The First Residents
White Settlement in the Mackay District there were at least 6 main aboriginal
tribal groupings in region.
Bridgman who established the first Aboriginal Reserve on land between Bakers
Creek and Sandy Creek in 1871 was the first to describe the tribal groups around
the Mackay Area.
The Yuipera’s territory was in the town area, the Kungulburra
were established between Port Mackay and Broadsound; Toolginburra were
located west of the coastal strip in land over the Connors Range and the Googaburra
were the tribe that inhabited the Islands off the coast.
group of Mackay Tribal Aborigines late 1800s.
(Mackay Historical Society Archive No. 85-327)
research namely by the late Norman Tindale in the middle part of the 1900’s,
described the groups as the following Juipera, Wiri, Biria, Jangga,
Barada which the names they are commonly recognised by today.
boundaries tended to follow natural features such as rivers and mountain ranges,
things that were easy to recognise, as it was to invite swift and fatal
retribution for crossing the boundaries.
Juipera people were the most dominant in the area around Mackay City on
the coast from St. Helens to Cape Palmerston and inland to the Connor’s Range.
was estimated that in 1860 each of the tribes would have numbered about 500
persons made up of several families.
After 40,000 years, the precise number that a tribal area could support
had been established and was strictly observed.
is not known how the boundaries were established, however early researchers
point out that only enough country was claimed to support the tribe.
In rich areas such as rainforest or coastal lowlands, the tribal areas
were smaller than in the open country of the inland. Social mixing of the tribes
was not common.
Mandurana now known more commonly as “The Leap” located about
20km’s north of Mackay was the scene of a sad tale of the conflict between the
early white settlers and the aboriginals.
have been many conflicting stories of what happened but the story goes somewhat
Early in 1867, John
Greenwood Barnes was speared in the arm after an aboriginal attack.
Barnes resided at Cremorne, which was a ceremonial ground for the Juipera,
and it appears he was harassed on many occasions not surprisingly for
trespassing on sacred ground. Due
to the attack on Barnes, a contingent on Native Mounted Police (NMP) were active
in the ‘dispersal’ of many aborigines on the North Side of the Pioneer
to folklore a local aboriginal woman with her baby in her arms leapt from the
western escarpment of Mt. Mandurana to her death, trying to escape the pursuing
NMP, however the baby survived. There
are conflicting versions of the story in that the woman was thrown over the
cliff by the NMP, or she committed suicide as the child was a half-caste child
and she was a victim of domestic violence.
We may however never know the real story.
The child was adopted by the family of James Ready, an early settler of the area and was baptised ‘Johanna’ on 22 July 1867. Johanna married an Englishman George Howes and had three children. It is unknown exactly what happened to Johanna but it appears she died on 25 December 1897 and was buried in the Mackay Cemetery.
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created 12 August 2004.
last updated 09 August, 2006 .
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