As a nation with ancient cultures and customs, the Gunggari People are proud Traditional Owners for an area spanning approximately 37,100 square kilometres in Queensland’s Maranoa region. Our people were formally recognised as Native Title Holders on 22 June 2012 and again on 5 December 2014. Gunggari country centres around the lifeblood of our people, the Maranoa River, and our country is nestled between the towns of Charleville, Mitchell, St George and Bollon in Queensland, Australia.
The Gunggari Native Title Aboriginal Corporation (GNTAC) was established on 14 May 2012 to administer and maintain Gunggari native title rights and interests. Our collective vision centres around honouring our ancestors, reconnecting our people and preserving and strengthening the cultural identity of the Gunggari Nation.
Our Lands and Waters
Gunggari Country is centred on the Maranoa River which flows through the township of Mitchell in South West Queensland, Australia. Our traditional lands span approximately 37,100 square kilometres of lands and waters nestled between the towns of Charleville, Mitchell, St George and Bollon. The Chesterton and Great Dividing Ranges bound Gunggari country to the east and west. The lands of the Mandandanji lie to the east, and the Kooma to the south.
We derive our traditional connection to country through our ancestry, a commonly shared deep spirituality and affinity with our homeland and recognition of our social belonging. Our laws and customs derive from a broader culture, described variously as ‘Gunggari’, ‘Kogai’, ‘Unggari’ or ‘Gnorree’, whose members spoke dialects closely related to the one language known as Gunggari.
Gunggari People have a deep affinity and knowledge of our lands which encompass many significant sites, such as camp sites, burial sites, battle sites, waterholes and wells, artefact sites and other historically important places. Many served as meeting places of Aboriginal people and we used for initiation ceremonies and corroboree.
Our landmarks are located in many places, including Mitchell, Mungallala, Bonus Downs, Tongy, Tomoo, Abieglassie, Woodlands, Dunkeld, Teaswater, Amby, Womblebank, Forestvale, Morven, Albany Downs, Cashmere, Hillsborough, Lussvale, Cytheream, Thirsty Downs, Rockybank, Grassmere and Bindebango.
The Maranoa River
The heartland of Gunggari country centres on the Mitchell township, but our Elders say it is ‘the flow of water’ which defines our territorial boundaries. The headwaters of the Maranoa River start from the watershed of the Carnarvon Ranges to the north and flows through the town of Mitchell on its journey south to meet the Balonne River at St George and into the Murray Darling system.
The traditional Gunggari song Illmargan, recorded by Granny Emily Jackson in 1974, tells the Gunggari Dreaming story and celebrates the spirit and power of the water, particularly the Maranoa River and its association with the Mundagatta, the rainbow serpent.
The Maranoa River is central to our People’s culture, knowledge and traditions, as are the watersheds of the Upper Nebine, Mungallala and Wallam Creeks, which feature strongly in the life histories of our ancestors.
Historically, our families lived along the Maranoa River in camps known as Yumbas, which served as spiritual homes, as well as places to fish, gather water and socialise. Today, we maintain a deep connection with the Yumbas, and we recognise Mitchell as the residential and emotional heartland of our people.
The Medicine Tree
The Medicine Tree, located at the Top Yumba and used for healing, is a site of great significance to our people. We believe a ‘little woman’ or healing spirit resides in the tree, a belief supported by Langloh Parker’s recording of a ‘Minggah, or spirit-haunted tree of an individual, usually chosen from amongst a man’s multiplex totems…another source of danger to him, as also a help.’
We share a deep spiritual connection to our country and believe the spirits of our ancestors continue to inhabit Gunggari country. As such, it is important to the Gunggari People that death and burial take place on our lands.
Since 2010, we have owned and managed 14 hectares of freehold land through the Gunggari Aboriginal Property Association. The land is located at Dunkeld, which was transferred to the Gunggari People under the Land Act and Aboriginal Land Act (Qld) via an Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) and alternative settlement process.