Tuesday, May 11, 2021  
News & Updates

Street in ACT named after Emily Hornville
Horneville Street, Forde (ACT)

Contact Period

In 1846, Sir Thomas Mitchell was the first white person to meet Muruwari people. Mitchell was mapping the Culgoa and Bolonne Rivers. He saw a Muruwari mayinj (man) and mukinj (wife) fishing with hoop nets in the Balonne river and asked them to show him the Culgoa River. The Muruwari people showed Mitchell the Culgoa river and he rewarded them with a steel tomahawk. Mitchell reported to the colony that he saw good grazing land in the Culgoa region and he encouraged kuwinj and watjiin to take Muruwari mayi for cattle and sheep grazing. In 1847, Explorer Edmund Kennedy also went to Muruwari mayi (lands) in search of good grasslands for grazing. Others travelled through our mayi until our mayi were taken by Kuwinj and Watjiin (white man and white woman) .

In 1853, Muruwari people were reported by the kuwinj and watjiin as being treacherous and unfriendly. But Muruwari people saw that the kuwinj yarraman (horses), milimpuray (cattle), dumba (sheep), and nanikur (goats) as destroying their mayi and breaking our ancient traditional rules. Muruwari people did not want these strange introduced animals here and so they were trying to remove them. Kuwinj and watjiin took offence to this and so kuwinj seldom ventured away from their kunthi (houses) without having a marrkin (rifle) or pirritjal (pistol). 

Muruwari people tried to fight against kuwinj and watjiin (white man and white woman) for taking their mayi. Many clashes occurred between Muruwari people and kawinj. These clashes ended in major reprisals. At Hospital Creek near Brewarrina, New South Wales, hundreds of Aboriginal people were massacred as punishment for a suspected killing of a kawinj stockman. Massacres also occurred at Butcher's Tree near Brewarrina mission, and along the Barwon and Narran Rivers.  To prevent more killings, Kawinj stopped Muruwari people from accessing the river to stop confrontations between us and Kawinj.

Lots of kuwinj moved to our mayi but by the late 1850s 'gold fever' saw the kawinj leave for the goldfields. As the kuwinj left Muruwari mayi, Muruwari people filled many vacant pastoral jobs. Muruwari people are expert workers as we know our mayi. Our natural ability to be expert yarraman riders and work milimpuray and dumba made our job easy and pleasing to kuwinji. Kawinj reported in their newspapers in 1860 that Muruwari people were now part of the pastoral economy. The four main labour camps were Milroy, Mundiwa, Weilmoringle, and Tatala (Toulby) Stations. But Muruwari people continued traditional life whilst working on the new pastoral runs.

Muruwari people virtually ran Toulby Station and camped on the Tatala block. Muruwari people and our children contributed to Kawinj culture and participated in local woolshed dances and special events to raise money for the World War II effort. As we became more involved in station life, we did not travel as much on our mayi like we did in the old days and so we stayed more and more in one place.

So as we became more sedentary, major problems arose for Muruwari People during the Contact period. Such things as the 1919 influenza epidemic, alcohol abuse, sexual intercourse with our Mukinj (women), and a lack of reliable food changed our lives.  During the 1918 flu pandemic, lots of our people died. Our people were buried in kawinj-style graves close to Mission sites. Local pubs that opened upon our mayi provided us with access to alcohol and created bad social problems between us; Kawinj stockmen who did not see many Watjiin during their working life slept with our mukinj instead; and gunjabul (policemen) handed out the food from the newly-opened stores. Food in particular became a problem. Our normal bush food was scarce because of yarraman,
milimpuray, dumba, and nanikur ate all our food and changed our Mayi. This made us  reliant on kuwinj and watjiin food. Kawinj witji (white man animals) muddied our waterholes as well and our mayi changed forever.