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Map of Victorian Aborigines language territories

The Gadubanud (Katabanut) people occupied the rainforest plateau and rugged coastline of Cape Otway in Western Victoria covering the present towns of Lorne and Apollo Bay. The Gellibrand and Barwon Rivers are likely territorial borders with the Wada wurrung to the north east, Gulidjan to the north and Girai Wurrung to the west. Gadubanud means literally the King Parrot people. There has been no documented interaction with the Gadubanud since 1846,.[1] although some may have found refuge at the Weslayan mission station at Birregurra and later the Framlingham mission station. Today the Gunditjmara people are the traditional custodians of Gadubanud lands, although there are Aboriginal people in the area today who trace their ancestry to the Gudabanud.[2]


It is known that the Gadubanud people traded spear wood for Mount William green stone mined by the Wurundjeri when tribes from across Victoria met at traditional ceremonies at Mount Noorat, Mount Napier and Gariwerd.[3] According to Clark "Ethnohistoric and linguistic information on the people of the Cape Otway Ranges is very thin."

Cape Otway has many middens which provide an indication of the varied diet of the Gadubanud. Fragments found in midderns include turban shells, abalone, periwinkle, elephant fish, chiton, beaked mussel and limpets. It is known that seals, cape barren geese, eels and ducks were also eaten, along with New Zealand spinach, tubers and berries. The Gadubanud made bark canoes for use in the rivers, lakes, estuaries and along the coast. Records from sailing ships reported Aboriginal people sailing close to shore in this region.[3]

During the 1830s Gadubanud successfully avoided interactions with European settlers. Early squatters thought the Otways were uninhabited. At least five clans are recorded including Bangura gundidj, Guringid gundidj, Ngalla gundidj, Ngarowurd gundidj and Yan Yan Gurt clan. The Gadubanud were considered mainmait (wild) by neighbouring language groups the Wada Wurrung and Girai Wurring.[4]


Little linguistic material has been recorded for the Gadubanud language. A connection with the Gulidjan to their north is suggested in the literature. The language was first identified by James Dawson in 1881 and means King Parrot language[1][5]


Chief Protector George Augustus Robinson on his trip to Port Fairy in 1842 met three Gadubanud people when he visited the mouth of the Hopkins River. From this interaction some clan information and territorial boundaries are recorded. In 1842 Gadubanud robbed an outstation for food and blankets.[1]

Superintendent Charles La Trobe made three expeditions to reach Cape Otway, and on his third attempt in March 1846 came upon seven Gaduband men and women in the Aire valley.[1]

Blanket Bay massacre[edit]

Later in 1846 George D Smythe was contracted to survey the Otways. One of his surveying party, Conroy, was murdered by a party of Gadubanud, although there are no details on whether they may have been provoked in some way. Smythe returned to Melbourne to organise a retaliatory expedition which took place in August 1846. The party, which included several Wada Wurrung people, came across seven Gadubanud at the mouth of the Aire River and at Blanket Bay and attacked and killed them. A Report of this massacre was published in the Argus of 1 September 1846.[1]

Ian Clark also reports that a number of further accounts have distorted the massacre by including rape and inflating the number killed, or attributing the attack to a detachment of Native Police Corps led by Foster Fyans.[1]

One such story is by Aldo Massola who detailed the following account:

"In 1848 one of two survivors, a woman who then lived in Warrnambool, told the story:One of the white men had interfered with a lubra, and her husband had killed the aggressor. The Black Police had come shortly after and had shot down indiscriminately the whole of her group, about twenty men, women and children. She and another lubra were only slightly wounded, and hid themselves in the scrub until the attackers left the scene of the massacre. As far as she knew they were the only survivors."[6]

According to Clark, no more recorded interactions occurred after 1846 between the Gadubanud and European settlers.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Ian D. Clark, pp119-123, Scars on the Landscape. A Register of Massacre sites in Western Victoria 1803-1859, Aboriginal Studies Press, 1995 ISBN 0-85575-281-5
  2. ^ The Gudabanud, Speaking of the Otways website. Accessed December 15, 2008
  3. ^ a b Parks Victoria, Great Ocean Walk Aboriginal Connections, Great Ocean Walk website, Accessed December 14, 2008
  4. ^ Parks Victoria, Aboriginal Cultural Values, OTWAYS eFORUM INFORMATION SHEET. Accessed December 14, 2008
  5. ^ Gadubanud language, Victorian Aboriginal Languages Directory. Accessed December 14, 2008
  6. ^ Aldo Massola, p32, Journey to Aboriginal Victoria, Rigby, 1969 as quoted by Ian D. Clark, pp122-123, Scars on the Landscape. A Register of Massacre sites in Western Victoria 1803-1859, Aboriginal Studies Press, 1995 ISBN 0-85575-281-5