The Macleay Valley is the traditional home of the Dunghutti of which there are four tribes: Dangaddi, Dainggati, Thungutti and Djunghatti.. Indigenous Australians, Koori people from around Kempsey, Bellbrook, South West Rocks, Fredrerickton, Crescent Head, Hat Head, & Walcha New South Wales.
Dunghutti people of Macleay Valley were affected by government policy, through resistance to colonial process, suffered massacres by settlers and police, Were incorporated into economy through clearing bush and stock work, Segregated into reserves at Bellbrook, Burnt Bridge by Aboriginal Protection Board, followed by assimilation policies of Aboriginal Welfare Board.
- 1 Welcome to Country
- 2 Traditional country
- 3 History
- 4 Totem
- 5 Dunghutti Foods
- 6 Dunghutti Mythology
- 7 Dunghutti Language
- 8 Learn Dunghutti Art & Culture
- 9 Native Title
- 10 Notable Dunghutti People
- 11 Dunghutti Actor
- 12 Dunghutti Artists
- 13 Rugby League Teams
- 14 European Settlement
Welcome to Country
Bimayi marrung. Barrung marrung.
Dhanggati guthun barri dhitiyn.
Nyinanhambu bitha, nyinanhambu warru, bukul, banduunggakayi mulumun.gu.
Dhanggati guthun barri dhitiyn.
Dhanggu barri dhitiyn.
Dhanang, marrungga barriya dhitiyndha!
Good evening. Good morning.
How are you (all)?
This is Dhanggati country.Our (all) river, our plains and hills, from the mountain to the coast.
This is Dhanggati country.
This is my country.
You all, be well in this place!
The Macleay Valley forms the heartland of Dunghutti country, which extends from the eastern extremity at the coast to the Tablelands in the west around the Macksville area.
Dunghutti country includes the main towns of Kempsey, Bellbrook, South West Rocks, Crescent Head, & Walcha. From evidence found in the area the Dunghutti people's territory extendeds over the entire Macleay River valley including the Oxley Wild Rivers National Park. The Dunghutti occupied the upper catchment of the Macleay River system. Above the river valleys, the Anaiwain tribal group occupied the Tablelands. Archaeological evidence of camp sites have been found on the upper terraces of the Macleay and Apsley Rivers
To The North Dunghutti share a border with Gumbaynggirr, To the west Anaiwan (Naganyaywana), The southern linguistic border is with Biripi language.
Sea levels fell and then began to rise about 18,000 years ago, stabilising at their present position roughly 6,000 years ago. At this time the present day Macleay Valley floodplain was an estuary fringed by sandy beaches and Pleistocene cliffs. It has since been filled by alluvial deposition.
In the Clybucca area are ancient camp sites with shell beds in the form of mounds which are up to two metres high. These are places where kitchen waste was placed in orderly fashion and the accumulation of these middens was started some 11,000 years ago and abandoned when the sea began to recede. Food was plentiful especially in the lower Macleay. Climate accounted for movement. The people in the colder climates of the upper Macleay could easily move into warmer places on the floor of the valley during winter. There are significant sites remaining in the Dunghutti land away from ground which has been cultivated. Stone implements have been found which give evidence of antiquity. Spears, boomerangs, shields, digging sticks, water and food carriers have been collected. In the colder areas cloaks were made from possum skins. Sacred sites were marked with carved trees and stone arrangements.
Gatherings took place to celebrate ceremonies to mark special events in the lives of the people. The last great gathering took place towards the end of the nineteenth century. Other language groups from north and south of the Macleay gathered near Smoky Range not long before the last marked tree was cut down and taken to the Australian Museum for preservation.
Dunghutti people were Hunters and gathers, a group who shared a common language and who organised themselves into smaller groups regularly living together.
They lived in harmony with the land and their pattern of life was governed by codes of conduct regarded as sacred, having been handed down through countless generations. Remnants of the ancient culture remain in Macleay valley - Middens and a Fish trap in the Limeburners Creek Nature Reserve and a Bora Ring at Richardsons Crossing just north of Crescent Head. Along the creeks and on the tablelands there are artefact scatters, scarred trees and axe-grinding grooves. Archaeological sites include burial sites at East Kunderang mythological sites include the landscape of the upper Apsley Gorge; and contact sites encompass the rugged falls country where Dunghutti people staged their ﬁnal ﬁght against white settlers, as well as sites along Kunderang Brook where brutal massacres took place.
The totemic relationship requires that people must learn how to take responsibility for relationships with the species and the totemic site, or sacred site, in the landscape and connected to the totemic ancestor.
Black and White Birds
One Thunghutti woman was told as a child by her Grandfather that her totem is Black and White Birds -- in particular the Currawong, Magpie and Peewee. She was later told by a reliable source (a senior Thunghutti woman, now passed) that the black and white birds are totem to all Dunghutti women.
Aboriginal diet in the Macleay region including the heart of the cabbage palm, a tuber known as tow wack, and fern roots, a large sort of yam or sweet potato obtained from a small creeper the roots of which penetrate to a considerable depth in the alluvial soil. The Macleay River and the tidal creeks supplied fruits and fish, but due to the dense growth of rainforest in these areas, these areas were generally not suitable for camping unless cleared. Fish and shellfish from the estuaries and from the beaches, Clams, Oysters, Cockles, large Eels, a small kind of Lobster and fresh-water Mussels at all times procurable, whilst large Crayfish and Crabs are caught among the rocks. the adjacent dunes provided pigface and other edible plants, as well as grasses for grazing kangaroos, wallabies, Snakes and lizards, as well as, worms, grubs and birds used for food.
Creation - ‘Originating from Eternity’
The common core of Aboriginal Spirituality that exists in groups across the whole of Australia is the philosophy out of which values, ethics, protocols, behaviours and all social, political and economic organisation is developed. The basis of this philosophy is the idea of creation, the time when powerful creator spirits or spirit ancestors made sense out of chaos and produced the life forms and landscapes as we know them, and then sometimes lay down to rest or took to the sky. Many non-Aboriginal writers and some Aboriginal people have recorded these creation stories from different parts of the country over time. These stories are often characterised as the Dreaming and, as with Spirituality, the English words are not equivalent to the meaning that exists in Aboriginal languages for the basis of the philosophy, and for the Spirituality that is encompassed within it.
The stories of the sky gods, including Baiame, have different names for these creation ancestors in different areas, and sometimes the stories differ according to the beliefs of people in specific places. For the people on the adjoining mid-north coast—Biripi, Daingatti, and Gambangirr - it is Ulidarra who made the tribes and their boundaries and whose son, Birrigun, made marriage Law. The specificities of these stories is more than can be covered here but it is fair to say that they encompass a similar script. Before life as we know it as human beings, there was a complex chaotic mass of matter that included these powerful beings. They were so powerful that they were able to change form and shape the chaos into form. They developed order and life out of the chaos by filling it with their activity and power. In intense bursts of activity, they were able to transform and develop formless matter into a landscape. The features of the land they brought into being hold in their names the stories of their own creation. And the ancestors in the same way gave rise to living forms, the animal species, all manner of plants, the landforms, watercourses (which, though inanimate, are understood to have their own spirit or being) and, of course, people. Each person or specific plant or place is linked to the spirit of its creation and thus to each other. This is a relationship of mutual spirit being, often referred to as totemism.
The period of intense creativity was as yet without law or morality, as different totemic ancestors in their travels and exploits negotiated, experimented, tested the options until they were finally closed and the boundaries were set for the living and the acting of the descent line. So the ancestral spirits gave to each living form its own Law, fixed for all time and written on the landscape. Some of these ancestral beings were culture heroes who taught humans how to hunt, to make fire and utensils, to perform ceremony and all that was important for survival. At length, after completing their tasks and overcome by weariness, they sank back into their original slumber. Some vanished into the ground whence they first emerged, others turned into the physical features of the landscape, leaving behind a trail of their life, the spirit-children yet to be born in the form of their ancestor. Though immobilized, these creator spirits did not cease to be alive, powerful and conscious. This creative activity continues through the life-force latent in their resting place, in sites of significance for their story and in their various transformations—not only specific landmarks but sacred objects of many kinds, totemic emblems, images, participants in ceremony and especially in their (human) totemic descendents
Take a walk to one of the viewing platforms and you may see a rainbow in the mist of the falling water.
The Rainbow Serpent is said to travel underground from the base of the falls to reappear at the mill hole near Walcha on the Apsley River, 20 km upstream. The site is marked at Walcha a mosaic made with the ideas and help of the local Dhungutti community.
While many Aboriginal languages along the NSW coast disappeared during the Mission days, Dunghutti had miraculously survived.
Dunghutti is the language of the Macleay Valley NSW and the surrounding high country which forms part of the Great Dividing Range. In 1925 at Kempsey Showground, James Linwood addressed in Dunghutti a meeting of the Australian Aboriginal Progressive Association, to protest the actions of the Aborigines Protection Board.
Dunghutti continued to be spoken “right through” until the 1960s. Its survival so far into the 20th century can be traced back to the working camps of men from Bellbrook and Lower Creek who escaped social control whilst clearing land for property owners in the western end of the valley. Dunghutti was the language of the camps and working life, away from the pressure to switch to English in the missions and towns.
Compared with many NSW languages, Dunghutti has a rich collection of historical sources, from written records in the late 19 th and early 20th centuries to recordings of those last speakers in the 1960s and 1970s. These records form the basis for language revival, because we can extract the grammatical information about sounds, words, word building and sentence building that they contain.
On linguistic criteria alone, it seems that Dunghutti is more closely related to Anaiwan (Nganyawana) and Yugambal on the Tablelands than any other language. There were at least two dialects, Dunghutti and Buurrgati, the latter is associated with the region around Macksville.
Aboriginal people were multi-lingual, speaking the languages of their neighbours as well as their own. There are significant social relationships amongst Dunghutti, Gumbaynggirr and Biripi peoples, including a shared set of marriage sections, which is also a feature of Anaiwan cultural life.
Dunghutti has a unique “fricitivised rhotic” variant pronunciation of a trill or tap when it occurs between two vowels, as heard in mirri and yarri. This is an unusual sound in an Aboriginal language. Dunghutti has a complex word building strategies including inflectional and derivational suffixes on nouns, adjectives, demonstratives and pronouns. The pronouns include singular, dual and plural number and several cases. There are at least two classes of verbs based on transitivity, with complex word building patterns to express tense, aspect, mood, and to derive other verbs and nominal forms.
Dunghutti is the language of the Macleay Valley NSW and the surrounding high country which forms part of the Great Dividing Range.
On linguistic criteria alone, it seems that Dunghutti is more closely related to Anaiwan (Nganyawana) and Yugambal on the Tablelands than any other language.
There were at least two dialects, Dhanggati and Buurrgati, the latter is associated with the region around Macksville. Aboriginal people were multi-lingual, speaking the languages of their neighbours as well as their own.
There are significant social relationships amongst Dunghutti, Gumbaynggirr and Biripi peoples, including a shared set of marriage sections, which is also a feature of Anaiwan cultural life.
Dunghutti has a unique “fricitivised rhotic” variant pronunciation of a trill or tap when it occurs between two vowels, as heard in mirri and yarri. This is an unusual sound in an Aboriginal language. Dunghutti has a complex word building strategies including inflectional and derivational suffixes on nouns, adjectives, demonstratives and pronouns.
The pronouns include singular, dual and plural number and several cases. There are at least two classes of verbs based on transitivity, with complex word building patterns to express tense, aspect, mood, and to derive other verbs and nominal forms.
Language survival so far into the 20th century can be traced back to the working camps of men from Bellbrook and Lower Creek who escaped social control whilst clearing land for property owners in the western end of the valley.
Dunghutti language is taught in two schools on the NSW Mid-North Coast. The language program is currently part of the curriculum in Dalaigur Pre School and Green Hill Public,
both in Kempsey. The program started about fifteen years ago and now draws on newly made educational resources and the Dunghutti Language Dictionary.
The program sees elders working with school staff and the education department to enable local kids to connect with country and strengthen their identity & Culture.
Dunghutti placenames in the Macleay those currently in use e.g. Yarrahappinni Mountain (a corruption of yarra yabani koala rolling)
Learn Dunghutti Art & Culture
The Dunghutti Language Group supports language learning as an ongoing activity in the Macleay Valley. Elders are currently taking lessons in the Certificate 1 course at Kempsey TAFE, as well as taking an active part in helping to shape the course with decisions about appropriate content, language development etc., and teaching Dunghutti language in schools. This course will be offered again in 2013 for younger Dunghutti adults, and a Certificate 2 course will be designed for a test run in 2014.
The Dunghutti-Ngaku Aboriginal Art Gallery offers works for sale by a number of highly renowned Aboriginal artists who are represented in major public and private collections. Visitors to the Gallery can also purchase works from emerging artists living and working in the region.
The Gallery is well located next to the Visitor Information Centre nestled in parkland on the south side of Kempsey in the Macleay Valley.
The Wigay Aboriginal Cultural Park, Kempsey is a place of natural beauty, where people come for peaceful walks, gatherings, education and to learn more about traditional plants and Dunghutti culture.
The Park contains displays in Wetland, Wet Forest, Woodland, Rainforest and Tropical plants of Australia on 2.75 hectares.
The first successful claim under the Native Title Act was made by Ms Mary-Lou Buck of the Dunghutti community.
The Dunghutti Elders Council administers Indigenous-owned land within New South Wales on behalf of the Dunghutti people. The Dunghutti people’s native title rights and interests were recognised in the Dunghutti People determination made in April 1997.
The claim leading to this determination was lodged in November 1994 by Mary-Lou Black on behalf of the Dunghutti People. This claim was successfully mediated and negotiated over three years leading to the Crescent Head Agreement. All parties agreed to recognise the native title rights of the Dunghutti People which includes the exclusive right to possession, occupation and enjoyment of the land. Where native title had been extinguished, the parties agreed upon an amount of compensation for that extinguishment.
In addition to the determination, the Dunghutti Elders Council also administers two shared responsibility agreements on behalf of the traditional owners relating to workplace training and youth training.
In 2010 The Dunghutti Elders Council received $6.1 million as compensation for 12.4ha of land at Crescent Head that has been used for residential development.
2014 The Dunghutti Elders Council is investigating the possibility of a ‘blanket land claim’ The claim would potentially be for all vacant crown land in the Dunghutti tribal area which extends from the Oxley Wild Rivers National Park at the head of the Macleay River, north to the Nambucca River and south as far as Walcha.
The Dunghutti People will always be remembered as the first people to achieve a native title consent determination in Australia.
Notable Dunghutti People
- Dave Sands' - Australia Middleweight title, Australia light-heavyweight champion 1946, Australian heavyweight Champion 1950, British Empire middleweight title 1949, World middleweight contender. 104 bouts: 60 won by knockouts, 33 won on points, one drawn, seven lost on points, one lost by a knockout, and two no-contests.'
- Clement Sands - New South Wales welterweight title in 1947-51
- Alfred Sands - Middleweight title in 1952-54.
- Russell Sands - Australian featherweight title 1954, New South Wales featherweight title 1954
- Russell Sands - Australian light middleweight title, Australian welterweight title, The son of Alfred Sands
- George Sands -
- Percival Sands -
six brothers whose family name was "Ritchie" but who fought professionally under the name of "Sands", and Percival fought under the name Ritchie Sands
- Renold Quinlan -
Rugby League Players
- Greg Inglis' - NRL Player for South Sydney Rabbitohs.'
- Albert Kelly' - NRL Player for Gold Coast Titans.'
- Jonathan Wright - NRL' Player for Cronulla Sharks'.
- Beau Champion' - NRL Player for South Sydney Rabbitohs'.
- James Roberts - NRL Player for Gold Coast Titans.
- Shea Moylan' - NRL player for Brisbane Broncos & QLD Intrust Cup for Wynnum Manly Seagulls.'''
- Amos Roberts' - Retired NRL Player & Super League Player 2000 - 2012.'
- Paul Davis - Retired NRL Player who played for the Balmain Tigers 1992 - 1993.
- Darlene Johnson - Started her writer/director career with the 1996 short film Two Bob Mermaid and continued exploring themes of race, identity and perception mainly in documentaries from International EMMY Award-nominated Stolen Generations” to Stranger in my Skin and the “making-of” Phillip Noyce’s Rabbit-Proof Fence. Ten years later, Johnson made her second short, Crocodile Dreaming, and then made River of No Return, a documentary about the complexities of living in a remote Indigenous community in Northern Australia. She has produced documentaries for ABC-TV’s “Message Stick” series and is writing Bluey as part of the Screen Australia Springboard initiative.
- Milton Budge
- Steven Faulkner
- Robert Campbell Jnr
- Esther Quinlan
- John "Gurri" Kelly
- Anthony Flanders
- Alana Roberts
- Ellen Lockwood
- Gus Kelly
Rugby League Teams
- Dunghutti Broncos - 2007-2009
- Gimbisi Warriors - 2006
- Ngaku Warriors - 1982-
- Dunghutti Titans - Junior Rugby League
The first white settlers moved into the Region 5 years after the explorer John Oxley entered the Macleay River in 1818. Between 1830 and 1850 the Dunghutti put up a resistance to the settlers and several massacres resulted.
For the Dunghutti, Anaiwan and Biripi, the Great Eastern Ranges became a last refuge and a base for a desperate resistance to the loss of their traditional lands and way of life. For 25 years they fought an intermittent guerilla war, emerging from the rugged ranges and gorges in planned sorties, to scare off Sheep and fight the shepherds and stockmen encroaching on their land. Reprisals were severe and indiscriminate – over 20 massacres of Aboriginal people occurred throughout the Hastings, Manning and Macleay ranges over that period, usually including the deaths of women and children. On occasion the landscape bears the names of some of the slain, in spite of efforts to deny and forget, and some brave leaders are still remembered. Garibaldi, an imposing character, fought valiantly from the ranges in what is now the Oxley Wild Rivers National Park, but was killed with all his family group while asleep, in a dawn massacre. Garibaldi Rock now towers above the site where Garibaldi died. The Aboriginal resistance was brought to an end by the 1860s. Members of Aboriginal nations were gradually moved on to reserves, with the Birpai moved away from the Hastings River to the north and south. However they took knowledge with them, maintained their identity and survived, despite the odds stacked against them.
John Oxley who was the first European through the area when he passed near the Apsley Falls in September 1818. Major Archibald Clunes Innes, Commandant of Port Macquarie Penal Settlement, sent the first government gangs to penetrate the remote and inaccessible gorges and valleys in search of Australian red cedar (Toona ciliata) in c.1827. The cedar logs were hauled from the hillsides and floated down-river to Kempsey for loading on ships bound for Sydney.The cedar cutters were soon followed by pioneer cattle graziers who took up Crown leases to start properties such as Kunderang and Toorooka.
The earliest European settlement was recorded in 1827 when Captain A.C. Innes, the commandant at Port Macquarie, established a cedar party north of Euroka Creek on the Macleay River. The first land grants were surveyed on the east bank of the Macleay in 1835. Samuel Onions' grant of 802 acres was sold to Enoch William Rudder, a merchant from Birmingham who became Kempsey's first white settler. He surveyed the land for a private town which he named Kempsey as he found the countryside reminiscent of the valley of Kempsey in Worcestershire, England. Rudder Park, in East Kempsey, is the site of this first settler's home.
1835 The Dunghutti people of Mid north coast NSW was confined to 40 hectares of land on the Bellwood Reserve, near present day Kempsey. They previously owned 250,000 hectares
1841 Clement Hodgkinson explored the upper reaches of the Macleay Valley And said
"On the immediate banks of the Macleay River alone six distinct tribes besides several others near the sources of the river among the mountains. Each of them contain on an average from eighty to a hundred men and women, exclusive of children, but the whole body of the tribe never united on the same spot, unless on some important occasion they were more generally divided into small parties, Man, women and children often detached companies roamed over any part of the country within the prescribed limits of the main tribe to which they belong"
For much of the 19th century, following European settlement in the Macleay Valley region, Dunghutti people continued moving throughout the landscape with small groups settling at camp sites on the outskirts of European settlements for brief periods, then moving on again.
Areas such as Pelican Island and the two Fattorini Islands in the Macleay River near Kempsey were reserved specifically for Aboriginal communities and were regarded as refuges where large numbers of Dunghutti people could live relatively undisturbed (Neil 1972).
Farming on Fattorini Islands During the late 1800s, several Dunghutti families occupied Shark, Pelican and Fattorini islands. They cleared the land and cultivated corn.
The islands formed part of an unsupervised Aboriginal reserve that had been gazetted in 1885. By 1919 the islands were being farmed so efficiently that the Aborigines Protection Board Inspector advised against the islands' revocation.
However, in 1924 the Board decided that the residents on Fattorini Island would be relocated to nearby Pelican Island, and Fattorini Island's status as an Aboriginal reserve would be revoked. Later, Pelican Island's status was also revoked.
Many Aboriginal families from all three islands were forced to move to Kinchela Creek Station (Goodall 1996).
The Aborigines Protection Board's revocation of the island reserves and the flooding of the river both before and after the Fattorini Island's revocation forced more Aboriginal families to move off the islands.
The Aboriginal fringe camps at Green Hills was the major unofficial camp in the Macleay Valley. The Green Hills Dunghutti community survived a number of attempts by the Aborigines Protection Board to have it removed. During 1925, the Board and Kempsey Council tried on a number of occasions to force the 120 Aboriginal people to move off the land by issuing eviction and removal orders delivered by the police.At the same time, the community defied the Board's inspectors who were attempting to remove Aboriginal children to government institutions.
Following several failed attempts from the Australian Aboriginal Progressive Association (AAPA) and other groups to secure adequate land tenure for families at the camp, the Aborigines Protection Board moved the community from Green Hills, putting them under the control of the white manager at Burnt Bridge Reserve (Goodall 1996).
The impact of assimilation on the State education system in Kempsey eventually allowed the first Aboriginal pupils to attend Green Hill Public School in 1947. But, when white parents moved their children from Green Hill school and sent them to West Kempsey, the school became all-Aboriginal, Although policies of assimilation had eventually allowed Aboriginal children to attend public schools in the Kempsey area, Aboriginal children were still forcibly removed from their families.
In February 1965 The Freedom Ride as it came to be called covered 2300 kilometres of northwest and coastal New South Wales highlighting racial discrimination.The Freedom ride demonstrated at Kempsey swimming pool.
In 1967, when the nation voted overwhelmingly to count Aboriginals as part of the Australian population. Nationally, the 90.77 per cent yes vote was the highest in favour of a referendum question in our history. Kempsey voted 68 per cent yes (Australian Electoral Commission).
- Broome, Richard (2002). "Sands, David (Dave) (1926–1952)". Australian Dictionary of Biography 16. Melbourne University Press: National Centre of Biography, Australian National University. pp. 174–175.