Influence Of The Goldfields On Koorie Culture

Artisans - 21st Century Australian Dot Painting
26) Bark Gunya

Like the rest of the eastern seaboard, displacement of Aboriginals occurred first with the penal colony, then with the development of farming and timber getting.


Long before the gold rush started, culturally significant areas (sacred sites) were disturbed, or entirely destroyed through the ignorance of the European settlers. 

With Gold  Fever, this was made worse.  Prospectors dug 20 metres into creek banks in search of alluvial deposits. This destroyed natural habitats and bush tucker sites most of which have never recovered. Sacred sites have never been restored or re-discovered. The use of mercury and cyanide in the tinning process, left toxic metal waste in fresh water drinking sites, contaminating for both human and fauna. This series of events then led to the breakdown of the food chain and the natural rhythm and cycle of the nomads sustenance and very existence.

The Araluen Gold fields covered an area which was high in natural resources and the Yuen Nation had had less need for a nomadic lifestyle before European intervention. Their displacement was very rapid.

Skin names  of the south coast area and the Yuen Nation were effectively lost because the displacement was so rapid, and before Europeans recognised the importance of  skin-names . This was not lost across Central Australia. From there we can learn about the complex system of Kinship and Skin Names which are features of Aboriginal social organisation and family relations. An individual is given a skin name at birth based on the skin names of the parents, to indicate which section or subsection of a region the individual belongs to.

Changes Today

The Original Gold Rush Colony Mogo is in an area where there is a resurgence in the use of skin names.
Through modern technology, the concepts that have survived in the Northern Territory etc, are now being adapted to our area.  Primary schools now have Aboriginal Liason Officers. The use of smart boards are improving the learning opportunities at an exponential rate. Mogo Primary School can link with Broulee and Sunshine Bay for students to learn Durga the Koorie dialect spoken in this small region of the south coast. 

Further Reading