The Turrbal are an Australian Aboriginal nation, descendants of the original owners and custodians of the region of present-day Brisbane, Queensland. The name primarily referred to the dialect they spoke, the tribe itself being alternatively called Mianjin/Meanjin.
Turrbal is one of 4 dialects of the Durubalic branch of the Pama-Nyungan languages. Turrbal was spoken from Gold Creek and Moggill, north as far as North Pine, and south to the Logan River. Tom Petrie, son of one of the founding families of the Brisbane area settlements, grew up among the Turrbal, and mastered the language and the contiguous dialects from an early age.
The Turrbal were a horde of the Jagera people whose traditional lands and hunting grounds, extended over some 1,300 square miles (3,400 km2) and lay around the Brisbane River, stretching from the Cleveland shore area of Moreton Bay, and running inland as far as the Great Dividing Range about Gatton; north to near Esk. The Turrbal horde itself was located specifically in what is now called the Brisbane CBD, the name for which was Mianjin. Neighboring Aboriginal nations include the Kabi and Wakka Wakka to the north, the Dalla to the northwest and the Ngugi of Bribie Island. Despite collective title to a stretch of land, the Turrbal like many tribes permitted private ownership of specific sections of land, down to recognizing personal possession of parts of a river or even of trees and shrubs. Petrie describes the situation in the following words:
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 bonyi (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.
In Turrbal thought, the origins of the division of the sexes was attributed to two distinct birds. Menfolk all came from the billing (a small house bat). Women in turn had their descent from a wamankan(night-hawk). Given their mythic function, they could not be eaten, but capturing and killing them was permitted.[a]
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. 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.
Many suburbs and places in Brisbane have names derived from Turrbal words. Woolloongabba is derived from either woolloon-capemm meaning "whirling water", or from woolloon-gabba meaning "fight talk place". Toowong is derived from tuwong, the onomatopoeic name for the Pacific koel. Bulimba means "place of the magpie-lark". Indooroopilly is derived from either nyindurupilli meaning "gully of leeches", or from yindurupilly meaning "gully of running water". Enoggera is a corruption of the words yauar-ngari meaning "song and dance".
Hunting and gathering economy
The Turrbal exploited a large range of local species of animals and insects as part of their daily cuisine. These may be divided into sea- and riverine food, mainland victuals, and vegetables.
Vegetables and fruit
- The Turrbal gathered the pencil yam (tarm) from scrub borders, where it was often found almost a metre underground.
- Shoots from the crowns of both (the cabbage-tree palm (binkar)) and the king palm (pikki) served as vegetables.
- Blechnum serrulatum, a swamp fern called bangwal was a delicacy found in abundance, and generally consumed as a bread-like sidedish with fish or meat. a freshwater rush called (yimbun) was also harvested and once prepared, tasted like arrowroot.
- The Moreton Bay chesnut (mai), a root called bundal in Turrbal but more widely known as cunjevoi, Canavalia Obtusifolia beans, (yugam) and zamia nuts, though poisonous, were rendered edible by long soaking after the nuts were cracked. They were then roasted. Mai was pounded into a cake, (as were yugam beans, and bundal) and the word was later used to denote European bread.
- geebung (dulandella) was relished and eaten raw, as were two varieties of wild fig, called respectively ngoa-nga and nyuta. white myrtle berries (midyim), located on sandy islands, like the dubbul berry, were much sought after as a sweet. dogwood gum (denna) was also highly prized.
- The breadfruit (winnam) was chewed and sucked.
- A variety of snakes were eaten: the carpet snake (kabul);[b] the black snake (tumgu); brown snake (kuralbang) and death-adder (mulunkun).
- Aside from lizards, two varieties of goanna were hunted, the larger one being called giwar, while the smaller variety was named barra. The echidna (kagarr), tortoises (binkin), turtle (bowaiya)[c] also formed part of their diet.
- Two varieties of kangaroo and possum were hunted, the groman or old man kangaroo and the murri, and the forest possum (kupi) and scrub possum (kappolla). Koala bears (dumbripi) were also highly prized.
- The large black flying squirrel (panko), the small grey squirrel (chibur), the native cat (mibur) were eaten, as was the flying fox (gramman) while the dingo (mirri) was not part of their diet, the pups being taken in order to be domesticated.
- Among the hunted avian species were the scrub turkey (wargun), the emu (ngurrun), the black swan (marutchi), native ducks (ngau'u), quail duwir, parrots (pillin) and cockatoos (kaiyar), the latter highly valued for the yellow topknots (billa billa) employed by men as a ceremonial adornment.
They often sought out goanna (magil) eggs, which could be found near ant nests in soft soil. The Turrbal would occasionally hunt marine animals, such as dugongs (yangon), porpoises (talobilla), tailor fish (punba), and mullet (andakal).
- Among the natives of Burnett, Mary and Dawson rivers, the common bat, deering, was the friend of all the men, while a small owl or night hawk, boorookapkap, was the friend of the women. T. Petrie reports that the blacks of Brisbane river believe that the bat, there called billing, made all their menfolk, and that the wamankan, or night hawk, made the women. In 1834, Rev L. E. Threlkeld reported that the tribe at Lake Macquarie, New South Wales, had a belief that a certain small bird was the first maker of women, and that the bat was venerated on the same grounds by the men. J. Dawson in 1881, describing the customs and beliefs of the Aborigines of western Victoria, states that the common bat belongs to the men, and the fern owl to the women.'
- the word lies behind the Queensland toponym, Caboolture,'place of many carpet snakes'
- Tortoises were associated with an area of Brisbane, now called New Farm and formerly called binkinba (place of the land tortoise)
- Dixon 2002, p. xxxiv.
- Petrie & Petrie 1904, pp. 4–5.
- Tindale 1974.
- Connors 2015, p. 21.
- Petrie & Petrie 1904, p. 117.
- Petrie & Petrie 1904, p. 62.
- Mathews 1910, p. 47.
- Evans 1992, p. 12.
- Turrbal Association 1998.
- Watson 1944.
- Petrie & Petrie 1904, p. 93.
- Petrie & Petrie 1904, p. 92.
- Petrie & Petrie 1904, pp. 92–93.
- Petrie & Petrie 1904, pp. 93–94.
- Petrie & Petrie 1904, p. 94.
- Petrie & Petrie 1904, p. 80.
- Petrie & Petrie 1904, p. 81.
- Petrie & Petrie 1904, p. 82.
- Petrie & Petrie 1904, pp. 82–83.
- Petrie & Petrie 1904, p. 85.
- Petrie & Petrie 1904, p. 86.
- Petrie & Petrie 1904, p. 88.
- Petrie & Petrie 1904, pp. 88–89.
- Petrie & Petrie 1904, pp. 90–92.
- Petrie & Petrie 1904, pp. 65–90.
- Connors, Libby (2015). Warrior: A legendary leader's dramatic life and violent death on the colonial frontier. Allen & Unwin. ISBN 978-1-760-11048-2.
- Dixon, Robert M. W. (2002). Australian Languages: Their Nature and Development. Volume 1. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-47378-1.
- Evans, Raymond (1992). "The mogwi take mi-an-jin:Race relations and the Moreton Bay penal settlement 1824-42". In Fisher, Rod. Brisbane: The Aboriginal presence, 1824-1860. The Brisbane History Group Papers. pp. 7–30.
- "History of Woolloongabba". ourbrisbane.com. Archived from the original on 7 June 2011. Retrieved 7 August 2014.
- Mathews, R. H. (1910). "Die Bundandaba-Zeremonie in Queensland' (The Bundandaba Ceremony of Initiation in Queensland)". 40. Mitteilungen der Anthropologischen Gesellschaft: 44–47.
- Petrie, Tom; Petrie, Constance Campbell (1904). Tom Petrie's reminiscences of early Queensland (PDF). Brisbane: Watson, Ferguson & Co.
- "Place name details: Bulimba (entry 42567)". Queensland Place Names. Queensland Government. Retrieved 13 September 2015.
- "Place name details: Enoggera (entry 41374)". Queensland Place Names. Queensland Government. Retrieved 13 September 2015.
- "Place name details: Indooroopilly (entry 16663)". Queensland Place Names. Queensland Government. Retrieved 13 September 2015.
- "Place name details: Toowong (entry 47847)". Queensland Place Names. Queensland Government. Retrieved 13 September 2015.
- "Place name details: Woolloongabba (entry 44358)". Queensland Place Names. Queensland Government. Retrieved 13 September 2015.
- Steele, John Gladstone (2015). Aboriginal Pathways: in Southeast Queensland and the Richmond River. University of Queensland Press. ISBN 978-0-702-25742-1.
- Tindale, Norman (1974). Aboriginal Tribes of Australia, Jagara (QLD). Australian National University Press.
- Turrbal Association (1998). An Indigenous History of Waterworks Road, Brisbane. Ann Wallin & Associates.
- Watson, Frederick James (1944). Vocabularies of Four Representative Tribes of South Eastern Queensland. Brisbane: Royal Geographical Society of Australasia.