Mount Gambier Indigenous History

The Booandik’s (People of the Reeds), lived in the region between Beachport and the Glenelg River. They were the largest group in the South East region. During winter they lived inland, but during the hot summer they moved to the coast. Men were the hunters and women the gatherers. They used tools and weapons. Whilst seafood was the main part of their diet, larger animals were also hunted and killed for food, which was then shared out according to a strict priority. They constructed “wurlies” with a wooden framework which were then covered with branches and sometimes skins. Others were made of logs in beehive shape and then turfed over.

With the arrival of Governor Phillips in 1788, followed by soldiers, convicts and settlers, life changed forever for the Aboriginal people.

The First aboriginal people came to Australia at least 50,000 years ago. Craitbul, giant ancestor of the Booandik People, long ago made an oven at Mount Muirhead to cook for his wife and family. In hearing the groaning voice of the bird spirit “Bullin” warning them of the evil spirit “Tennateona”, they fled to another site where they built another oven (Mount Schank). Again they were frightened off by the threat of the evil spirit and moved to “Berrin” where they again made their oven (Mount Gambier). One day, water rose and the fire went out. They dug other ovens, but each time water rose putting out the fires. This occurred four times (the Valley Lake, Blue Lake, Browne’s Lake and Leg of Mutton Lake). Finally Craitbul and his family settled in a cave on the side of “Berrin’s” Peak.3


Footnote & References

  1. The Grapevine Adam Dimech’s Blog – The Umpherston Sinkhole. Retrieved 15 July, 2012
  2. Government of South Australia: Heritage Places Database Details – Umpherston Sinkhole. State Heritage ID 14734, Heritage NR 13675, ID cod H3810019. Retrieved 15 July, 2012
  3. Mount Gambier Tourism: Fact Sheets – Heritage & History – Mount Gambier & Lady Nelson History Timeline. Retreived 15 July, 2012

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