The early settlement of Twofold Bay, as described in some early short history publications, give the impression that there was no human habitation or none of any importance in the area before the whiteman arrived. It was as if by divine right that the land was empty and ready for white settlement. Of course, that was not the case.

The Aboriginal tribes of the far south coast of New South Wales lived a life of rich cultural and hunting traditions that fed their families with sea food and land mammals. Huge middens built up over thousands of years along the banks of the Pambula River show a life of plenty. What a life it must have been, living off the ocean and rivers, walking up to the Monaro regions for the Bogong moth season and along the way coastal and inland tribes meeting on the banks of the Towamba River to pass on news, carry on men and women's business, meet new members and future partners and to hold corroborees on the river flat.

The early settlers experienced this spectacle not realising they were watching something, in some cases, never before seen by whiteman. They were, perhaps, unknowingly privileged as over the next fifty years or so the lives and culture of the Aborigine in this area changed forever and, in some cases, tribes were purposefully tracked and hunted until little of their traditional way of life remained.

From Granny McCarthy's bible.
"William McCarthy born in London, March 17, 1820. His wife, Jean Craigie, born Strathaven, Scotland, January 2, (no year stated) married at Boydtown May 4, 1848. Eldest son born at Eden 27 March, 1849."

"My mother born at Towamba December 5, 1850. Our grandfather was in charge of Towamba (Station) for Ben Boyd, as head stockman. We believe it was the only house there then, the remains of their old cottage was across the river opposite Bollman's. Old fruit trees there in our time in Towamba.

What lonely times for young folk from Sydney. Grannie often told us of the wild Blacks from the tablelands meeting the coastal tribes and holding corroborees on the flats where Bollman's farm was in our time. Grannie sat up all night and watched them while Grandfather was away with cattle to Boydtown, all the company she had was a tame Black Gin. Grannie, only 18 when she married."
Source: Excerpt from a letter. Mrs. J. G. Stevenson writing to Mr. Bert Egan (former curator of Eden Killer Whale Museum) in 1958.

December 15, 1858
'The Goulburn Herald and County of Argyle Advertiser'
.- On a visit to East Boyd, on Saturday last, I was much struck with the care the aboriginals exercise in the burial of their dead, and their apparent regrets at the loss of one of their tribe. The King of Kiah and his cousin were engaged digging the grave, on the beach within a few yards from the sea, for the reception of their sister and cousin, and not a syllable escaped from the lips -of those poor and unfortunate sons of toil, with the tear in their eyes, and perspiration on their brows, until the bark had been laid at the bottom of the grave, with a few extra strips at the head to form a pillow, and the body, which was wrapped in bark, had been consigned to its resting place, and covered with sand, in which a few evergreens were carelessly strewed, then the faithful old king, generally known as Jeremy Taylor, gave vent to his grief, and his companion joined him. December 7, 1858.

KATE. Were there any Aborigines out there when you were there?
HAROLD. Not when I was there. No.

KATE. Was there a bit of a dark history with 'Nangutta'?
HAROLD. Well, Jack Brindle.....Jack Brindle's mother was supposed to've been a black. She'd 'sposed to've reared him in what they call a 'wee wong'.
KATE. Who was Jack Brindle?
HAROLD. He was a stockman on 'Nangutta Station'. There was a paddock they called 'Brindle's and there was a hut there called 'Brindle's hut'. But he died here, I think, up in Bombala. He told someone he was going to die and he just died.
Excerpt from 'The Forgotten Corner Interviews' Harold Farrell Interview.

Judy Winters, in her paper 'Nungatta South', states that: "For centuries before whiteman ventured into the wild unexplored ranges of the far south eastern corner of NSW and the north east of what was to later become the State of Victoria, those lands were the territory of the Australian Aborigine. was not until the Squatters moved into the hitherto unoccupied lands and came into contact with the Aborigines that their part in the european history of this area takes place.
Excerpt from 'Nungatta South' by Judy Winters

Throughout Australia, contact with the white man, has involved the extinction of the arboriginal, and unfortunately the tribes of Manaro seem to have been no exception to this rule.

Notation on the reverse of the photo
"Biggenhook, Nimitybelle, 1902.

Taken by Sen(r?) Cous Barnes, Nimitybelle."
Photo courtesy Megan Monaro

Years ago hundreds of them would come in and about the towns to share in the annual distribution of blankets. To-day, and for a number of years past one might search Manaro, and fail to find a full-blooded native. The last of these in Cooma was one known throughout the district as "Biggenhook." He was a son of Bony Jack, and though deaf and dumb from birth, was extraordinarily intelligent. A good bushman and stockman, he attached himself to the family of Wallace, who at one time held Coolringdon, and though he would stay with them for months, the longing to get away would come upon him, and he would, without any explanation, go away to another part of the district where he knew he was welcome. He made himself understood almost entirely by signs erked out by sketches in the dirt. His sign language was extraordinarily descriptive, and he picked out, with uncanny accuracy, any physical peculiarity of an individual, wherewith to describe him. He indicated cattle, sheep and horses, by drawing their brands, and in this way could give information of stock owners and stock movements. After the Wallace family left the District, he attached himself to the writer, who was able to understand him, and thus had many opportunities of gauging in him, what it is asserted the Australian Aboriginal does not possess high degree of intellectuality. Biggenhook who except during the last three or four years of his life, preserved his extraordinary activity, died at about the age of 62 some ten years ago.

But little information is obtainable as to the meaning of the native words which are to-day used to designate stations or localities. Some which have been gathered are appended:

Adamindumee (now Adaminaby) - Camping or Resting Place.
Boonyan (now Bunyan) -Pigeons' Resting Place.
Chakola (formerly Umeralla) - Place for Lvre Birds.
Cooma or Coombah - Big Lake or Open Country.
Coobon (now Cobbin) - Much: plenty.
Cootapatamba - Place where the Eagles Drink.
Coolmatongah - Running Water.
Maneroo - Plains.
Jillamatong - One Hill.
Nijong - Water.
Nimmitabel-The starting place of many waters.
Ironmungie - Plenty Ants.
Jimen Buen - Big Fat Kangaroo Rat.
Gejizrick - Look Out.
Wullwah Woolway -Camp.
Marrinumbla - Plenty Flour.

In some of these names the recurrence of the syllable "ma" is of interest in connection with the spelling of the name "Manaro."
Transcribed from "BACK TO COOMA" Felix Mitchell 1926 pp34-35 by Pattrick Mould 2002

The excerpt below is taken from:
'Bega Valley Region Old Path Ways and Trails Mapping Project' by John Blay 2005
(with kind permission)


There were important path ways throughout the region. Some used mountain passes to go to the Monaro and High Country of the Australian Alps. These were used for thousands of years by the coast Aboriginal people to go to the Bogong ceremonies in the mountains, just as the inland people went to the coast for events like the whale ceremonies. Substantial parts of these ways still exist in wild country, in National Parks and State Forests.
It is of great significance that you can still walk from the highest part of the country to the coast through relatively natural surroundings following path ways used traditionally for millennia. The distance is generally less than 250 kilometres. Considerable parts of some east - west ways are today away from made roads, the remainder along trails and minor country roads that have essentially followed the routes of the old ways.
The main north - south ways are for the most part today followed by main roads.
A map of the Bega Valley Region Historic Path Ways and Trails has been compiled from old maps and journals and cultural sources to show the major ways.
The Koori people of this region recognise they have a remarkable history and believe this should be acknowledged along with the more recent shared history. They say many of their practices are remarkable and unique, even in a world context. Some stuff has to be kept private, but the general stories should be recognised through all levels of community. They can give the region a stronger focus and character, just as for example the unique character of the desert people gives central Australia its renowned world-wide reputation.
This area includes Yuin, Ngarigo and Bidawal country. Things were different here. The people had their own ways and designs. Their stories illuminate humanity's relationship with nature. Where else in the world were there gatherings like those for the Bogongs?
Where else anything like the association with Orcas and whale hunting in Twofold Bay?
The old ways are symbolically important to Kooris of the region because they reinforce the connections that have always existed. Their official recognition would apparently help break down the sense of loss and isolation that comes where people have of necessity to live at some distance from their own country, and lend weight to cultural renewal.
In short, the more the historical sources are researched the more the ways become certain.
Similarly, the more they are investigated on the ground, the more evidence is discovered.
Therefore it is recommended a Koori-managed project extending from the coast to the Monaro and High Country be undertaken to investigate the connections more, both on the ground and in further research, especially in relation to sites and biodiversity. It is vital to conserve, preserve and manage what still remains, as some parts are regarded as sensitive to disturbance.
It is also recommended that parts of some ways be protected, while others could be appropriately developed for public use, education and enjoyment. The full potential of these ways in cultural and tourist terms is yet to be assessed, but in greater regional terms there are some corridors that could well deserve the highest heritage status.

An historian's view of path ways.
In his book, 'Looking for Blackfellas Point', Mark Mckenna, 2002, puts some of the issues most eloquently:

"Why, it was the blacks, and nobody else, who opened up the country," he said. "Who else
would have opened it up? ... They led you and me and everyone else here and there" ... "The blacks ... would yabber about a big fellow station out there and the settlers, desirous of
increasing their territorial possessions, would ... go after them". (District of Monaro Newspaper cuttings, Mitchell Library Q991/N vol. 44 (most probably 1890s);)


At his ease. This princely inhabitant of Bundyang wearing a possum skin cloak was drawn by OW Brierly in about 1843.

The Magnet
Thursday, December 6, 2012-12-28
(Excerpt from article)

An excited crowd of well over 100 people gathered for the launch of the Bundian Way Gallery in Delegate on Saturday, with many others coming along to enjoy the art on exhibit over the entire weekend.
The opening proved a colourful event with visitors from all over the region, including a number from Canberra.
A good contingent of Kooris from Eden came up to the celebrations, led by BJ Cruse of Eden Local Aboriginal Land Council who provided the welcome to country. He described the importance of kinship to the Aboriginal people and how their totems provided relationships or connected people from one country to another.
John Blay, on behalf of the Bundian Way Project, thanked the Delegate Progress Association for their remarkable efforts in making the Bundian Way Art Gallery a reality. He noted there is still a long way to go before the Bundian Way can be officially opened, and that it is necessary to find the cooperation of all levels of Government as well as the community.
"Today is one step along the way," Mr. Blay said.
Towamba author and historian Mark McKenna, who won the Prime Minister's Literary Award fro non-fiction earlier this year, spoke passionately about the importance of history and recognition of the Aboriginal people's role in managing the landscape we view today.
"That's one reason why the Bundian Way and the opening of this gallery this afternoon are so important. For many non-Aboriginal Australians, Aboriginal art is something they think comes mostly from the north of our country," Mr. McKenna said.

The Magnet,
Thursday, December 27, 2012

An ancient Aboriginal pathway linking the high country of Mount Kosciusko with Twofold Bay has become the first Aboriginal pathway, and the longest pathway yet, to be listed on the State Heritage Register.
The 265km-long Bundian Way remains relatively unchanged since colonisation and passes through Snowy River country, the treeless plains of southern Monaro, the south-east forest and the coastal ranges.
The Eden Local Aboriginal Land Council has been working to conserve the path and prepare it for cultural activities for around 10 years.
In particular Eden Koori elder BJ Cruse and historian John Blay have used surveyors' notes, explorer's diaries dating back to 1851, interviews with Aboriginal people and a thorough survey of the actual path itself which was undertaken in 2010 and 2011.
Mr. Blay said the heritage listing was a great step forward for the project and complimented an award received for outstanding contribution to heritage conservation in New South Wales on Tuesday, December 11.
"It's been really essential to have this kind of support, it's been a huge process to get this rolling because the pathway is just so big," he said.
He said the two main areas of focus now are to develop signage and link the path to Eden.
"One of the things we are trying to do now is work out a signage strategy and interpretations for the Bundian way so all the information we put to the public looks the same," he said.
"What we hope to do is connect Eden to Bilgalera (Fisheries Beach) and we hope to put in interpretations along the way there too, it's a gorgeous walk, and there are middens and other historic sites there."
Andrew Constance Member for Bega said he is very pleased to assist the ELALC in the Bundian way project. "People walked the Bundian pathway not just to attend a corroboree or gathering, or to access a particular food supply, but for practical, ceremonial and educational purposes including maintaining kinship ties, conducting business and trade, sharing knowledge and resources and making alliances and settling disputes," he said.
"In summer in the high country, Aboriginal people feasted on the migrating Bogong moth, while in the spring, they would travel to the coast to attend whale gatherings at Bilgalera (Fisheries Beach)."
"It was shared with settlers and explorers and made settlement of the far south coast possible," Mr. Constance said.
The Bundian Way project also includes the development of sustainable camping sites and guided tours.

The Bundian Way marked out in blue

The charts below are courtesy of Judy Winters