The Cobar area has been managed and occupied by Aboriginal people for at least 40,000 years. The area falls within the traditional homelands of several Aboriginal language groups and within these groups are communities living in what they term their “home country”.
The main groups are Ngiyampaa in the centre, Ngemba in the north east and Wiradjuri in the south, with the Paakantkji/Paakiantyi group occupying the area along the northwestern border of the region.
The Ngiyampaa Wangaaypuwan are associated with country roughly in the north by the Darling-Barwon and Bogan Rivers, and in the south by the Lachlan River.
The Ngiyampaa Wayilwan (Ngemba) were by the southern bank of the Barwon, Macquarie Marshes and eastward towards Walgett.
East of the upper, more southern part of the Bogan and along the Lachlan were the country of the Wiradjuri and to the south west, towards the lower Darling River, was the country of the Paakiantyi people.
The country which the Ngiyampaa Wangaaypuwan inhabited, consisted mainly of what is today called the Cobar Peneplain, together with some country on its south-western edge, along Willandra Creek.
The Peneplain is a plateau of flat and undulating country of which scattered hills and ranges are a feature. It dips from 240m above sea level in the south to 150m in the north.
A site of cultural and social significance for the local Aboriginal people in Cobar Country was Mount Grenfell. Mount Grenfell provided a water catchment as well as a quarry for small blades and also had deposits of red ochre, a material used both for rock paintings and for ritual body painting.
Between 1850 and 1860, European settlers moved into the area. During this time, government policy prohibited tribal gatherings, forcing the Aboriginal families to disperse. Descendants of the tribe are now scattered, although a few still live in Cobar.
For more information and a more detailed description of ethnography and history of the region contact the Cobar Local Aboriginal Lands Council on 02 6836 1144.
Information supplied courtesy of ‘Yapapunakirri: let’s track back‘. by Office of Registrar with Ethnography and History – the Ngiyampaa Wangaaypuwan by Jeremy Beckett 2003.