Sir, Mr. L. A. Meston
hopes (“Courier,” 5 June 1931) that his opinion concerning
the old Brisbane blackfellows will be accepted in preference
to that of the late Tom Petrie! What next? And what induces
Mr. Meston to make such wrong statements about Tom Petrie’s
knowledge of the blacks? Even his father (the late Mr.
Archie Meston) was a neophyte compared to Tom Petrie in
Petrie, Mr. A. Meston owed much of the reliable information
he possessed about the blacks. I remember, in those distant
days, the old squatters chairs at Murrumba, occupied by the
abovenamed gentleman, and wishing that the dad would write
down his knowledge, instead of imparting it to Mr. Meston,
who, as clearly indicated later, did not correctly remember
everything told him. Even in those days, information
divulged was fairly old history to Tom Petrie (for I cannot
remember him without grey hair in his beard), while, of
course, it was quite fresh to Mr. Meston.
Petrie died in his 80th year, in 1910. He was but
a few months old when he first saw Brisbane. His own
brothers and sister were the only other free white children
in Brisbane. Blacks of all ages were numerous, so no wonder
he learned to speak their language so fluently as I have
often heard him speak it. Of course, he knew the meaning and
correct pronunciation of every word.
face of the above, Mr. Meston’s statement about the
confusion of dialects in Tom Petrie’s time savours of the
ridiculous, for it practically is equivalent to saying that
there was always confusion. If we cannot take Tom Petrie’s
pronunciation of native words as correct, where are we going
to get an older authority? There was none, except his
brothers. I am pleased to say that Mr. F. J. Watson accepts
Tom Petrie as the authority. Mr. L. A. Meston’s perplexity over
Wooloowin or Kuluwin is evidently due to his modern
information. Ask and aboriginal to say the word six or eight
times, and his use of “w” or “k” will be about equal. Many
other words are the same. A noted example is “Poyungan,” the
name of a Fraser Island creek. No Fraser Island black could
say “Poyungan” six times in succession. As often as not it
would be “Boyungan.” The way to secure correct pronunciation
was to travel with the natives and note the unconscious
intonation. In passing, I must challenge Mr. Meston’s dictum
about emu, jackass, kangaroo, and native dog. My experience
is that it is a matter of knowing the habits of these birds
and beasts. A dingo gets just as thirsty as any dog, but you
must know him if you wish to see him drink.
June 18. 1931.
Tallebudgera and Tamborine
Sir, Dwellers in Sydney
Town in the years immediately succeeding 1788 were disturbed
occasionally from their early morning slumber by the cry of
“mo-gra-boodjerree, sounding along the street. Through this
cry they were apprised of the presence of a representative
of the Court of King Bongaree with a dilly bag of fish. On
looking into the bag they probably saw a collection of
mullet, whiting, and mackerel, as these were chiefly the
fish vended by the natives of those days. If they had asked
the dusky fisherman the native name of the fish he would
have told them that the mullet was “worrijal,” the “whiting
“talle,” and that “all pfeller fisa” was mogra.
When Queensland was still in the swaddling clothes
the words “Tallebood-jerre” (whiting good) were carried
northward and applied to a creek at Burleigh Heads. The
foregoing is one version of the origin of the place name
Another version was given by those sable warriors
with whom Mr. W. E. Hanlon foregathered when the locks were
brown on his head. They indicated that Talle-budgera is a
barbarism, and that it should be Challubujora. The root of
this word is challubal, and the meaning is not suitable for
application to the delightful watercourse bearing the name
Tallebudgera. That tally meant “wood” or “tree,” and chaloom
“fish” in the dialect spoken at Burleigh Heads, and, that
the word budgera was used on the Richmond and Clarence
Rivers, but did not mean “good” in the dialect spoken there,
are facts that cannot be disregarded in a summary of the
position. The historic Port Jackson word for “good,” namely
boodjerree or budgery, was never spelled budgera by the
authorities on the Australian language.
There is no confusion in regard to the place name
Tambourine, which was pronounced Dumbirin, the meaning “yam
in a cliff” being derived from dum “a yam” and birin “a
cliff.” The mountain itself was Wanggalbooin.
was not as Mr. Hanlon suggested, associated with lies. I
also refrain from attaching the meaning of this word to the
charming spot so named. A lie in this locality was unglurra
and a liar was unjurraning. The truth was ungjurrajumm
Turrubul dialect of the Brisbane River, the generic word for
fish was kuiyur- commonly pronounced kooyar by the whites.
This word was used for the same purpose by many tribes
covering territory, on and between the Cape River and
Bathurst. The verbal boomerang thrown by “Bobsly” in my
direction was of the type that, failing to reach his
objective, returns, and strikes the thrower.
carried the words “Mr. Meston says that Woola or Wooler is
not to be found in any coastal tribe’s language,” whereas I
have never discussed this word either verbally or in
June 22. 1931.
Sir – The word “kanimbia”
for which you were seeking a meaning recently , meant
“Hidden valley” in the dialect of the Kurig-gai tribe, whose
territory extended from Bulli to Port Macquarie and westward
to a line drawn north and south through the Blue Mountains.
The Kanimbia Valley is probably so called because the end of
it is closed in by mountains whose shadows make darker the
already scrub darkened valley. The word may have been used
as an adjective meaning “dark” or “hidden,” in the same way
as “yarra” which meant “flowing” was used as a generic name
for river in southern New South Wales and Victoria
Yarra-yarra was flowing-flowing. The beard was wallo-yarra
(hair flowing from the chin). The names of some British
rivers, such as Yare and Yarrow, and our own Yarra-yarra,
may have had a common origin. Yarra (or “yarrh”), was a far
flung word in Australia. Among the Dieyerie people of
Central Australia, whose hunting grounds are traversed by
Cooper’s Creek, it meant “this side nearest.” On the
Queensland side of Cooper’s Creek, it was the word for
throwing stick called “womra” by the Sydney blacks. In the
extensive Wirad-hari of New South Wales, it had the meaning
“to speak,” and on the Darling River it meant “word.” There
is also the Yarra-yarra Plain on the Lachlan River, the name
being derived from “yarra” a gum tree. In pronouncing the
word, the “rr” was well trilled, as it was in “warr-billy” (
a wrestling of blackfellows).
You quoted from Tom
Petrie’s book the word “kabooltur” as the original name of
Caboolture, “kabool” meaning carpet snake and “tur” the
ground. If “tur” is not a misprint, then it was the
expression Tom Petrie heard for ground, as he was a reliable
Ridley and my father
acquired their first knowledge of the dialects of the
Moreton Bay blacks from him, and they checked the words and
their meanings through to the blacks available during their
time, and found them to be substantially correct.
But Ridley has handed down
to us “kabuldar” (or “tar”) the “a” being pronounced as in
father. The word “dar” or “tar” is recorded in other
Australian dialects as “dyah,” “tyar,” “tha,” “tcha,” “jar,”
and “yar.” These different spellings, which no doubt
represent the same word, illustrate the difficulty in
catching the correct pronunciation. It is also hard to
differentiate between “b” and “p.” We have been spelling the
name of the most commonly known Australian tribe as Arunta
for a half century or more, and now Dr. Basedow finds it to
You said that Tom Petrie
gave “ku-ta” as the word for dark honey. It was also
pronounced “Koot-tha,” “Koot-cha,” and “got-cha,” – “k” and
“g” being used indiscriminately by the blacks.
The Nerang word “kudja”
recorded for honey may have been the same as the “Turrubul”
(or churrabul) word “ku-ta.”
In the Stradbroke and
Moreton Island dialects, honey was “kubbye” and “kooemba”
and on the Albert River “bunyarra.”
In the Dippil dialect
“kubbye” was the honey from the large bee. The wild dark
eyed warriors, tall and straight as their spears, who could
have told us the meanings of the words in their language of
which we are in doubt, were ferried across the Styx
“woorookooroobra” (long ago).
I am, sir etc,
L. A. Meston.
Bardon. August 3. 1931.
“Motorist” (Toogoolawah) –
F. J. Watson (Toowong) states that the name Bli Bli is a
slight corruption of the native word “bilal” in duplicate.
The word is the aboriginal’s name of the she-oak (Casuarina
glauca), and should be pronounced with the first vowel
almost silent. The name has been commonly corrupted into
Nomenclature of Queensland
Sir,- Regarding the place
name, Mahoo-ballan, or Mow-ballan, in a recent nomenclature
list of Queensland, the latter name is nearest to the
correct spelling and pronunciation . It is derived from the
Wacca words Mow or Mau- the vowels sounded as in “owl” in
the English word how – and ballan meaning bald, the words
conjoined meaning, in this instance, bald head. The word
ballan was also applied as a noun to any natural clearing in
the bush such as a flat or small plain.
Incidentally, I may remark
that the place name Gundiah, mentioned in a previous issue
as being derived from the native word Goodiah, meaning
“goodbye,” seems to me to be the outcome of someone’s fancy.
The common equivalent to “goodbye” of the natives in this
locality was “nal-yan-an-dee,” meaning, as nearly as
possible, “I am going.” The name, Gundiah is probably
derived from the name of a division of the Kabi tribe i.e.
the Gundi-burra, who occupied the territory in the vicinity.
I am, Sir, etc.
F. J. Watson.
NOMENCLATURE OF QUEENSLAND
LEYBURN- A town
on Canal Creek on the darling Downs, 30 miles from Clifton.
It was selected and named by William Grey, a pioneer, who
took the first load of beer and spirits into Warwick over
LIGAR RIVER- A
tributary of the Gregory River, it was named by William
Landsborough on December 29, 1861 in honour of Mr. Ligar,
then Surveyor General of Victoria.
suburb of Brisbane on the Cleveland line, two miles from
Wynnum. Edward Kekl, of Brisbane, gave the name (the Roman
name for Lincoln) to his farm, and that was adopted for the
railway station when it was erected.
LIZARD ISLAND- On the
night of August 11, 1770, Captain Cook and Sir Joseph Banks
slept on this island, which is near Cooktown, and named it
Lizard Island because of the enormous number of small
lizards they saw there. The island is memorable as the place
where Mrs. Watson and her child died after escaping in a
half tank from the blacks.
MEKAREE – A
town on the Yaraka line from Blackall, 427 miles from
Rockhampton. It was a native word for the brigalow tree.
railway station on the Mary Valley branch line, 20 miles
from Gympie. It was the name of a native tribe.
MELTON HILL- A
residential suburb of Townsville; it was named after John
Melton Black (general manager for Robert Towns and Co), who
lived there in 1865.
MEMERAMBI- A town
on the Nanango line, seven miles from Kingaroy. The native
word, “me-me-ram-bi,” was applied to a pretty bushy tree
that grew in the district. It was adopted by the early
settlers as the name of the district.
highest peak (usually, but inaccurately spelt Mowballan), of
the Bunya Mountains. It is a native name, derived from two
words, “mahoo,” meaning head, and “ballan,” a plain,
indicating the top (or head) of the Bunya Range, without any
trees on it.
township on the Atherton Tableland, about 80 miles from
Cairns. It was the native name for the upper waters of the
MALBON THOMPSONS RANGE- A spur
of the Dividing Range in North Queensland, named by George
F. Dalrymple, on October 15, 1873, after his sub-inspector
Malbon Thompson, second in command of the Queensland
Government’s North-east Coast Expedition.
suburb of Brisbane; it was named after Manly in Sydney,
probably because it was at the time the principal seaside
MANNUEN CREEK- A
creek in the Kingaroy District; named about 1849 by Haly of
Taabinga from the native word “mun-num,” given to a green
vine that grew on waterholes.
mission station in North Queensland; named by the Rev. J.
Nicholas Hey in 1891, from the native word for a stretch of
sand on which the station was built.
MARAMI CREEK- A
tributary (50 miles) of the Staaten River that flows into
the Gulf of Carpentaria; named by Frank Jardine on November
12, 1864, from the native word for a small cray fish that
pastoral town on the Bullo River, about 140 miles west of
Cunnamulla, and 670 miles west of Brisbane. The name was
given to a cattle station before the town was established,
but its meaning is not recorded.
THEEBINE- A town
between Gympie and Maryborough; it was the native name for a
species of fish.
terminus of the Dawson Valley railway; it is an irrigation
area, and was named after a former Premier of Queensland.
THINOOMBA- A town
on the Gayndah line, about 20 miles from Maryborough; it was
the native name in that district for the ti-tree.
THIRSTY SOUND- An
inlet near Bowen; it was named by Captain Cook in May, 1770,
because his crew had failed to find any fresh water in the
THE CROSS OF QUEENSLAND BADGE
Commenting on a paragraph
in the “Courier,” stating that the blue Maltese Cross of the
Queensland badge was chosen by the first Governor of
Queensland as a compliment to his wife, who had been born in
the Ionian Islands, Miss Isobel Hannay, of Clayfield, points
out that the badge of Queensland was not adopted until
November 15, 1876, when the Hon. William Wellington Cairns
was Governor, nine years after Sir George Bowen had left our
notification of that date was as follows:
“His Excellency the
Governor, with the Advice of the Executive Council, has
been pleased to direct that for the future, the badge of
the colony to be emblazoned on the centre of the union
flag for use by the Governor, and to be inserted in the
Blue Ensign for the vessels in the employ of the
Queensland Government shall be as hereinafter described:
Argent on a Maltese Cross Azure a Queen’s Crown Proper.”
That was signed by James
R. Dickson, as Colonial Treasurer.
“The cross,” Miss Hannay
adds, “appears in different form on the ensigns of many
countries, and throughout the ages it has been adopted by
various orders of knighthood and used in Heraldry. The White
Cross of eight points on a black ground, which is the true
Maltese Cross, the device of the Order of the Knights of
Malta, was their standard in 1121, A.D., when, with
hospitallers of Jerusalem,
they became a military body 400 years before they settled in
It is interesting also to
note that in the earliest days of history, that cross was a
symbol of leadership, for in the British Museum can be seen
representation of Azzur-nazir-pail, King of Assyria, 885 to
869 B.C., wearing a cross similar to the Maltese Cross of
today. Why our cross should be blue is a matter of
conjecture, but possibly it was considered the emblem of a
Queen’s land (Queensland) people.”
MORIALTA AND BLACKS
When motoring me to the
races yesterday, I asked Mr. J. R. Baker if he knew the
origin of Morialta, the name of the old home of the Bakers.
He said he always understood that it was an
aboriginal term given to the place by his grandfather, John
Baker, and meant running water.
“Luchorpan” contends that it is Irish.
He writes:- “If the name,
according to George French Angas, is Moriatta, it is also an
Irish word, denoting position, as atta means a site. So
instead of Morialta, the great house of the height (cliff or
glen side), we have Moriatta, the site of the great house.”
Thos. E. Fisher, Wayville, writes:-
“Dear Rufus – Your
reference to Morialta carried me back to the early sixties
(1860s). On leaving the Pulteney Street Grammar School, I
secured a position in the office of the late Hon. John
Baker, M.L.C., who lived at Morialta. I remember his
son-in-law, Sir R. D. Ross, at that time Speaker in the
House. He was often in the office, also Sir Richard Chaffey
Baker, and another son, John Baker. During the visit of the
Duke of Edinburgh, it was arranged to hold a blackfellows
corroboree on the park lands, in honor of the Duke’s visit.
The Hon. John Baker suggested that the blacks appear in
their war paint. This caused quite a stir, and there were
letters to the press, protesting against the aborigines
appearing in public in their wild state. Others contended
that it would have been absurd for the blacks to appear in
top hats and dress coats.
TOMMY WALKER AND A JAW-BREAKER
Talking of blacks, reminds
me that a reverend gentleman who hides his identity under
the nom de plume of “Sagart,” has introduced that famous
blackfellow, Tommy Walker, of the Adelaide tribe, into his
Tommy Walker was a wonderful mimic, and he delighted
to give an imitation of Samuel Beddome, presiding at the
Police Court, and fining the said Tommy for drunkenness.
“Dear Rufus – Though not
having the pleasure of your personal acquaintance, I never
miss your very interesting columns, and recent references to
South Australian place names were not the least attractive.
The correspondence on this subject reminded me that I had
never heard of an aboriginal name for the whole continent,
so, meeting an old friend, who had known Tommy Walker, I
enquired, ‘Yes,’ he replied, ‘I once put that question to
Tommy, and he informed me that it was “Skirragohiffirm,” but
professed not to know its
meaning. Can any of your host of friends enlighten me, as I
should say that it is important for many reasons that it be
“Skirragohiffirm” seems more Irish than aboriginal,
but knowing Tommy Walker’s delightful sense of humour, I can
imagine him giving as the answer “Eringobragh” or what would
be more after his own heart, “Filemupagin.”
pocket-book I have a beautiful portrait of Mary Pickford,
and another of Tommy Walker’s heavily-bearded lubra, Ada,
and whenever anyone quotes Kipling’s line, “The colonel’s
lady and Judy O’Grady are the same thing under the skin,” I
produce the photographs to prove the contrary.
Meaning of Indooroopilly
Sir- Mr. J. A. Fihelly was
apparently in a facetious mood when he penned that note on
the origin of the name Degilbo.
The delusion related therein was obsolete even in the
days when the fleet-footed Jack Fihelly was frantically
pursuing brown leather over the playing fields of Queensland
and New South Wales. It is therefore long overdue for
permanent burial with other obsolete delusions on aboriginal
Degilbo station was formed on Degilbo Creek by W. H.
Walsh in 1847. His son, A. D. Walsh (Dalgety & Co.), has
recorded the pronunciation of the station name as Dee-gulbo
and the meaning as “stony mountain.” A. Meston in his
Queensland Railway and Tourist Guide shows it as Dargil-bo
meaning “big stone.” Other observers have given variants
such as Tackeel-bo, Tuckeel-bo, and Dagul-bo, the meaning in
each instance being associated with stone. There was just as
much variation between the aborigines in the pronunciation
of their words as there is among ourselves in the
pronunciation of English words. The meaning of Indooroopilly
was recently given in your columns as “running water”
whereas this word is derived from Yindooroo, meaning
leeches. It was applied to a small creek or inlet from the
river that was infested with leeches.
While doing research in the Mitchell Library on the
Australian language, I noted that one observer had recorded
the meaning of Ballina as “blood flowing from the wounded,”
whereas Mr. Peppercorn, the surveyor, who laid out the town,
named it from a town in the north of Ireland. The name
Lismore was derived from the same quarter.
I have before me a copy of the Australian
Anthropological Journal containing the vocabulary of the
Minkin Tribe on the Leichhardt River. The native word for
water and rain is seriously given as “Watah.” This compares
more than favourably with Tom Petrie’s word “Warra” for “a
large sheet of water.”
I am, Sir, etc.
L. A. Meston.
Sir, The observations of
your correspondent, “Bobsiv,” on the structure and meaning
of aboriginal words are invariably precise and interesting.
His letter in today’s
“Courier” indicates that Degilbo should read Thargil -ba,
meaning “stone there” or “place of stone.”
It is questionable whether
“d” occurred in the Australian language at all.
The majority of old blacks
found “t” much easier to pronounce than “d”. We have also
recorded dackeel-bo (Mrs. Ridley), meaning “stony ground,”
dee-gulbo (Mr. A. A. Walsh), meaning “stony mountain,” and
dagil-bo (Mr. A. Meston), meaning “big stone.”
“stony ground,” the word would be Thargil-tha or
Thargil-dha. Accepting words for mountain as being
applicable to the mountain only, we construct Thargil-toonba
and Thargil-buru for “stony mountain.” What “bo” means I do
not know. The word “tuk-keel,” used by some of the old
Degilbo blacks for “stone,” is synonymous with “Bobsiv’s”
Because I wrote that my father was familiar with all
the Queensland dialects, your correspondent, Mr. T. R. Hall,
concluded that I meant that he could converse freely in
about eighty dialects. As a matter of fact, he spoke only
about four fluently. One may be familiar with the structure
and words of a language without being able to converse in
it. Also he apparently does not know that the same word had
different meanings in different dialects. Koonoowarra or
Goonoowarra was a word for black swan in Victoria, and meant
something else in Queensland. I wonder if “Bobsiv” can tell
us what the blacks of his boyhood days called the Degilbo
Rock. This is a savage peak of ribbed granite towering in
solitude and silence over the surrounding hills, one of
Nature’s broken columns on the grave of a dead past.
I am, Sir, etc.,
L. A. Meston.
Sir, I have read with
great interest the letters relative to the origin of the
In one letter by Mr. L. A.
Meston, he said that his father, the late Mr. A. Meston, was
an authority on both Northern and Southern tribes of
aboriginals. I cannot confirm or refute his claim so far as
it relates to the Southern tribes, but there is one Northern
tribe of which the late Mr. A. Meston wrote about, and the
statements made by him concerning this tribe certainly do
not confirm his claim to the title of distinction.
Shortly after the tragic explosion in the Mount
Mulligan colliery in 1912, there appeared in a leading
Sydney paper an article about this disaster under the name
of A. Meston. As an example of composition it was fine, but
some of the statements about the aboriginals were entirely
wrong. The article in question said, among other things,
that the native name for Mount Mulligan was “Narrow-woolgin” and that the
natives who lived on it were called the “Bullunburra” tribe.
It also said that the word Burra in that locality meant
All that was incorrect. The tribe that formerly
inhabited this mountain was known as Wakoora (two syllables,
with the accent on “Wa”). In that locality there was no such
tribe as Bullunburra, nor does the word “Burra” mean tribe.
In the dialect of the Wakooras, there is a word “Boora,”
which means ground. Bullunburra, as mentioned in the article
under review, was the name given by the natives to a hill
situated on the late John Byrne’s station on the Walsh
River, and the tribe of aboriginals who lived there was the
Woom-barm-barra (three syllables, accent on the second).
The correct native name for Mount Mulligan was
“Gnarra-bull-gun,” (the “Gn” is a dipthong, and the accent
is on Gnarra). This letter is not written with the object of
belittling Mr. Meston, but with the intention of correcting
information given about the place where I spent 40 years of
I am, Sir, etc.,
Sir, Under the above
caption, Mr. F. J. Watson (“Courier,” January 13)
reintroduced to your readers our old friend “Degilbo.”
Apparently he had returned
from Baramba after critically examining there the scions of
the native race.
Their verdict was that the name was Dugilbo, and that
it meant “big stone there.” Apparently the members of the
Baramba Commission are descendants of the Kabbee speaking
tribe that used the word dugil or tukkeel for “stone.”
It is a dialectic variant of the Maryborough and
Fraser Island word “tuckee.”
Torquay, a coastal village near Pialba, was called
Tuckee-thalba by the blacks, the free meaning of this name
being “place of stone.”
The mountain in the Biggenden district known as “The
Bluff” was Dhakke-bodhakke meaning “stone.” Here again we
meet with “bo.” What did it mean? There is no answer from
the Silences. I am of the opinion that “bo” is an adjectival
suffix, and that “Degilbo” (or “Dargilbo”) is an adjective
I am, Sir, etc.
L. A. Meston.
Bardon. January 17.
Aboriginal Name for Southport
Sir, - It is stated in
“Nomenclature of Queensland” that the meaning of the place
name Millmerran is not recorded. When residing in the
locality some years ago, I was informed that the word was
the aboriginal name of Mount Domville, and that its meaning
was “see all about” originating from the extensive view of
the surrounding country that may be seen from the summit of
In regard to the name Millaquin, the fact that the
meaning of “spearhead” could not be confirmed has
rise to the idea that the name is a corruption of the word
“milking.” There is a story that the word is derived from
the aboriginal name, or nick name, mil guin, of a blind
blackfellow who once frequented the locality. Some colour is
lent to this story by the fact that in the local dialect mil
guin means blind, and that the first owners of the Millaquin
sugar refinery, Messrs. Cran and Co., adopted as a trade
mark on their golden syrup cans a picture of a blackfellow
in the act of falling with a spear piercing his eye.
Moondarewa is described as a corruption of
moonjerrah, meaning mosquito. The word mundhara – accent on
the first syllable – in the language of the blacks between
the Logan and Tweed Rivers means mosquito, and mundharaba,
place of mosquitoes, was their name for the vicinity of
I am, Sir, etc.,
F. J. Watson.
Nomenclature of Queensland
Some Native Names
To the Editor of the
Sir, - I am in agreement
with your correspondence, Mr. F. J. Watson, that doubtful
meanings are shown for some of the native names in the
nomenclature of Queensland.
In his last interesting contribution to this subject
he refers to Talgai – the word in several dialects for dead
trees. On the Brisbane River, it was heard as dulgai, and on
the Downs and at Wallangarra (“Wollungararra”) as talgai.
Tambourine – “yam in a cliff” – is derived from dum,
“a yam,” and bireen, “a cliff.” It is admitted that a word
similar in sound to Tamborine was used for the wild lime
Some of your readers may remember the Wonkomarra
tribe of the Bulloo River. At the time- about 1863- that
this district was first settled by white men this tribe
could muster about 120 warriors, but in 1883 their number
was recorded as 50. Smallpox, which wrought havoc among the
Australian blacks from 1789 to 1840, did not reach the
Bulloo. The old Wonkomarras could have told you that
Thargomindah is a version of Chagoominda, meaning “porcupine
stop here,” literally “the place of the porcupine.”
You have recorded that “the Commissioner for Railways
named Tugun, and that it is pronounced Toongoon, and means
‘sound of the waves.”
What evidence has the Commissioner produced to show
that the meaning Tom Petrie gave for Tugun (Toogoon) namely
“sea waves,” is incorrect? Toogoon was also used to denote a
“mark or sign,” such as “a chop on a tree to show the road,”
and as a verb “to show.” To the Tweed River tribe, a cloud
was Toongoon, and the ocean and the boom of it were
toomgoon. The latter word, as the natives pronounced it, is
markedly imitative of the booming sound of the ocean.
You have stated that warrigal was the name for a wild
black. This word, and also wandi and walcha, were common
names of the dingo, in all cases the word being equivalent
to our “wild,” the dingo being the wildest of all animals
known to the natives. It is doubtful whether the natives
recognised degrees of wildness among themselves before the
advent of the white man.
I am, Sir, etc.,
L. A. Meston.
Basedow admits that our Australian aborigines blend with the
white fella and make a better mixture than the whites and
any other known coloured race.
three removes by union with Europeans and the mixed blood
produces white folk. The aborigines are, no doubt, descended
from an Aryan race, I have found, for instance, a curious
connection in their language, especially nouns, with the
a few examples from hundreds I could quote. Of course, I am
speaking of the Narrinyeries. I call particular attention to
the curious resemblance of the sibilant “ees,” and “eens.”
Aborigine: Krinkerees (whites), coolees (heads),
kaupees (noses), plumbees (ears), skimbees (arms) – we have
“arms akimbo” as an expression- turakees (legs), peelees
(eyes), pannkagees (throwing sticks etc.)
Irish – Tranleneens
(straws), shillalies (fighting sticks), sheebeens (low
public houses), caubeens (caps), dodeens (ropes), macrees
(hearts), spalpeens (naughty boys) colleens (girls) banshies
NOMENCLATURE OF QUEENSLAND
BINGHAM- A small
township at the mouth of the Mary River. It was named in
1875 after R. Bingham Sheridan, who was harbour master at
BINGO CREEK- A
tributary of the Delaney Creek at Durundur; “Bingo” was a
native name for a flying squirrel.
BINNA BURRA- A
tourist resort on the McPherson Range, near Nerang. It is a
native name for a beech tree.
BIRDSVILLE- A town
on the Diamantina, about seven miles from the South
Australian border. Percy Bird and George Field started a
store at the place – then a coach junction- and called it
Birdsfield. In sending a consignment of goods to them, in
1882, G. and R. Wills, of Adelaide, addressed it
“Birdsville”; and that name prevailed.
railway station near Innisfail; a native word for the
district – meaning “level country.”
range and watershed between the Logan and Albert Rivers.
Named by Allan Cunningham in July, 1828, after the famous
Birnham Hill and wood in Scotland (mentioned in
Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”) for “I found here some new and
DELUHRA CREEK- A
tributary of the Cadarga Creek, near Mundubbera. Deluhra was
the name of the actual meeting of the waters, but it is said
the native name of the district was Dooloo, meaning a
variety of quinine bush that grew in the neighbourhood.
DESPOND CREEK- A creek
in northwestern Queensland, named by Frederick walker, an
explorer, on November 5, 1861, because “the party has dug
for water but has not found any.”
river, 468 miles, which rises northwest of Longreach and
flows towards the border, where it joins the Georgina River.
It was named by William Landsborough and George Phillips, in
1866, in honour of Diamantina Roma, wife of the first
Governor, Sir George Ferguson Bowen.
well-known pastoral holding and settlement on the Warrego,
about 40 miles from Charleville. The principal waterhole on
the original property was called “Tullulah” by the blacks,
meaning a galah (species of cockatoo), but Edmund Bignall
who named the place in the early 1807s, changed that to
Dillalah, thinking it “sounded better.”
Sir, May I be allowed to
venture an opinion on Mr. L. A. Meston’s remarks (“Courier,”
January 1), on the interpretation of the aboriginal word
“burra.” With all due respect to the late Mr. A. Meston, who
probably had a greater knowledge of Queensland aboriginal
dialects collectively than any other white man, at least of
those who produced any literature on the subject, I do not
quite agree with his interpretation of the term in question.
So far as their tribal names mentioned by Mr. A. L. Meston
are concerned, the term probably defines indirectly a tribe,
but, directly, it means a place or territory. The word, or
affix, is difficult to define in English.
The aboriginal had a very limited vocabulary, and
meanings of word are varied by the aid of inflexions and
gestures. Plurals of nouns are, in some cases expressed by
repeating the noun, and sometimes by the use of the word in
The adverb of place is defined by placing the letter
“a”, with its short accent as in the exclamation “ah,” after
the noun, the letter being usually preceded by a consonant
in euphony with the preceding syllable, as in the case of
Toowoomba, from twoom, a yam, and ba, there, and Caboolta
(misspelled Caboolture) from cabool, carpet snake, and ta,
there or place of.
The affix sometimes includes the letter n, as in the
case of the name Maroon-dan, place of the sand iguana, and
Gigoomgan, place of cockatoos. The sound of ah repeated
defines plurality, quantity, or magnitude, as in the usually
mispronounced place name in Mundubbera, which should be
Mundo-ba-ra, from mundo, a bank or ridge, ba, there, and,
the last letter repeated, large, high, or many. The word in
question is a combination of the two syllables “ba” and “a,”
with the vowels lightly accented, which being pronounced in
quick succession, gives the sound of barra, the translation
to burra being easily understood.
In many place names, this affix is misaccented by the
white man, and in some cases has been distorted out of
recognition as in the case of the name of the town of
Bundaberg in which the last syllable has evidently been
translated from bara to burra, thence to borough, burgh, and
I am, Sir,
F. J. Watson.
Sir, Mr. Ted Hastings, now
living in Maryborough, and well known as a judge of horses
at many Queensland shows, was one of the stockmen on Degilbo
station in the early days, and he is perfectly satisfied
that the origin of the word is aboriginal and is from the
word “Dargilbo”- a big waterhole surrounded by rocks or
basalt, like a small waterfall in a deep creek, just below
the present railway bridge at Chowie. It was about two miles
from the head station. Mr. Hastings got this information
from an old blackfellow named King Jacky, who wore a brass
plate given to him by the then owner of the station, Hon. W.
Degilbo was known by that
name before 1855, when the station house was built. Both
sources explode the theory that the engineer who constructed
the line gave the place the name “Degilbo,” seeing that the
name was in existence long before the line was made. The
first time I heard the word was about 55 years ago.
I am, Sir etc.,
Hugh G. Hood.
Sir, Referring to the
recent discussion in the “Courier,” by A. L. Meston, “Old
Hodgkinson,” H. G. Hood, and myself, on aboriginal place
names etc., the orthography of aboriginal words appears to
vary, not only with the different communities of a tribe,
but also within individuals of such communities. When it is
taken into consideration that there existed on the coast,
from the southern border to Gladstone, at least four
distinct tribes of blacks with dozens of different tribal
communities, the spelling and pronunciation may take many
forms. Take, for instance, a class name relating to marital
law; T. Petrie gave it as turwan. A. Meston as turroine, a
writer on the Kabi tribe as dherwain, an interpreter of
Kamilroi in Northern New South Wales as dirraween, and I
have heard it pronounced by blacks of the Kabi tribe clearly
Many words, as pronounced by the aboriginals,
commence with a sound like a combination of d and t. Several
interpreters have interpreted this as dh, although it sounds
to me as dth. Other words begin with a sound as of a
combination in consequences of which one interpreter gives
the name of the native bear as gulla and another gives it as
kulla. In most cases, the vowels are very lightly accented
so that the word meaning stone may be written as dhakke,
dagi, tukkee, and torke, with but little difference in
Regarding Mr. L. A. Meston’s recent statement that I
practically agree with him that burra-burra means a tribe, I
may say that I am not entirely in accord with him. Quoting a
letter on the Kabi tribe, the word bora, in which the o has
the sound of o as in on, and which is analogous to Mr.
Meston’s burra, is attached to the word relating to a
community within a tribe.
This writer instances many names of communities of
the Kabi tribe, included in which are Witya-bora, at
Kilkivan, Kili-bora near Baramba, and Baiyam-bora at Yabba.
I am still of the opinion that the words interpreted
as bora, bara, and burra, are synonymous, and are adverbial
affixes, relating to place, but which are difficult to
define in English. Bo seems to be a verb meaning to come,
the combined form meaning come there, literally, of that
Regarding Mr. H. G. Hood’s interpretation of the word
Degilbo, “Courier,” 6 February 1931, it would be interesting
to learn as to where his railway friend obtained his
information, as Degilbo station was established on the creek
of that name by W. H. Walsh, in 1847, about fifty years
before a railway reached that locality. I think that any
attempt at interpretation of aboriginal dialects is
inconclusive, for reasons above shown, and the fact that the
patois now used by aboriginals is now a mixture of dialects
interspersed by corrupt English. Moreover, I do not think
that any one can satisfactorily interpret into English any
aboriginal dialect, unless he can converse in that dialect,
and thoroughly understand its orthography and syntax. It is
regrettable that so many pioneers who learnt aboriginal
dialects could not interpret them through insufficient
knowledge of English, and therefore being unable to grasp
the grammar of the quaint phraseology of the blacks; and as
I do not claim to be perfect in either accomplishment, I
will now retire from the discussion.
I am, Sir, etc.,
F. J. Watson.
Toowong. February 15.
THE OLD BRISBANE BLACKS
MR. TOM PETRIE IN REPLY
TO THE EDITOR
Sir, After Mr. Meston’s
long outpour in Saturday’s “Courier,” no doubt I shall be
expected to “lie low,” or acknowledge my shortcomings on
bended knee; but – let me whisper it – strange as it may
seem, Mr. Meston is able to make mistakes, and possibly
there are a few among my friends who will not think me
absurd when I actually stand by all I said in my former
letter to the “Courier.”
Please let me draw attention to the fact that I did
not say the Brisbane River was called “Meeannjin.” That was
the name of the Garden Point from the bridge round to Creek
Street, taking in the settlement.
I gave in my last
“Waar-rar” as the Brisbane blacks’ name for river, but it
was mis-printed “Warr-ral.” “Warril” comes from Ipswich, and
means creek. Mr. Meston is evidently unaware that
information may be taken incorrectly. I am sure that some of
your readers may even know that errors are simply made in
that way. Ridley gathered a lot of information but did not
mean him to gather all that Mr. Meston says he has gathered.
I repeat again that the “Turrubul” tribe extended from the
Pine to the Logan, and in some old notes of mine, taken
before my memory failed me, I find that I have said the same
It is quite true, however,
that there were three different languages spoken between
Brisbane and the Glasshouse Mountains. Also, I was correct
when I stated the blacks about Brisbane were a mixed lot.
Does Mr. Meston imagine the different tribes never visited
each other? Now, with regard to the statement, I am supposed
to have made, that 200 blacks composed the “Turrubul” tribe,
I said in my former letter : “It is something new to me to
learn that the tribes of North and South Brisbane spoke
different dialects.” That is so, but the blacks composing
the “Turrubul” tribe certainly did not all congregate
together in one spot, but camped in lots of about 200 each,
and they would visit one another. And when I spoke of only
one or two old men being left alive, I meant of the old
aboriginal tribe who camped at North Brisbane, and who were
boys when I was a boy.
I was not aware before
that I have been in the habit of speaking a mixture of three
or four languages. We have always to live and learn it
seems. Does it not sometimes strike Mr. Meston, though, that
he is a mere baby compared with me in his experience of the
blacks? To quote from that gentleman’s letter: “Durramboi’
told Ridley that his dialect went from the Glasshouses to
the Burnett, where it joined Wacca-wacca. This was quite
Is it not amusing! If Mr. Meston says it is correct,
it is correct! “Durramboi” came nowhere beside Mr. Meston in
his knowledge of the aboriginal, neither does Tom Petrie,
especially now his memory is failing poor old man! But
methinks perhaps Mr. Meston’s memory is going also. One
would not think a clever man as he is could be absolute
master of a dialect at the age of 21 and not be able to
recall fifty words! In my own case I find that one does not
easily forget what at one time formed part of one’s whole
life. If what Mr. Meston says is correct, Mr. Ridley and I
must have misunderstood one another. That gentleman himself
thanked me for my information, and said that he could always
get the blacks to understand what I told him.
As for the word “Wukka,” I
never did think it was a Brisbane negative; it came form the
Burnett. “Guggaar” was the Turrubul negative. And so on with
Mr Meston does not explain
why he called the “Turrubul” tribe “Bo-obbera.” In
conclusion, I would say that I have not the time nor the
inclination to keep up this correspondence, so it will
perhaps be better if Mr. Meston and I agree to differ on
I am, Sir, etc.,
Sir,- I have taken much
interest in “Nomenclature of Queensland” published in the
Courier Mail, but, having made a considerable study of the
native languages of southeast Queensland, I am of the
opinion that the meanings given to a number of aboriginal
place names are not correct.
For Obi Obie, or Ubi Ubi, the meaning given was
“Plenty, plenty.” Ubi or Wubi (W almost silent, u as oo in
‘woody’, I as in ‘it’) the name given to Mount Ubi cattle
station, afterwards changed to Kenilworth- meant, in the
local (Kabi) language, an evil spirit. The meaning of
Pialba, was given as a bird, but I think it is from
bai-yi-ba meaning a battle ground or, literally, a fighting
You say that the meaning of Talgai is unknown. It
was, in the local dialect, a word meaning dead trees.
The meaning of Tiaro is given as “a flower”; it is
from tau-wa meaning, in the Kabi dialect, dead trees. This
locality was originally the habitat of the Tauwaburra (dead
tree people) a division of the Kabi tribe.
The name Tewantin was given as meaning “dead trees,”
this would be in the same language , Tau-wandan meaning the
place of dead trees or logs. Tirroan (near Gin Gin) was
named from Tur-ro-in, a smart aboriginal of Gin Gin cattle
station of which the locality was originally a part. The
word is really an aboriginal class name.
Torquay is given as being named after Torquay in
England. This, no doubt, is correct, but at Torquay is a
rocky reef on an otherwise entirely sandy beach some miles
in length, which was known to the blacks, and, through them,
to a number of early white residents as Turkkee, meaning
“The Stones,” and possibly, by this and the seaside
location, the present name was inspired.
I am, Sir, etc.,
F. J. Watson.
The following are names whose meaning have been
inquired for by various widely scattered correspondents
since the appearance of my last article in the “Herald.”
A well-known Walgett resident wants the origin of
that town. There was no such aboriginal word. In the
original spelling, the double “r” was taken to be double “t”
by the Lands Office and the unfortunate mistake has become
permanent. The actual word was Walgerr, spelled Wolgeer by
Ridley, who gives the meaning as “a high hill,” but he gives
the name of “yong-un” to the porpoise at Moreton Bay, where
“yung-un” was the dugong.
Yass was just as unfortunate as Walgett. The original
word as “yarr,” but the two “r’s” were taken to be two “s’s”
and that mistake has also become permanent. In one dialect,
Walgeera was a name of the black cockatoo. There was no
sibilant sound in any Australian dialect. Had the
aboriginals an alphabet, it would contain no q, w, f, v, x
Yarr (Yass) in Kamilroi, Wiradjerie, and at least
three other dialects, was “look out,” “beware,” “stop
there.” “Warr” had also partly the same meaning. The old
bullock drivers who said “Warr-wooee,” spoken very slowly,
to steady their teams, were really using a pure aboriginal
expression, meaning be careful, go slowly, be steady. Our I.
W. W. friends of the “go slow” tactics might appropriately
call themselves the “Invincible Warr Wooees,” and so adopt a
genuine aboriginal title, without changing their initials.
Myee, a name given to the daughter of one of our
Governors (Lord Carrington), in the Kamilroi dialect, was “a
little girl” from babyhood to about eight years, but in at
least two other dialects, it was the name of a small green
frog which has a call very like the word, if drawled in a
A word in one dialect may have quite a different
meaning in another. As one specimen, take the word
“canyahra,” the numeral “one” at Moreton Bay, but from
Townsville to Cooktown, the name of the large crocodile
(crocodillus porosus). The word Keera given to a mountain
near Woollongong, was one of the many names of the white
cockatoo (cacatua galleria) “Keera,” “keearra,” “kyatta,”
“karahra.” The well-known steamer Kyarra bears one of these
names. Henry Kendall refers to the light that “shimmered on
the cone of Kerra,” but the Keera pointed out to me as
Kendall’s mountain is a distinct table-top, and not a cone.
The same poetic licence induced the poet to arm our
aboriginals with “the nulla, the sling, and the spear,”
though the sling was unknown in Australia, the nearest being
that of the expert aboriginal slingers of Noumea, recalling
the famous ancient Balearic Island slingers in the army of
Alexander the Macedonian Conqueror. Narra-been and
Deewee-deewee were the aboriginal names of the well-known
lakes near Manly. “Narra-been” was the swan (Cygnus atratus)
and “deewee-deewee” was a widely spread name of the little
grebe (Podiceps Minor), well-known in England and here also
as the “dabchick.”
On my first visit to the Narrabeen Lakes in 1872,
they were covered with swans and dabchicks. Five aboriginals
who were camped there called the honeysuckle (the “wallum”)
“gnarrabeen,” but they were not speaking the old Beeallba
dialect of the Sydney blacks. They knew more Kamilroi, and
the Awaba (Ahwabah) of Port Macquarie.
Goondiwindi is a Queensland town, from which the
eclipse of the sun is to be witnessed. It lies 294 miles by
rail from Brisbane and 135 from Warwick. The name comes from
the old Waccaburra dialect of the Darling Downs, and is the
word for “to-morrow.” One black asks another “Wanya gneen
yanman?” (“where are you going?”) and the other replies “Gni
yanman Brisbane goondiwindi,” (“I go to Brisbane tomorrow.”)
Ballina is a town at the mouth of the Richmond River.
The surveyor gave it the name of the Irish Ballina, on the
Moy River in Sligo.
Bungarie Nora, on the coast north of Broken Bay, is
merely Bungarie’s Rock, so named in honour of Bungarie, a
once well-known Sydney aboriginal in the days of the first
settlement. He accompanied Flinders on a voyage north in
1799, and on August 14, in that year, he landed on the south
end of Bribie Island in Moreton Bay, and met the Bribie
blacks, a tribe called Joondoburrie, now extinct, but
trouble arose, from some misunderstanding, and Flinders’
party shot one or two aboriginals, the place being still
called “Skirmish Point.” Bungarie also landed with Flinders
on the north end of Great Sandy Island, now Frazer’s Island,
and had a friendly meeting with the blacks at a spot pointed
out to me by old Frazer Island aboriginals in 1874.
Coola-patamba, first mentioned by Stutchbury, the
geologist, about 1856, and said to be the name of a hill,
comes from “coollah,” in the Wallwoon dialect, a name of the
black eagle (aquila audax), “patamm,” to drink, and the
affix “ba,” nearly always, as an affix, equivalent to our
adverb of place, “there.” The whole word actually meaning
“the eagle drinks there,” or “the place where the eagles
“Uralla,” “yaralla,” “yuralla,” “durallie,” were
words to indicate a fight, or fighting, one or other
appearing in several dialects, “durallie” being the most
widely spread, extending from Sydney to Moreton Bay.
“Wonona,” “wonoona,” “wonoma,” and “woonona,” were
names of sleep from Shoalhaven to the Clarence, and reappear
again 1500 miles north, like “banna” and “woronora,” another
Bulginbar, the name of a North Coast steamer, comes
from the old Clarence dialect. About 1868, one of my
schoolmates, John Frederick Small, son of a squatter at
Ulmarra, and still alive, and well, near Dalby, in
Queensland, had a racehorse he named Bulginbar, remarkable
for breadth of beam, like a Dutchman, and the name clearly
indicated his abnormal dorsal expansion. The name could only
be suitable for a steamer much wider across the stern than
midships, like a Chinese river scow.
Parramatta comes from “parra,” the eel, and “matta,”
water, eel water, both words in the old Sydney dialect. At
Moreton Bay and Frazer Island, the eel was “yulu,” a name
also common to the porpoise.
Cabramatta was from “matta,” water, and “cabbra,” the
old Sydney blacks’ name for a long soft worm, with a hard
head, that bores into and destroys dead logs or any timber
lying in fresh or salt water, known commonly as “cobra,”
very destructive in wharf piles. It is a Teredos worm,
probably allied to T. navalis, of which there are many
varieties known as isopods, cheluria, pholas, spheroma,
martesia, having a world-wide range. The cabbra was a dainty
dish with the aboriginals, who ate it raw, as we do oysters,
to which it has a similar taste. The favourite cabbra was
found in swamp oak or forest oak (Casuarina), the blacks
placing logs of that timber in the water until riddled by
cabbra, and then chopping them to pieces with the old stone
tomahawk, “mogo,” before the advent of the white man’s
About 21 years ago, when camped beside a semi wild
tribe on the shores of Weymouth Bay, an old dark lady
brought to me about a pint of “cabbra” she had cut out of a
dead mangrove. It was in a bark coolamin, and floating in a
rather uninviting bluish water from the stain of the wood.
Washing it in clean sea water, I boiled half in a billy, but
ate the balance raw, being a very pleasant dish in both
states. These dead-wood eating worms grow up to as much as
two feet in length. They avoid tea-tree, turpentine, cypress
pine, and several other timbers.
An old and esteemed resident of Armidale, Mr. J. F.
Thomas, at present in Sydney, writes to ask the meaning of
“Moombilleem,” said to be the aboriginal name for
Tenterfield, a town about to celebrate its municipal jubilee
next month, and whose first Parliamentary representative, in
the first Parliament of New South Wales, was Robert Meston,
my father’s brother. The word was known to me at an early
age. The Tenterfield blacks spoke a branch of the great
Yucumbill dialect, which included all New England and the
coast from the Clarence River to the Logan. Over that area
the blacks clearly understood each other, though differing
widely in many words. One of the well-known Wyndham family
spoke fluently the New England dialect, which he spelled
“Ucumble.” Our first meeting was when I was a youth, and he
was fishing with a lot of blacks in a branch of the Gwydir.
Our last meeting and final parting was on Boyne Island, near
Gladstone, in Queensland, where he and an old maid sister
lived for many years, two very interesting and very
In the Tenterfield dialect “moom” was a word for
death, and “billa” and “billeem” were a large and a small
creek, so that Moombilleem was a small, dead creek, actually
a dry creek except in wet weather, the word having exactly
the same meaning as billabong, which is from “billa,” a
creek, a widely spread word, and “bong” for death, common at
Moreton Bay and elsewhere as “bong” or “boang.” In
“billabong” the adjective follows the noun, as usual in
aboriginal dialects, but is first in Moombilleem. The two
words would be equally understood by blacks as billembong,
bongbilleem, billabong, bongbilla, or billamoom or
From “moom” comes Moomin Creek, and Moombooldool in
New South Wales, and Moombra, correctly Moomburra, on the
Upper Brisbane River.
Woolloomooloo is one of the few aboriginal words
correctly spelled, but the blacks pronounced it slowly
“Woollooh-moollooh.” It was the name of a whirlpool,
whirlwind, or anything whirling round, and was used also to
denote windmills along the heights above Woolloomooloo in
the old convict days.
At South Brisbane, Woolloongabba is from “Woolloon,”
whirling round, and “capemm,” water, actually whirling
water, correctly Woollooncapemm.
Woolloomooloo, at Sydney, became Wooloon Woolloon at
ABORIGINALS AND PLACE NAMES
WHERE THE BIG NOISE WAS HEARD
To the Editor of the Courier
Sir,- As there is
apparently some controversy regarding the origin of
Tambourine and Wonglepong, may I be permitted to point out
that they were place names long before the white man deposed
the black in those localities.
The small hill on which stands Tambourine Hose, the
residence of Mr. Cecil Delpratt, was the spot the natives
designated “Tambreen,” from the yam, used by them for food,
being found there. It meant “yam in a cliff.” The late John
Allen, of Mundoolun, was my authority, and he showed me the
place which his ancestors had named. He also gave me the
following story, which, he said, had been told around the
camp fires for many generations:
Long ago the tribe were camped on the bank of the
Logan River; a great noise was heard, and the earth
trembled. Louder than thunder, it terrified the aborigines,
who hurriedly fled, never stopping until they found
themselves in peaceful and beautiful surroundings at the
northern summit of Tambourine Mountain. Here their fears
were calmed, and henceforth the localities became
“Jimboomba, the place where the noise was heard,” and
“Wonglepong” “sound forgotten.”
John Allen, whose native name was Bullumin, the last
of the Wangerri-burra tribe, and probably the best educated
aboriginal of his day, remained the faithful and trusted
retainer to the Collins family for almost the whole of his
long and useful life. It is interesting to recall that on
November 8, 1845, Mr. Thomas Dowse, afterwards first Town
Clerk of Brisbane, was granted a licence to depasture stock
beyond the limits of location at “Gimboomba,” and on that
day Mr. H. P. Hicks, was similarly assigned ‘Tambourine.” In
May 1848, Mr. Donald Coutts obtained “Tambourine,” then
consisting of 15,000 acres, which he stocked with 750
Mr. Hicks and his partner, Mr. Whitting, were also
the first owners of Tabragalba, which, in 1846, they sold to
Mr. Dugald Graham. Tabragalba was another legend among the
blacks. A great hunter, much esteemed for his prowess, lost
his nulla nulla, to which his great skill was ascribed, but
although the whole tribe searched diligently, it could not
be found. Without the nulla nulla, the hunter lost both his
prowess and reputation, which were never regained. For many
years descendants of the original tribe gathered on the flat
by the river opposite where is now the homestead, and the
story of the hunter was told. At last, the weapon, in a
petrified state, was discovered, and the spot named
“Tabragalba,” meaning the place where the big nulla nulla
Mr. Graham sold Tabraglaba to Mr. James Henderson,
whose son subsequently lived at Kinghorn, Tambourine, and
was for some years chairman of the Tambourine Shire Council.
In 1866, Mr. Henderson sold the station to the late Mr. de
Burgh Persse, and the family of that public spirited man can
well be proud of their seventy years occupancy of
Mundoolun, native name of the death adder, has been
continuously occupied by the descendants of Mr. John
Collins, for 94 years, and Queensland has much for which to
thank these two families in pioneer exploration and public
I am, Sir, etc.,
MEANING OF INDOOROOPILLY
To the Editor of the Courier
Sir,- I can support Mr. A.
McConnel’s statement in the Courier of the 23rd
last, as to the meaning of the place name, Indooroopilly. It
is derived from the words “nyinderu” and “pilla” or “billa,”
the former word meaning “leech,” and the latter meaning
“creek” or “gully.”
There seems to have been some confusion as to the
initial letter of the word, and the peculiar aboriginal
dental dipthong “necessary” has, no doubt, led to the use by
the whites of the letter “y” only, or to the initial letter
being entirely dropped.
Inter alia, I may mention that the place names,
Yeronga and Yeerongpilly, are derived from the word “yarung”
meaning sand, or fine gravel, as distinguished from “darra,”
meaning stones. The former name should be Yarunggra, the
accents being on the first and last syllables, and the
latter should be Yarungpilly, the first meaning sandy or
gravelly, and the latter, sandy creek or gully.
The generally accepted opinion drawn from the
interpretation in “Tom Petries’ Reminiscences” that the latter
name is derived from “yurong,” meaning “rain,” is, I think,
incorrect. This word was used by the natives north of
Brisbane River, but to the south thereof, the word was
“kuwong,” the letter “u” being a half-vowel, giving the a
sound almost like kwong.
I am, Sir, etc.,
F. J. Watson.
A RECORD ASCENT
The presence in
Rockhampton of Mr. A. Meston, Director of the Government
Intelligence Bureau at Sydney, recalls the fact that some
years ago, he made what has been regarded as a record ascent
of the Berserker Range.
Mr. Meston started out on horseback from the
Commercial Hotel, and galloped out to a German settler’s
farm near Frenchman’s Creek, left his horse in the yard, ran
through the scrub to the foot of the range, divested himself
of all his clothes with the exception of a pair of drawers
and a singlet, and ran up the mountain to the summit.
On reaching the top, he immediately lighted a fire of
some dried grass and the dead top of a young bloodwood.
Persons who were watching from the balcony of the Commercial
Hotel saw the smoke rise just one hour and 25 minutes after
his departure form the Hotel.