Gubbi Gubbi people

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Gubbi Gubbi
Two Representative Tribes of Queensland - A Native of the Kabi Tribe.jpg
Regions with significant populations
South East Queensland

The Gubbi Gubbi, also written Kabi Kabi, people are an Indigenous Australian people native to southeastern Queensland. They are now classified as one of several Murri language groups in Queensland.


Gubbi Gubbi was first described by the Reverend William Ridley on the basis of notes taken from an interview with James Davis in 1855, who lived among the Ginginbara clan and called it Dippil,[1] a generic denominator of several tribes speaking similar dialects to the Gubbi Gubbi.[2]


Norman Tindale situated the Gubbi Gubbi as an inland tribe of the Wide Bay–Burnett area, whose lands extended over 3,700 square miles (9,600 km2) and lay west of Maryborough. The northern borders ran as far as Childers and Hervey Bay. On the south, they approached the headwaters of the Mary River and Cooroy. Westwards, they reached as far as the Coast Ranges and Kilkivan.[2] Gubbi Gubbi country is currently located between Pumicestone Road, near Caboolture in the south, through to Childers in the north.

History of contact[edit]

John Mathew's 1910 map of the country of the Kabi and Wakka peoples.

Some Gubbi Gubbi died in the mass poisoning of upwards of 60 Aborigines on the Kilcoy run in 1842.[3] A further 50-60 are said to have been killed by food laced with arsenic at Whiteside Station in April 1847.[4] As colonial entrepreneurs pushed into their territory to establish pastoral stations, they together with the Butchulla set up a fierce resistance: from 1847 to 1853, 28 squatters and their shepherds were killed.[5] In June 1849 two youths, the Pegg brothers, were speared on the property while herding sheep. Gregory Blaxland, the 7th son of the eponymous explorer Gregory Blaxland took vengeance, heading a vigilante posse of some 50 squatters and station hands and, at Bingera, ambushed a group of 100 sleeping myalls of the 'Gin gin tribe' who are usually identified now as the Gubbi Gubbi.[6] They had feasted on stolen sheep. Marksmen picked off many, even those fleeing by diving into the Burnett River. The slaughter was extensive, and the bones of many of the dead were uncovered on the site many decades later.[7][8][9] Blaxland was in turn killed in a payback action sometime in July–August 1850. His death was revenged in a further large-scaled massacre of tribes in the area.[a]

The escaped convict James Davis lived among other tribes, the Gubbi Gubbi John Mathew, a clergyman turned anthropologist, also spent 5 years with them at Manumbar and mastered their language. He described their society in a 1910 monograph, Two Representative Tribes of Queensland.[11][12]

Culture and people[edit]

The Queensland lungfish was native to Gubbi Gubbi waters and the species fell under a taboo among them, forbidding its consumption. It was known in their language as 'dala'.[13]

Native title[edit]

The descendants of the Gubbi Gubbi made a application for native title on the 31 of May in 2013.[14]

Notable Gubbi Gubbi people[edit]

Natives of Yabber, Kabi Tribe

Alternative names[edit]

  • Kabi.
  • Cabbee.
  • Karbi.
  • Karabi.
  • Carbycarbery.
  • Kabbi, Kahby, Carby.
  • Gabigabi.
  • Dippil. (generic descriptor also for adjacent several tribes speaking similar languages)
  • Dipple.
  • Maiba. (river chestnut people)
  • Dundu:ra.
  • Doondoora, Dundubara, Doondooburra. (Hervey Bay people)
  • Dowarburra. (horde north of Kilkivan).[15]


  1. ^ A force was organized among all these settlers and their employees, and they set out on their mission of revenge guided by the friendly gin already referred to. The fugitive blacks were tracked down the Burnett River, where they had foregathered at a place now called Paddy's Island, not far from the mouth of the river. It was estimated by the white party that there were about a thousand blacks congregated here when the attack was made, and the result was the blacks suffered severely. The avenging whites were determined to end the antagonistic blacks' attitude towards their settlements. It is not known how many blacks were killed in this fight, but they must have numbered hundreds; but it is also known that a large number escaped into the Wongarra scrub on the south side of the river. This attack really broke the power of the blacks in this region. They continued to be hostile often in individual cases, but were never afterwards a serious menace.[10]


  1. ^ Steele 2015, p. 230.
  2. ^ a b Tindale 1974.
  3. ^ Greer 2014, p. 134.
  4. ^ Bottoms 2013, p. 21.
  5. ^ Bottoms 2013, p. 25.
  6. ^ Maynard & Haskins 2016, p. 99.
  7. ^ Reid 2006, p. 16.
  8. ^ Bottoms 2013, pp. 25–26.
  9. ^ Laurie 1952, pp. 709–717.
  10. ^ Laurie 1952, p. 713.
  11. ^ Mathews 2007, p. 10.
  12. ^ Prentis 1998, pp. 62–63.
  13. ^ Kind 2016, p. 85.
  14. ^ NNTT 2013.
  15. ^ Tindale 1974, p. 172.


External links[edit]