Kgu'lulu - Lands of Mystery


There are many mysteries in this ancient land of Australia and the great holes of Kgu’lulu are one of those. In the “mythical” legend of Gympie and its “yellow stones”, we are told that there were once ten great lakes joined together to form a great waterway stretching from Noosa in the south to Tin Can Bay (or Maryborough) in the north and westwards towards the City of Gympie today. Only six of these ancient lakes exist today – Lakes Poona, Coolamara, Como, Cooloola, Cootharaba and Cooroiba.

Geological information available today confirms that the Cooloola National Park region east of Gympie was at one time, a great system of lakes stretching to the north and south as claimed by the legend. Evidence of those unique lakes is still visible particularly from aerial views and new map productions of the region – those in the north are solely comprised of fresh water while those closer to the Noosa region are of salt composition. These remaining lake systems form ecological habitats for flora, fauna, fish, crustaceans, and sea bird colonies along the Noosa River.

These coastal wetlands and range-forest areas extended from east of Gympie City to Fraser's Island, Tin Can Bay, Rainbow Beach, Double Island Point, Noosa and inland to the coastal ranges at the source of both the Noosa and Mary Rivers and their tributaries. To the north of these coastal lands lay the traditional territories of the Bat'ja: Bat’jala peoples from Maryborough and Fraser’s Island who had a different language dialect and versions of cultural belief to that of the Ka’bi peoples.

The great lake systems and waterways were once part of a land region the original natives referred to in their folkloric legends as the mysterious “land of Dha’muri”. This was a land of strange peoples, strange constructions and places where “strangers” from “over the sky” appeared. The “land of Dha’muri” stretched inland as far as the City of Gympie today.

As far as it can be established, the only known European pioneer recordings list the original ten Ka’bi clans occupying the lands east of Gympie towards the Cooloola National Park-Tin Can Bay-Noosa-Nambour regions as the Dhunga'bira Spear Fishermen of the Kauri Creek-Tin Can Bay Straits region; the Dhulin'gi Shell peoples of the Tin Can Bay northern inlet region; the Dham'buri/'bari Shellfish peoples of Rainbow Beach and southern Fraser’s Island region; the Dha'kgulu Swan peoples of the Double Island Point region; the Dhu'mirri Trap Hunters of the upper Noosa River region; the Dhu'pirri Net Makers/Fishermen of the Teewah-North Shore region near Noosa; the Dhi'lumi “whispering” people (Negritos) of the Kin Kin hinterland range regions; the Dhi'langi Clay Makers of the Pomona-Cooroy region; the Dhim'bari Drum Makers of the Tewantin-Noosa-Weiba region; and the Dhu'danga Canoe peoples of the Eumundi-Yandina-Nambour-Maroochy region.

In these “new lands” of Kgululu, the Ka’bi speaking peoples told many stories of their daily life and hazards of existence in their territorial lands north, south and west. The following is a graphic extract of an incident at Fraser's Island recorded by one pioneer in July 1862.

"Today, I was witness to a great tragedy. I observed from my point of standing on the beach sands, three families on their way to the island with a dead relative. They had been presumptious of their skills in crossing the waters which had assumed the position of the ebb some short period before their arrival. There was an altercation between the groups as they made haste with the crossing. The tragedy occurred about mid-stream when several craft came into conflict with each other and overturned. There was much confusion in the waters as I became witness to the vicious attack by several shark. The bodies of the dead disappeared into the waters. The craft and clan members were taken by the sea also. Of 53 members from the groups to which I had taken count, only 17 returned to my shores - the women and children lost in the calamity."

Another extract reports cannibalism.

"Today, I learned that the act of cannibalism was still practised by some Dham'bari (a clan occupying the southern section) on the island, but then only on those killed in battle, by accident, or (through punishment?). These were healthy ones and good to eat. The Ba'tja (a dominant native clan occupying the central section of Fraser's Island) I am told, perform such rituals also. The Ngu'lu (a fiercely territorial native clan from the northern section) were bad they stressed. They would seek out such flesh from any unfortunate who should be encountered in their way - so they said."

This extract refers to an ancient wreck.

"We came across an ancient wreck near-covered by sands, and bearing signs of great age - the carvings and its design is none known by me. The timbers had wrotted somewhat, and I estimate it will soon be taken by the sea and not seen again. The Ba'tja (native clans in the region) said the brown-skinned "yellow hairs" who had great strength, built it after the "wind spirit dugouts" came in from the place of stones inland. They were taken away by the great winds.”

“These strange people it seems, tried to flee the island, but the sea demons turned it back onto the sands - and there it remained. This was a very long time ago when the lands shook and the (islands?) were made by the earth spirits. Many peoples lived along the shores and in the lands around - but not at Dha'mu'ri for this is where the Gods of the Seas (or Skies) came down to the waters in their shiney cloud (canoes?) and (sailed?) the waters in their (yellow?) and feathered skins.”

“The natives indicated that they were told by the Na'tja (old spirit men?) that these people spoke the language of the Gods. They made strange (paintings?) on the rocks. They angered the Earth Spirits so much that they left for the skies when the Earth Spirits shook the lands and swallowed up all the waters."

There are many other strange native references to ancients, their crafts, and their activities throughout the Kgu'lu'lu lands - and of what became of them including those “who came from over the waters wearing yellow stones from their ears and around their neck” (a reference to the strange Dha’kgulu clan from the Double Island Point region – claimed to have been massacred for their gold jewellery by the timber cutters). Stories of great feastings, strange “smoking” rituals and mysterious ceremonies were commonplace in their ancient folklore.

They also tell of places north, south and west near their territories called:

  • Bpai'kgil'ba - The Land of Old Fishermen
  • Kga'marung'ba - The Land of the Iguana
  • Dharu'kgal - The Land of the Black Cockatoos
  • Kgari'mi - The Crossing Place Tragedy
  • Kga-Kgar'i - The Land of the Laughing Spirit Bird
  • Bpandha-Kguna'dhai - Land of the Yellow Stones
  • Kgu'lulu - The Land of the Great Lakes
  • Kgung-Nga'bvang - The Land of the Great Water Mother
  • Dhak'kin-Kgung'lulu - The Lands of the Rainbow Spirit
  • Bpau'ruam'ba - The Lands of the Winds
  • Bpanga'bang - The Land of the Giant Water Lily
  • Bpirri'nga'ba - The Land of the Ice Spirit

From available localised records, it appears that all members of the clans north of Noosa were gone in total by c.1885 - the timber cutters, native police and some landholders had ensured many of the clans went into extinction. There are no known records of genuine descendents but a short list of last known members for each clan still exists including dates of their deaths, by whom and from what causes.

A sample from the photo gallery:



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