The Gundungurra People
This information was written in conjunction with the Gundungurra Tribal Council. It includes words from the authentic Gundungurra language, to describe how the caves and the land above was used by the Gundungurra people, whose culture stretches back tens of thousands of years and which is very much a living culture today. The artwork on these pages was created by Tom Brown, Gundungurra artist.
Yadagee Yaddung Yangoo Borca Mandoo Ginee Burra Burra Gindungurra Yadagee. This is the language of the Gundungurra speaking people – the Gundungurra Nation. The land is bounded by the highest ridges of the Blue Mountains to the north, down to Goulburn in the south, the area around Picton to the east and to the area between Oberon and Bathurst on the west.
Jenolan Caves are in the lands of the Burra Burra people, a clan group of the Gundugurra Nation. A clan group is a collection of families and extended families who speak the Gundungurra language, but with a slightly different dialect.
The boundaries of the Burra Burra stretch from the Fish River and Campbell River to the East and North and from the Cox River and Kowmung River to the west and south.
Each clan is identified with a special totem (sacred animal) passed down from the Dreamtime by successive headmen or lore keepers. The totem differs according to where the clan lives.
As descendents of the ancestral Gunyunggalinglung beings (that the Aboriginal people believe made the world), to intentionally injure, kill or eat one’s clan totem animal brings great misfortune on your all your extended family.
The totem of the Burra Burra Clan is the Gunyunggalinglung Burra Burra.
The totem of the Burragorang Clan is the Gunyunggalong Biggiewan. In summer the Gunyunggalung Biggiewan can be seen all over the area around the Blue Lake and the waterfall opposite Jenolan’s ticket office. Its representation can be seen throughout country in rock art and cave paintings.
The Dreamtime is an explanation of how the Earth, and all that lives on it, was created. It is a complete religious belief system, based upon a spiritual connection to land, culture, animals, totems, kinship and sacred sites.
This interconnection is ongoing and did not just exist in the creation time. For example darhgang is a complex formal structure that is the basis for all social activity and has strict rules.
Sacred sites are special physical and spiritual locations. essential to purposes such as initiations. There are sites for men only and women only, as well as sites for all. These important sites, unlike a Mosque or Cathedral, might not be of obvious significance to non Aboriginal people. However, great offence is caused when sacred sites are interfered with either accidentally or deliberately.
Murrin are passed down by elders, for all Aboriginal people in their respective Nation to follow. If this connection is broken, by forced removal or dispossession, then the people become adrift, separated from their innermost beliefs.
- Include Aboriginal Culture on School Excursions
- Aboriginal Culture Self Guided Tours
- Healing Waters
- Healing Plants Near Jenolan
- Dreamtime Story of Gurrangatch & Mirrigan
- Cultural Significance of Birds & Animals
- Food & Equipment for the Journey to Jenolan
- Aboriginal use of Fire
- European Settlement