Aboriginal heritage

The Macquarie Marshes were the home of the Wailwan people.

There is plenty of evidence on Burrima of prior occupation by Aboriginal people. Scattered across the higher ground can be found prior hearths. What looks like a small pile of rocks is actually clay combined with the fat from the food that was cooked there.

Stone artefacts are sometimes found near these hearths. As there is no stone naturally occurring in the area, these would have been carried there. Most of the stone artefacts have been sourced from stone at Mount Foster 50 km away, but some stones originated much further way than this.

The Coolibah trees on Burrima are thought to be hundreds of years old. Many of them show an elliptical scar where a piece of bark was removed. These were often used to make coolamons or carrying dishes. Large sheets of bark were also used in burials to wrap the body.

During wet times of abundant food, the Macquarie Marshes was an important gathering site for surrounding tribes. Ceremonies such as the initiation of young men (called boras) were carried out at these gatherings. The Powerhouse Museum holds a significant photographic record of one of the last of these boras held by the Wailwan people in 1898, called the Charles Kerry collection. View a pdf of the Wailwan people’s story.