Ngunawal Stories of Lake George

A vision splendid, a place filled with trees and koalas, while the rivers teamed with fish and platypus. From the historical records this is what Bungendore would have looked like to the early European settlers who arrived in 1820. It was the country of the Ngunawal people and to this day a culturally significant place for their descendants.

This workshop was about stories of past times, honouring Aboriginal and early European history, while learning the importance of the fragmented vegetation that remains. The guest speakers were Wally Bell, Karen Williams and Jasmyn Lynch.

Wally Bell is a Ngunawal man from the Yharr clan group and a Traditional Custodian of the Ngunawal. Wally welcomed us to his country and called upon the spirits to guide and protect us during our visit to Day’s Hill Reserve in Bungendore. Wally’s story telling about the local area was moving. He talked about Budjabulya the creator and water spirit who lives in Lake Ngungara (renamed Lake George). Ngunawal people believe that since the beginning of time this spirit has nurtured the Ngunawal people and created the lakes, rivers, valleys, people, animal and plants.

Wally talked about the importance of Mother Earth to him and how we can all play an important role in restoring and healing the land. Wally’s advice is to sit, observe and listen to the land on which you live. Respect it and look after it because land is a gift.

Wally also emphasised the importance of scar trees and how they were used as directional markers. Often they were located up high so people could see them from a distance.

We looked at some Aboriginal stone artifacts and asked a lot of questions about what to look out for on our own properties. Wally told us that Aboriginal artifacts retain the spirit of the person who made them and must be left in the location where they are found.

Karen Williams shared her knowledge of the early European history of the area, including a story about the first explorer in 1820, Joseph Wild. Jasmyn Lynch talked about the fragmented native vegetation that remains, including nationally threatened ecosystems such as the Temperate Grassland of the Southern Highlands, White Box, Yellow Box and Blakely’s Red Gum Woodland.

You can download a copy of the handout prepared by the speakers below. The notes include a comprehensive list of online resources.

The following links contain more information about the Aboriginal history and culture of the Canberra Region.

Buru Ngunawal Aboriginal Corporation

Thunderstone Aboriginal Corporation

Ngunawal Cultural Walk and Talk Workshop Summary

This project was made possible with funding from the Australian Government through the National Landcare Program.