Girai wurrung

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Girai Wurrung
Regions with significant populations
Girai Wurrung, English
Australian Aboriginal mythology, Christianity
Related ethnic groups
Gulidjan, Djargurd Wurrung, Djab Wurrung and Wada wurrung
see List of Indigenous Australian group names
Kaarwin Kuunawarn (hissing swan) was the clan-head of the Gunaward gundidj clan of the Girai Wurrung of Lake Connewarren, west of Mortlake.

The Girai wurrung are Indigenous Australian people who traditionally occupied the territory between Mount Emu Creek and the Hopkins River up to Mount Hamilton, and the Western Otways from the Gellibrand River to the Hopkins River. The territory was bordered by the Djab wurrung and Wada wurrung in the north, the Dhauwurd wurrung in the west, and the Djargurd Wurrung, Gulidjan and Gadubanud in the east. The Framlingham Aboriginal Reserve was established in Girai wurrung territory bordering the Gunditjmara (Dhauwurd wurrung) people.[1]

Clan System[edit]

The Girai wurrung people had 21 clans with a matrilineally based descent system based on the Gabadj (Black Cockatoo) and Guragidj (White Cockatoo) moieties.[2] The clans gathered with the Djab wurrung, Dhauwurd wurrung and Wada wurrung peoples to harvest eels at Lake Bolac. They also met at Mirraewuae swamp near Hexham to hunt emus and other game and to conduct business.[1]


European settlement of the area began in 1838 and in the early 1840s the Girai wurrung engaged in a sustained guerilla war with the encroaching pastoralists. Dispossession from their land led to starvation and the theft of sheep resulted in murderous reprisals.[1]

Assistant Aboriginal Protector Charles Sievwright was successful in bringing charges against G.S. Bolden for killing 2 Gunawurd gundidj people on 27 October 1841, but Supreme Court Judge Willis acquitted Bolden in December 1841 of the charges and spoke of the right of squatter licencees to turn anyone off their property. This decision was made despite the conditional nature of the squatter's licence by the Government to allow for aboriginal access for hunting and traditional use.[1]

During 1841 Assistant Protector CW Sievwright set up headquarters at two locations: Lake Keilambete and Lake Terang, but these were only temporary and Sievwright was ordered by Robinson to move to Mount Rouse in February 1842.[1]

When Framlingham Aboriginal Reserve was occupied in 1865 near Warrnambool many of the surviving members of the Girai wurrung joined the reserve along with surviving Djargurd wurrung who were forcibly relocated and Gunditjmara from Warrnambool. Gunditjmara from Portland and Lake Condah refused to settle at Framlingham, leading to the establishment of Lake Condah reserve in 1869.[1]

Historian Ian Clark asserts that from 1868 the history of the Girai wurrung becomes the history of Framlingham.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Ian D. Clark, pp125-133, Scars on the Landscape. A Register of Massacre sites in Western Victoria 1803-1859, Aboriginal Studies Press, 1995 ISBN 0-85575-281-5
  2. ^ Aboriginal heritage - Girai/Kirai Wurrung culture and history, Aboriginal heritage in Central South-west Victoria. Accessed 29 September 2009