WELCOME TO COUNTRY: WUNYA NGULUM
(Welcome Everyone!) from the GUBBI GUBBI people of the beautiful Sunshine Coast, Queensland.
The Sunshine Coast International Readers and Writers Festival Inc would like to acknowledge the region’s Traditional Owners, the Gubbi Gubbi people of the Sunshine Coast and Gympie. The Indigenous people hunted the ranges, fished the rivers and gathered food from the ocean. Indigenous people derive significant social meaning and a concept of belonging through relationships between each other’s tribes, clans, families and the land. For Indigenous communities, the land was (and still is) integral to their culture and way of life. They practiced holistic land management that ensured the health of the land for future generations.
Undumbi, Gubbi Gubbi and the Dulingbara people were collectively referred to as “Bungarnuba” meaning “Saltwater people” by neighbouring clans. Large numbers of Aboriginal people lived in the resource-rich Sunshine Coast area until the late 1800s and early 1900s, when they were forced from their traditional lands by the encroaching white settlers and many from this area were moved to Barambah Reserve (Cherbourg), near Kingaroy, Yarrabah (near Cairns) and Palm Island (near Townsville).
Gubbi Gubbi is the name of the actual language spoken by the local Aboriginal people. Gubbi Gubbi means “NO”. Gubbi Gubbi lands stretched from the Pine River in the south, to Burrum River in the north, and west to the Conondale ranges. Their territories were bordered by mountain ranges and river systems. There were many “clans” within this vast area, about 20, each numbering from 150 to 500 strong. All of these family groups shared this language, and would come together on a regular basis for special ceremonies such as marriage, initiation and especially festivals.
One Gathering that held great significance was the Bunya gathering, held every three years in the Bunya Mountains. People would come from far and wide to be involved in these important meetings; from Bundaberg in the north, to Bourke in the south and Taroom in the west. Naturally only the fittest and strongest would make the long journey from those distant places.
Gubbi lands were very popular for many people, not only for the Gubbi Gubbi people, but also for all those living in the surrounding areas.
Traditionally Gubbi Gubbi people believed that every animal, bird and rock that belonged to their group’s totem was in fact the actual living spirit of an ancestor. As a result each member felt a definite kinship with that species. The totem, if it were a bird or animal, was never hunted or killed for food by the person whose totem it was.
The dyungungoo, or territory of the Gubbi Gubbi, is a typically-sized area for the south coast. The seasonal nature of food resources meant that groups travelled over, what seemed to non-indigenous people, as a vast area. Weather and seasonal variations affected shellfish supplies, and land-based resources needed to be used to supplement these temporary supplies. The seasonal availability of fruits, grasses and vegetables meant that groups travelled to these locations when the food was in season. This seasonal migration was a form of conservation. By varying their diet to include everything in the area that was at all edible at that time, the Gubbi Gubbi ensured that the one or two favoured food items would not cease to exist.