Dja Dja Warrung

 The region is the tradition home to the Dja Dja Wrung (Jaara people) and takes in Loddon, Campaspe and Avoca Rivers in the Riverine region of central western Victoria.  Bendigo is the largest city in Dja Dja Wrung country. Other cities and towns are Wedderburn, Castlemaine, St Arnaud, Maryborough, Boort, Heathcote and Maldon. Today Bendigo is still the cultural centre of Dja Dja Wrung territory.  The two moiety totems of the Jaara people are Bunjil the Eaglehawk and Waang the Crow.

The Aboriginal Clan “Galgal balug” translated as “the people with tame dogs”, were the original inhabitants of the area now know as Lexton. In 1836 Major Thomas Mitchell, the explorer, travelled through the site of the future town of Lexton. Mitchell was on the return portion of his journey of exploration from Portland to Sydney. As he descended from the Pyrenees Range his journal entry for that day records. ”We descend into a valley of the finest description”.

These wells are very hard to find, quite secluded and awsome. Several have been started, though not completed- I suppose they were testing the rock or location? It is said they were covered with branches and leaves to protect them from evaporation.  These are in the Caralulup region.

A tree in the middle of the bush in Caralulup where a large section o fthe tree has been cut away- perhaps as a crib for a baby, it seems too large to be a shield.
"Those attending our monthly meeting held on 15th June were most interested in the fascinating talk given by John Tully on the Djadja Wurrung, the indigenous people who once lived in Central Victoria, in an area bounded by Bendigo, Kyneton, Avoca, Marnoo, Donald and Boort. John has made an in-depth study of these local Aborigines and explained about the clan system ( there were fourteen clans in Central Victoria), the implements used in daily life, the trading of items between tribes, such as green stone or possum skins, their customs and marriage laws and how they kept their population down to manageable levels. He also told how the Aborigines, having come in contact with the early squatters, gradually acquired names, such as Billy or Tommy, and later a surname, to give them an identity. It has been estimated that the Aboriginal population of the Central Victorian area was once 1,400. An epidemic of small pox swept right through the land, killing two-thirds of the population, before Major Mitchell's exploration of Australia Felix in 1836, leaving about 400 Aborigines in this area when the first squatters arrived. In 1841, only 250 names were listed on a census and John has done some genealogical research on these. He also explained how the stars were used to indicate the various hunting seasons for food. A lengthy question time followed the talk, testifying to the great interest of those present. John has recently published a book, The Djadja Wurrung Language of Central Victoria, which documents the Aboriginal people of the area and their language, and copies of this were in demand after the meeting."

ADHS Newsletter No. 148, MAY, 1997 John Tully on the Dja Dja Warrung


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