Living Arts and Culture is a place to promote and celebrate indigenous arts and cultures in the far west region of NSW.

Walgett Country

Carved trees from bora ground near Collarenibri

Carved trees from bora ground near Collarenibri

The name “Walgett” comes from a Gamilaraay (Kamilaroi) word meaning “meeting of two waters”. The town of Walgett is located near the junction of the Namoi and Barwon Rivers in north western New South Wales. The spot where Walgett stands today was originally called “Wareena” (Warrana) an Aboriginal word for “rising ground near the meeting of the waters”.  Occupation of the area by Aborigines or Murris as they sometimes prefer to be called, has existed for many thousands of years. Their diet consisted of fish, waterfowl, plants and small animals.

Aboriginal people now living in Walgett are mostly of the Gamilaraay.

Much is known about the Gamilaroi people due to their close proximity to early white settlers.

The Kamilaroi were an Aboriginal group located in New South Wales, Australia, along the Barwon, Bundarra, Balonne, and upper Hunter rivers and in the Liverpool plains. This group were nomadic hunters and gatherers with a band-level social organisation. Men typically hunted, cleaned, and prepared the game for cooking. Women did the actual cooking, in addition to fishing and gathering. Individual Kamilaroi did not eat animals that were their totems.

Whilst a patriarchy, lineage was most often determined by the mother. You were not permitted to marry a member of your own totem but only members of a specific other totem. Rites were held to encourage the propagation of totems. There were initiation ceremonies for both sexes, with circumcision for boys. Shamans (wireenun) concerned themselves with curing illness and communicating with their dream spirits, who were often sent out on information-gathering missions.

Marriage could not take place until a young man had been initiated which occurred at an initiation ground (Buurru) which included a bora ring. The bora ring consisted of two circles interlinked by a straight path often surrounded by marked trees which also had spiritual significance. Initiation was a lengthy process and marked with the presentation of a white rock which was retained by the initiate in a possum skin bag worn around his neck.

Other tribes within the Walgett Shire were the Yuwalaaraay people.

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