The Kamilaroi or "Gamilaroi" are an Indigenous Australian Koori people who are from the area which extended from around Singleton in the Hunter Valley through to the Warrumbungle Mountains in the west and up through the present-day centres of Quirindi, Tamworth, Narrabri, Walgett, Moree, Lightning Ridge and Mungindi in New South Wales, to Nindigully in south west Queensland. The Kamilaroi is one of the four largest indigenous nations in Australia. The Kamilaroi language is classified in the Pama–Nyungan family of Australian languages. The Kamilaroi Highway is named after them, Sydney Ferries Limited's vehicular ferry "Kamilaroi" (1901–1933) was also named after them and a variety of Durum wheat widely grown in their territory today is named after the Kamilaroi.
The Kamilaroi were hunters and gatherers with a band-level social organization. Important vegetable foods were yams and other roots, as well as a sterculia grain, which was made into a bread. Insect larvae, frogs, and eggs of several different animals were also gathered. Various birds, kangaroos, emus, iguanas, opossums, echidnas, and bandicoots were among the important animals hunted. Dingo pups were regarded as a delicacy. Fish were also consumed, as were crayfish, mussels, and shrimp. Men typically hunted, cleaned, and prepared the game for cooking. Women did the actual cooking, in addition to fishing and gathering. Individual Kamilaroi did not eat animals that were their totems.
The Kamilaroi or "Gomilaroi" from the word Kamil or Kumil meaning main soul, are a large nation of Aborigines consisting of many tribes. The Kamilaroi are the second largest Aboriginal nation on the eastern side of Australia, and the language is known as Gamilaraay. The nation was made up of many smaller family groups who had their own parcels of land to sustain them. One of the great Kings of this tribe was ‘Red Chief’ who is buried near Gunnedah. The last link with tribal law and custom in Mungindi would be the forbear of the present Cubby family, who was the last known King in the tribe. The Kamilaroi were regarded as fierce warriors and there is ample evidence of inter tribal warfare. The Northern Kamilaroi people have a strong cultural connection with the Bigambul People and the tribes met regularly for joint ceremonies at Boobera Lagoon near the present day town of Goondiwindi.
Kamilaroi tradition includes Baiame, the ancestor or patron god. The Baiame story tells how Baiame came down from the sky to the land, and created rivers, mountains, and forests. He then gave the people their laws of life, traditions, songs, and culture. He also created the first initiation site. This is known as a bora; a place where boys were initiated into manhood. When he had finished, he returned to the sky, and people called him the Sky Hero or All Father or Sky Father. He is said to be married to Birrahgnooloo (Birran-gnulu), who is often identified as an emu, and with whom he has a son Daramulum (Dharramalan). In other stories Daramulum is said to be brother to Baiame. It was forbidden to mention or talk about the name of Baiame publicly. Women were not allowed to see drawings of Baiame nor approach Baiame sites, which are often male initiation sites (boras). In rock paintings Baiame is often depicted as a human figure with a large head-dress or hairstyle, with lines of footsteps nearby. He is always painted in front view; Daramulum is drawn in profile. Baiame is often shown with internal decorations such as waistbands, vertical lines running down the body, bands and dots.
Notable Kamilaroi People
- George Rose - NRL player for Manly Sea Eagles
- Jonathan Wright - NRL player for Cronulla Sutherland Sharks
- Greg Bird - NRL player for Gold Coast Titans
- Ben Jones - NRL player for Sydney Roosters in 2013 via their reserve grade team Newtown Jets.
- Michael Lett - Currently plays for the Illawarra Cutters in the NSW Cup
- Dale Shearer - Former Queensland and Australian Rugby League player
- Brad Tighe - NRL PLayer for Penrith Panthers
- Luke Walsh - NRL PLayer for Penrith Panthers
- Adam Giles, Chief Minister of the Northern Territory
- Jason Gillespie - Australian Test cricketer
- Roger Knox - Country music singer known as "The Koori King of Country"
- Mundara Koorang - Artist, designer, teacher, elder, actor, and author
- Con Colleano - tightrope walker
- Ray Martin - TV Presenter
Various alternative spellings exist for Kamilaroi, such as Gomeroi, Gamilaroi, Gumillaroy, and Comelroy, all of which are attempts at transliteration to the Latin alphabet. Nowadays, the term "Gomeroi", meaning One of the Rising Sun.