Our People

Our People

The Bamba Gii Festival and South West Queensland Indigenous Cultural Trail celebrates Mandandanji, Gunggari, Kamilaroi, Bidjara, Kunja, Kooma, Mardigan, Kullilli and Budjiti peoples.

Mandandanji

The Mandandanji people are the ‘fishing net tribe’ and the Traditional Owners of a vast tract of country east and west of the Carnarvon Highway, which takes in the Maranoa and Balonne Rivers north of St. George.

The waterway that runs through Roma is Bungil Creek, has been an important source of food, water and recreation for Aboriginal people for thousands of years.​ There are hundreds of sites with stone tools and other significant remains throughout Mandandanji country, including one site dated as 8,000 years old.

From whichever direction you approach or leave Roma, there are significant sites and places to visit or stop at for the night, some of the sites include:

  • Judd’s Lagoon & Native Wells at Yuleba
  • The Walkabout Park at the eastern approach to Roma
  • Bungeworgorai Creek
  • China Town & Adungadoo Pathway with the Yarning Circle
  • Mandandanji Interpretation Centre

Kamilaroi

The Gamilaraay, also rendered Kamilaroi, Kamillaroi and other variations, are an Aboriginal Australian people whose lands extend from New South Wales to southern Queensland. They form one of the four largest Indigenous nations in Australia. St George has a large Aboriginal community who identify mostly as Kamilaroi people and have a large number of Aboriginal artists and whilst St George is known for its murals depicting colonial themes, these have been complemented more recently by paintings created by talented local Aboriginal artists on buildings now owned by local Aboriginal groups, for example the Kamilaroi Centre on St Georges Terrace, and the Goondir Health building in Victoria Street.

The long history of the Kamilaroi people in the St George area includes many memories that people have of happy times on the Balonne River. For Aboriginal people the River “is our life, it’s our blood, our lifeline. It was our playground.”

Some important sites to see are:

  • Hollywood
  • Thomby Rock Wells
  • Sandy Camp
  • Life in the Camps St George

Gunggari

The Gunggari People are proud Traditional Owners for an area spanning approx 37,100 square kilometres in Queensland’s Maranoa region. Nestled between the towns of Roma and Charleville, Mitchell is located on the banks of the Maranoa River, which means hands in Aboriginal Language.

The Gunggari have a deep affinity and knowledge of our lands which encompass many significant sites, such as camp sites, burial sites, battle sites, waterholes and wells, artefact sites and other historically important places. Many served as meeting places of Aboriginal people and we used for initiation ceremonies and corroboree, the heartland of Gunggari country centres on the Mitchell township, but Elders say it is ‘the flow of water’ which defines territorial boundaries.

Historically, our families lived along the Maranoa River in camps known as Yumbas, which served as spiritual homes, as well as places to fish, gather water and socialise. Today, we maintain a deep connection with the Yumbas, and we recognise Mitchell as the residential and emotional heartland of our people.

Cunnamulla’s Traditional Groups

There are five traditional groups located in and around Cunnamulla, Kooma (Coo-ma), Kunja (Kun-ya), Kullilli (Cul-lil-lee) Barcoo River SouthBudjiti (Budge-it-ee) Mid Warrego River and Mardigan (Barcoo River North). Cunnamulla is part of the Paroo Shire and is located on the Warrego River.

 

The word ‘Cunnamulla’ means ‘long stretch of water’ or ‘big waterhole’ in the language of the Kunja people and that the Kunja people originally occupied this region prior to first contact with Europeans.

 

Cunnamulla, a small town surrounded by a distinctive landscape of deep red soil, flat clay-pans that become lakes in the wet season, and great white sand dunes that drift and merge into the edges of town. The people of Cunnamulla are strongly connected to this place, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal residents talk about its special qualities; a place that will always be home.

For the Aboriginal people who remained in Cunnamulla, most ended up in the two main Aboriginal camps. ‘Top Camp’ was located on the north-west side of town, beside a stretch of the Warrego River that runs alongside the Old Charleville Road, and the larger ‘Bottom Camp’ or ‘Yumba’,  was on the south-west side, near the Weir Road and the cemetery, and also only a short walk to the river. 

Places to see include:

  • The Sand Hills
  • The Warrego River
  • Willie Widgell, King of Tinnenburra Old Cunnamulla Cementary
  • Murra Murra & Bendee Downs

Bidjara

Bidjara people are located in Charleville and the Shire of Murweh, particularly the towns of Charleville, Augathella and Blackall as well as the properties of Nive Downs and Mount Tabor and the Carnarvon Gorge. The Bidjara people are the traditional owners of much of the land around Charleville.

Dreamtime stories including that of the Goori Goori bird, a flesh-eating bird larger than a wedge tail eagle, which the Bidjara people lit a fire under its nest while it was asleep. As its legs caught fire, the Goori Goori bird flew off; leaving a trail of sparks and burning feathers that formed the Milky Way.

The Carnarvon Gorge has great significance for the Bidjara people and other Aboriginal peoples such as the Garingbal, Gayiri, Gungabulla, Nguri, Wasjigu and Yiman peoples. This is the place where the Rainbow Serpent, Mundagudda, began its movement through the landscape and formed the waterways including the sandstone gorge itself.