The Legend of Gympie

      

 
Bpan'dhar Kgoona'dhai Wuroo-kgurang'bar -
The Legend of the Yellow Stone

"The above original mural depicting the Ka’bi Kgai’ya Clan’s Legend of Gympie is a privately commissioned work for Brett J. Green by Gympie artist and cartoonist Jeff Douwes. The work is nearly two metres long and is composed of five individual segments that when combined as one panel, depicts the artist's European interpretation of Gympie's Legend of the Yellow Stones. It is not available for reproduction at this time."
      

   
The Legend of Gympie (or alternatively "The Legend of the Yellow Stone") was first recorded nearly 150 years ago (c.1858) through contact with the ancient Ka’bi Kgai'ya, Ka’bi Kgu'li and Ka’bi Kgu'thari clans of the central Mary River Valley region centred on Gympie City in S. E. Queensland long before full European settlement of the area took place. At the time, remote station settlements had already begun to make inroads upon the age-old native cultures and explorers of opportunity roamed the area.

This legendary story was originally recorded in the native language according to ancient clan law with the permission of the Nga'tja-guru (Spiritual Teachers/Clever Ones/Elder Men). It is possibly the oldest Aboriginal legend fully documented in Queensland – perhaps Australia. The Nga'tja (Storytellers) of the three major clans explained the complete story during a three day (3-5 February 1858) Yau'ar-war'rai (song and dance gathering) at the junction of the waterholes of Kgim'pbi (now called Pie and Eel Creeks) where they join the Mary River north of Gympie City today. The site was also a special initiation Dhur (celebration ring) location.

Fully interpreted at a later period from the Ka’bi language into an English version by an aboriginal historian with the full assistance of his long time Aboriginal companion and close friend Dhakkan’guini (the last surviving member of the feared Ka'bi Kgai’ya warrior peoples of the Gympie region of south-east Queensland), the legend is full of mystery with references to unknown and unrecorded events, and Dreamtime heroes of an ancient time past. It is unlike the Aboriginal legends we are presented with commercially today. It is an invaluable record.

It is also one of a kind because very few records of the language, customs and legends of the Mary River and Gympie region Ka'bi clans exist today because no major effort was ever made to record the ancient culture in those early pioneering days. Those that do exist are fragmented and often wrongly misconstrued - recorded for the sole use and purposes of early missionaries and government officials living outside the original clan territories of the traditional Ka'bi peoples.

The last of the modern-day-claimed unconfirmed members of an Upper Mary River-Kenilworth clan - Joe, Lucy, Doris, Mary Ann, Evelyn and Cliff “Monkland” (name adoption c.1905) were apparently relocated with a Jenny and Billy Lillis and Val Davey to Cherbourg. All but Evelyn and Cliff “Monkland” believed died c.1910-20. Willie and Emma Dunn (the last recorded Gympie Clan members) died of old age at Gympie (c.1923-25) leaving no descendants. The last of the old Noosa clans died at Cherbourg without descendents in the very early 1900’s according to Sunshine Coast historian Nancy Cato.

The last Ka'bi Kgai’ya warrior of the Widgee region and only surviving Nga'tja-guru (teacher) of that once-feared Mary River clan (Dhakkan’guini) spent his final years at Gayndah (c.1914-1938) in the Burnett District north west of Gympie as a close member of an early pioneer’s family. Dhakkan’guini’s wife and three sons (Ka’bi Kgu’li-Kgai’ya origins) met untimely deaths in 1902, 1892, 1890 and 1881.

Dhakkan’guini (who was given the name of David Kgai’ya by the pioneering family) died at his clan's sacred burial place in the Widgee-Oakview ranges west of Gympie in mid-July 1938 after his life-long friend and a ritualised “blood brother” to Dhakkan’guini had died a fortnight earlier at the old Gayndah home where they both had lived.

With the passing of all these ancient clans’ peoples, we are left to ponder on their legacies of stories, beliefs and legends - and marvel. The following sample is a much-abbreviated English extract of the translated legend originally told as three individual story parts by each of the original Ka’bi clans. It is only when the three segments are combined in their correct sequence that the full story unfolds.

The ancient story begins as: (in brief):

"A long time ago at the beginning of the fifth time, the Sun God had two grandsons by his favourite son Yindingi. They were Kgippandingi and Yuludara. Their constant bickering and arguments became intolerable. The Sun God had to look after them - Yindingi had long gone from the sky. There came a time when he had had enough. He consulted with the Moon Goddess as to what he should do.

They decided to send them down to Earth and have their own territories of ten peoples each. Peace reigned between the two grandsons for a very long time. As time went by, Kgippandingi the fierce warrior became more arrogant. He built the great houses made of stone reaching towards the sky. The place was called Dhumarinda - the Place of the Cruel People. Here the mysterious Star People waited with Kgippandingi for his return to the sky with the Sun God one day with all his mighty warriors."

The complex story goes on to tell of how the evil Kgippandingi destroyed his brother Yuludara as he conquered the lands and the peoples; how they both rose up into the sky where there was a great battle in the sky which had devastating results upon the Earth and the peoples there.

Great earthquakes, rising seas and fire from the sky covered the lands, destroying the place of the great stone houses. Kgippandingi and Yuludara were finally destroyed. The Sun God sent his messengers - the little people - from the stars to the Earth to save those peoples left. New laws were made and the new families spread out across the lands.

The remains of Kgippandingi became nuggets of gold guarded by the evil guardian spirit - the stinging Gimpi-Gimpi jungle tree. The golden Silky Oak tree was created to remind everyone of the evil deeds of the past. Yuludara the happy spirit became the dolphin guardian of all animals large and small, flowers and trees, and all flying creatures in the new paradise created by the Gods of the sky.

The legend of Gympie is a fascinating story that many are still trying to interpret today. The main questions asked are - who, where and what does the legend refer to - and when did the events take place. Perhaps you can help solve the mystery. All that we know is that it refers (through its original three-part format of storytelling by the early clans) to an old land by the name of Dha’mu’ri; strange pyramid references; Sky Gods, Spirits and Ancestral Beings; original clan names and old places; family class systems and rituals; ancient clan territories; unidentified language terminologies, legends, songs and chants; and who were the descendents of the ancient Ka’bi clans.

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