by Marilyn McPherson, courtesy of Minjungbal Aboriginal Cultural Centre. April 1999
Photographs © 1998
Minjungbal. Telephone (07) 5524 2275
For many thousands of years, the Tweed Valley was a green paradise resting
in the shadow of the majestic Wollumbin.
The Bundjalung people enjoyed a warm sub-tropical climate. The landscape
varied from towering mountains to the bountiful sea, providing an abundance
of food and materials that met all their needs.
Wollumbin, the mountain today known as Mt Warning, towers 1100 metres
above the sea. It was named by Captain
James Cook in 1770, as a warning to other seafarers, of the numerous
treacherous reefs along this coast.
He did not know that the Bundjalung
people for many miles around called the mountain Wollumbin, and that
it was an important sacred site*, as their lives and religion were
strongly linked to the land.
Photo right: © Dance Group
Their religion provided an explanation for the world as experienced by
the Bundjalung people and it gave them the laws that they followed
The foundation of their beliefs was the Dreamtime or [The] Dreaming. They
learned from their fathers over the centuries that the land was created
through the movement and creation of spiritual beings and the creatures
There is a dreamtime story of Wollumbin, said to be Warrior Chief of the
mountain. The spirits of the mountains were warriors. The wounds
they received in battles can be seen as scars on the side of the mountain
and the thunder and lightning are the effects of their battles. When
you look toward Wollumbin from the north, you can see the face of the
Warrior Chief in the mountain's outline.
Another sacred site with special significance for the Minjungbal people
is located at South Tweed Heads. There is the sacred Bora Ground,
and surrounding bushland that links them spiritually to their ancestors.
It was last used traditionally in 1910.
In the late 1950's, an Aaboriginal lady named Margaret Kay spent years
restoring the Bora Ring that was shown to her by her relatives.
Applying to the council for it's preservation, her efforts were rewarded
in 1961, where the Bora ring and 125 hectares of surrounding bushland,
including Ukerabagh Island, was reserved for the preservation of Aboriginal
Margaret managed the Bora Ring with help of children from the local community. She
also established a little museum at the front of her house and continued
to contribute her knowledge and energy to the site until her death
Implements and relics of all sorts and endangered flora and fauna are
still being discovered and knowledge of indigenous culture still being
expanded as a result. The Minjungbal people today are thus able
to sustain their spiritual connection to the site, to keep learning
and practicing their culture and to provide a continuing insight for
the wider community.
Minjungbal Aboriginal Cultural Centre established
The children who were Margaret's helpers grew up to become caretakers of
the land, to erect a museum on the site and to eventually establish an
educational and tourist resource centre. The Minjungbal Aboriginal
Cultural Centre was established in 1988.
Today the Centre comprises an office and shop, refreshment kiosk, a fine
museum, art gallery and an amphitheatre for outdoor performances, a mangrove
boardwalk and walking track and picnic facilities with electric barbecues.
Photo right: Ceremonial dancer © 1998 Minjungbal
Tweed Heads Historic Site
Also known as the Tweed Heads Historic Site, it is a NSW
National Parks and Wildlife Service Historic Site, and features a mangrove boardwalk and walking track
winding through the site, with free
use of the picnic facilities and BBQs.
The Cultural Centre has a fine museum,
and a shop offering aboriginal art, crafts and souvenirs. The shop and museum are open Monday to Thursday, 10am-3pm. $15 per adult,
$7.50 concession and children*
Private tours, small groups, school groups and special interest groups of 20+, are welcome. Indigenous
guides are available by arrangement, to provide guided interpretive tours through the museum and site with its relics,
flora and fauna. For more information telephone (07) 5524 2275.
*Details correct as at 18/12/14.