Culture on Country

Hayden Wood

The Coonamble area and the banks of the Castlereagh are home to the traditional custodians of the area, the Wailwan people, closely neighboured by the Gamilaroi people to the north and east.

Coonamble and its surrounding districts are home to many culturally significant items, such as scarred trees, bora grounds, artefacts, and burial grounds. Many of these items can be found along the Castlereagh River. These places and items hold significant value to the local community.

Tin Town

Aboriginal people lived in Tin Town/The Island during the ‘protectionist’ era in Coonamble.

As the name implies, most people lived in makeshift huts or gunyahs that were constructed from sheets of corrugated iron, bark, wood, and leaves.

Tin Town existed from the early 1900s until the last family left The Island in 1978.

Sharing a Wailwan Story

Sharing a Wailwan Story is an education kit that provides a rare insight into the culture of the Wailwan people.

This education kit accompanies an exhibition at Quambone that is made up of six graphic panels, two albums of 31 photos and a short video of Wailwan songs. The stories and songs can be heard at the Coonamble Visitor Information and Exhibition Centre.

The focus of the exhibition is the photos of Aboriginal people taken in 1898 on Wailwan land, near the Macquarie River. They are on land near Quambone, at a camp and a bora (ceremonial) ground.

The original glass-plate negatives, from which the photos were printed, became part of the Powerhouse Museum collection in 1984. In 1995, the Powerhouse initiated a project of consultation about this cultural material with both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities in the region.

Bora ceremonies were very important for trading, and to pass on cultural knowledge. Many of the ceremonies included neighbouring tribes, often involving the Gamilaroi and Wiradjuri people. The Quambone area is still home to bora grounds, burials, and many artefacts. It was also home to Billie, King of the Macquarie. The Macquarie Mashes are still considered an important and significant site for Indigenous culture.