From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
This article is for the Indigenous Australian group. For their language, see Turrbal language.

The Turrbal are an Australian Aboriginal nation who owned and lived in the region of present-day Brisbane before European colonization of the area. They were a small group who lived within the larger nation of Jagera in the south of the North Pine River, west of Moreton Bay and Tingalpa Creek, north of the Logan River, and east of Moggill Creek area.[1][2] The Jagera name for the Brisbane region is Meanjin.[3]

Neighboring Aboriginal nations include the Kabi, the Wakka Wakka, the Jagera, the Koobenpul, and the Ngugi.


Many Turrbal people lived along the Brisbane River (Maiwah [4] [5] ), particularly along present-day Coronation Drive. This large populace attracted the first European settlers to the area, aborting their previous settlement at Redcliffe.[3][6]

A ceremonial ring in Toowong is believed to be where the Regatta Hotel is built today.[3]

The Turrbal's tracks form the basis of many modern-day roads. Waterworks Road from Ashgrove is built on a Turrbal track that leads to Mount Coot-tha. Turrbal people would go to Mount Coot-tha to collect honey (ku-ta) from the bees there; it is the place of the honey-bee dreaming.[7] Similarly, Old Northern Road from Everton Hills is built on a Turrbal track that led to the site of a triennial Bunya feast in neighboring Wakka Wakka country.[3]

Many suburbs and places in Brisbane have names derived from Turrbal words. Woolloongabba is derived from either woolloon-capemm meaning "whirling water",[8] or from woolloon-gabba meaning "fight talk place".[9] Toowong is derived from tuwong, the onomatopoeic name for the Pacific koel.[10] Bulimba means "place of the magpie-lark".[11] Indooroopilly is derived from either nyindurupilli meaning "gully of leeches", or from yindurupilly meaning "gully of running water".[12] Enoggera is a corruption of the words yauar-ngari meaning "song and dance".[13][14]

Culture and custom[edit]

Thomas Petrie was a Scottish Australian explorer who grew up alongside Turrbal children, and learned to speak Turrbal. His memoirs describe the Turrbal people's integrity, generosity, friendliness and physical prowess. Petrie said the Turrbal welcomed visitors into their camp by sitting down together, looking at each other, and then crying and wailing together. Petrie wrote of the Turrbal's property customs:[2]

Each tribe had its own boundary, which was well known, and none went to hunt, etc., on another's property without an invitation, unless they knew they would be welcome, and sent special messengers to announce their arrival. The Turrbal or Brisbane tribe owned the country as far north as North Pine, south to the Logan, and inland to Moggill Creek. This tribe all spoke the same language, but, of course, was divided up into different lots, who belonged some to North Pine, some to Brisbane, and so on. These lots had their own little boundaries. Though the land belonged to the whole tribe, the head men often spoke of it as theirs. The tribe in general owned the animals and birds on the ground, also roots and nests, but certain men and women owned different fruit or flower-trees and shrubs. For instance, a man could own a bon-yi (Araucaria bidwilli) tree, and a woman a minti (Banksia amula), dulandella (Persoonia Sp.), midyim (Myrtus tenuifolia), or dakkabin (Xanthorrhoea aborea) tree. Then a man sometimes owned a portion of the river which was a good fishing spot, and no one else could fish there without his permission.

Food sources[edit]

The Turrbal often sought goanna (magil) eggs, which could be found near ant nests in soft soil. They would hunt for echnidnas (kaggarr) by tracking their scratch marks in the ground; as well as providing food, the kaggarr's spines would sometimes be used for piercing cloth. The Turrbal would catch land tortoises (binkin) in the swamps of New Farm with nets or by hand. The tortoises were cooked whole lying on their backs, with the shell acting as a bowl. Due to the presence of binkin, the Turrbal called New Farm Binkenba. This name was later corrupted and given to Pinkenba, which is further down the river. The Turrball would hunt turtles (bowaiya) at Redcliffe on canoes, by diving in to catch them by hand. The Turrbal would occasionally hunt other marine animals, such as dugongs (yangon), porpoises (talobilla), tailor fish (punba), and mullet (andakal).[2]


  1. ^ "Map showing extent of area registered as a Cultural Heritage Body by the Turrbal Association" (PDF). Queensland Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Multicultural Affairs. Retrieved 7 August 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c Petrie, C. C.; Petrie, T. (January 1975). Tom Petrie's Reminiscences of Early Queensland. Hawthorn, Victoria: Lloyd O'Neil Pty Ltd. ISBN 9780855583729. Retrieved 7 August 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Turrbal Aboriginal Nation - History". Daki Budtcha Records. Retrieved 7 August 2014. 
  4. ^ Watego, Leesa. "Australian Indigenous Heritage of Everton Park". Retrieved 10 August 2014. 
  5. ^ "Brisbane's Local Aborigines: The Turrbal People" (PDF). Sandgate State School. Retrieved 10 August 2014. 
  6. ^ "Aborginal Culture in Brisbane". Visit Brisbane. Retrieved 7 August 2014. 
  7. ^ Turrbal Association (1998). An Indigenous History of Waterworks Road, Brisbane. Ann Wallin & Associates. 
  8. ^ "Place name details: Woolloongabba (entry 44358)". Queensland Place Names. Queensland Government. Retrieved 13 September 2015. 
  9. ^ "History of Woolloongabba". ourbrisbane.com. Archived from the original on 7 June 2011. Retrieved 7 August 2014. 
  10. ^ "Place name details: Toowong (entry 47847)". Queensland Place Names. Queensland Government. Retrieved 13 September 2015. 
  11. ^ "Place name details: Bulimba (entry 42567)". Queensland Place Names. Queensland Government. Retrieved 13 September 2015. 
  12. ^ "Place name details: Indooroopilly (entry 16663)". Queensland Place Names. Queensland Government. Retrieved 13 September 2015. 
  13. ^ "Place name details: Enoggera (entry 41374)". Queensland Place Names. Queensland Government. Retrieved 13 September 2015. 
  14. ^ Watson, Frederick James (1944). Vocabularies of Four Representative Tribes of South Eastern Queensland. Brisbane: Royal Geographical Society of Australasia.