Wollondilly and Wingeecaribbee rivers. It was here, while he basked in the sun, that the redoubtable fish-hunter, Mirragañ the quoll, glimpsed the light reflected from Gurangatch's eyes and endeavoured, unsuccessfully, to spear him. The quoll tried to force his prey back from the depths of the waterhole, where Gurangatch had sought refuge, by planting ever more bundles of nauseating slabs of millewa (Hickory|hickory bark) here and there in the various soaks and pools. Gurangatch, wise to the plan, burrowed his way out, tunneling through the landscape, drawing the lagoon waters in his train, till he emerged on a high rocky ridge called thereafter Birrimbunnungalai, since it is rich in birrimbunnung (sprats)[c]
The features of the landscape were etched as Gurangatch wriggled and slipped across and under the terrain, in flight from his predator, or sometimes while directly fighting with him. When Mirragañ caught up with his prey, he would flail away at him with a club (boodee), while Gurangatch would strike by thrashing his tormentor with a whipping from his tail. The site called Slippery Rock', but the native name is Wonggaree, known now as Slippery Rock marks a point where they engaged in struggle for a long time, wearing the rock down so smoothly that people slip on it ever since.
- This name is spelled variously in reports: Wallis calls him alternatively Kincabygal and Kinnabygal; Organ writes this as Carnimbeigle; recent reports from people claiming descent from him write Kannabi Byugal.
- "Former Wollondilly state Labor MP Phil Costa confirmed that while he was in parliament he assisted with the transfer of the land believed to be location of the Appin massacre to the Aboriginal community." (Bertola 2015)
- a catchment area known to whites of the district as the "Rocky Waterhole".
- Tindale 1974.
- Mathews 1901, pp. 140–148.
- Koch 2004, pp. 21–22.
- Smith 2009, p. 87.
- Connor 2006, p. 37.
- Smith 2009, p. 94.
- Tranter 2000.
- Goodall 2008, p. 31.
- Whitaker 2005, pp. 6–8.
- Whitaker 2005, p. 11.
- Connor 2006, p. 46.
- Connor 2006, pp. 47–48.
- Organ 2016.
- Bertola 2015.
- Whitaker 2005, p. 12.
- Grant 2016.
- Mathews 1908, p. 203.
- Smith 2009, p. 93.
- Smith 2009, pp. 87–88.
- Smith 2009, p. 106.
- Mathews 1908, pp. 203–206.
- Smith 2009, pp. 88,89.
- Smith 2009, p. 99.
- Mathews 1901, p. 142.
- Bertola, Vera (2 February 2015). "Ancestors to rest in peace in their homeland of Appin". The Daily Telegraph.
- Connor, John (2006) [First published 2002]. The Australian Frontier Wars, 1788-1838. University of New South Wales Press. ISBN 978-0-868-40756-2.
- Goodall, Heather (2008). Invasion to Embassy: Land in Aboriginal Politics in New South Wales, 1770-1972. Sydney University Press. ISBN 978-1-920-89858-8.
- Grant, Stan (2016). The Australian Dream: Blood, History and Becoming. Quarterly Essay. Volume 64. Schwartz Publishing. ISBN 978-1-863-95889-9.
- Koch, Harold James (2004). "A Methodological History of Australian Linguistic Classification". In Bowern, Claire; Koch, Harold (eds.). Australian Languages: Classification and the Comparative Method. John Benjamins Publishing. pp. 17–59. ISBN 978-9-027-24761-2.
- Mathews, R. H. (December 1901). "The Gundungurra Language". Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society. 40 (167): 140–148. JSTOR 983755.
- Mathews, R. H. (1908). "Some Mythology of the Gundungurra Tribe, New South Wales Part 3". Zeitschrift für Ethnologie. 40: 203–206.
- Organ, Michael K. (2016). Appin Massacre and Governor Macquarie's War 1816. University of Wollongong. pp. 1–34.
- Smith, Jim (2009). "New insights into Gundungurra place naming" (PDF). In Koch, Harold (ed.). Aboriginal Placenames: Naming and Re-Naming the Australian Landscape. Australian National University. pp. 87–114. ISBN 978-1-921-66608-7.
- Tindale, Norman Barnett (1974). "Gandangara (NSW)". Aboriginal Tribes of Australia: Their Terrain, Environmental Controls, Distribution, Limits, and Proper Names. ANU Press. ISBN 978-0-708-10741-6.
- Tranter, David (2000). "Fragments of a Song - A Brief Search for Historical Truth". National Parks Association of NSW.
- Whitaker, Anne-Maree (2005). Appin: The Story of a Macquarie Town. Kingsclear Books. ISBN 978-0-908-27284-6.