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

Coonamble Country

King Billie of of the Macquarie Marshes stands before his fellow Weilwan men at a ceremony (Charles Kerry, date unknown)

King Billie of of the Macquarie Marshes stands before his fellow Weilwan men at a ceremony (Charles Kerry, 1898)

It is believed that the township of Coonamble was formed on the traditional grounds of the Weilwan people. The Weilwan were strongly connected to the spiritual world and would often carve symbols  and construct representations of spirits on the land. The Weilwan were closely bordered by the Gamilaraay to the north-east of the land and Wiradjuri to the South, and although there weren’t any physical boundaries, boundaries were distinguished by natural features between the groups. Crossing these was only tolerated in times of drought and if visitors brought gifts like tools, weapons, food and stories.

Sandy Camp
As the Weilwan were mark makers and tree carvers, Coonamble Shire is home to culturally significant locations such as scarred trees, artefacts and bora grounds; many of these can be found along the Castlereagh River and at Quambone, which is located 60 kilometres west of Coonamble. ‘Sandy Camp’ at Quambone, was an iconic cultural meeting ground where many ceremonies would take place. These ceremonies were very important for trading and to pass on cultural knowledge to the men and women of the Weilwan. Sandy Camp is home to bora grounds, burials and many artefacts and was also home to Billie, King of the Macquarie. The Macquarie Marshes are still considered an important and significant site for Aboriginal culture.

Tin Town
Tin Town was located off Namoi Street in Coonamble and was a place of residence for Aboriginal people outside the day to day control of the Aboriginal Protection Board from the mid-19th Century. It was one of the first areas of land allocated by the government so that Aboriginal people could access land for traditional use. Most people lived in makeshift dwellings called gunyahs made of corrugated iron sheets, bark, wood and leaves. It was demolished in the 1960s and people were moved into the township itself. Three houses were purposefully built for some of the families moved from Tin Town. These houses still stand today in Limerick Street.

Parts of this written information have been retrieved from:

Miller, S. (1999) Sharing a Wailwan Story- Education Kit

Christison, R. (2009) Coonamble Shire Thematic History

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