Waranga News

Local kinship connections


Mentioned in the previous story, Tattambo (often referred to by Europeans as King Charles) was apparently born into a clan of the Ngurai-illum Wurrung people called the Gunung Willam, whose home country was on the Campaspe River south of Elmore. The names of his parents are unknown. Like his father and any siblings, he was in the “Waa” or crow moiety. As such, one of his cultural duties was to conserve and protect the crow. His mother would have been from another clan, and if she was from one of the groups of Aboriginal people in the Kulin nation, she would have been from a “Bunjil”, or wedge-tailed eagle, clan and moiety.

Aboriginal spirituality


Closely linked to the systems of kinship that were briefl y discussed in the previous Waranga Dreaming story are the advanced notions of spirituality that were evident in the lives of Aboriginal people of this area prior to European colonisation. Compared to some of the major religions of today, Aboriginal spirituality had evolved over tens of thousands of years, with local variations.

Kinship relationships


Each member of the Ngurai-illum Wurrung Aboriginal people belonged to one of two moieties, Bunjil or Waa. Moiety means “half” in Latin, and in the local Aboriginal context means there are two social or ritual groups into which all people are divided.

Lessons to be learnt


The last story talked about the essential items that the Ngurai-illum Wurrung women would have carried around with them as they moved around country. Similarly, the men would need to select just a few easily-carried items e.g. spears and clubs. Heavy items, such as grinding stones, were left at regularly used campsites.

Carrying essential items


Although it is well established that Aboriginal people in the Waranga area were much more than just hunter-gatherers, there is plenty of evidence of seasonal migration around Ngurai-illum Wurrung country. Before times of travel, the women had to decide what items they would need to always carry with them. There would certainly be a number of small tools, such as a scraper (shell), an awl (bone), a cutting blade (stone) and a yam digging stick amongst the items that would be regularly used. These items could be carried in a bag or basket. In addition, the women may have used another carrying vessel (these days most often referred to as a ‘coolamon’, although that is an anglicised NSW Aboriginal word), an oval U-shaped piece of bark or wood which could be used for transporting food collected on their travels. This would often be carried on the head. It could also be used under an arm to carry a small baby.

Freshwater mussels


Another local resource that has been mentioned in relation to the making of possum skin cloaks was the shells of freshwater mussels. Apparently, the shells were used to scrape excess animal fat from the inside of the possum skins before they were dried. They were also used to incise patterns into the cloaks before they were painted with ochre.