Waringh Waringh: a history of Aboriginal People in the Warwick Area and their Land

Parsons, David (2003) Waringh Waringh: a history of Aboriginal People in the Warwick Area and their Land. David Parsons, Maryvale, Queensland. ISBN 0 646 42426 2

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[Preface]: This book is dedicated to the First People of the Warwick area. The portrayal of history in Australia frequently neglects to address Aboriginal people at all or with the importance they deserve. In particular, accounts of history often fail to address the contribution of Aboriginal people to the prosperity of our
nation and the substantial impact Aboriginal culture, tradition, lifestyle and language has had. In this book I hope to contribute to an understanding by other Australians of Aboriginal people of the present by recognising the history of those Aboriginal people of the Warwick area.

The contents of this book have been shown to and discussed in part with Sam and Ethelynn Bonner who are First People of this area and who are therefore Traditional Owners. If there are other First People of the area who I do not know, I extend my apologies to them and hope that there is nothing written here which may concern them.

Regrettably the vast majority of historical information
concerning Aboriginal people has been recorded by European
people and mainly by European males who had above average
social status by virtue of wealth or profession. The writings regularly show evidence of the writers’ perceptions of themselves as superior to the people of whom they were writing. However in many cases such writings are the only sources of information and I have attempted to interpret those writings in the light of current understanding and attitudes.

Some of the scanty information about how people lived in
traditional times has been interpreted in the light of more
general knowledge of how Aboriginal groups lived in other areas of Australia. However the wording should allow the reader to easily distinguish between specifically local knowledge and that more general knowledge.

Warwick Shire today covers area traditionally held by two
groups of people. To the west there were the Gnarabal people and to the east the Gidhaba people. The approximate
boundaries of the Gidhabal area are shown on the map on page 231 Most of the information in this book refers to the Gidhabal people and their area because that area forms the major part of the Warwick Shire.

There is some confusion about the naming of the traditional
owners to the east of Warwick because the European way of
thinking and grouping does not coincide with the traditional Aboriginal grouping. The Gidhabal people occupied an area from about Woodenbong in NSW to Allora in the north. Their language is very similar to that spoken by people in a much larger area extending to the coast in the east and to well south of Lismore and scholars now refer to this group as the Bundjalung speaking people. To further confuse the issue, there was a clan of the Gidhabal people living mainly between Warwick and Killarney known as the Geynyan people. Their language was only occasionally different to the main Gidhabal language.

This history then is mainly a contribution by a person of
European background to the education of other non-
Indigenous people in order that we might act to restore
Aboriginal people to their rightful place as the First People of this community. In the following paragraphs, I will tell something of my own history so that readers may make their own interpretations of what I have written.

I am of European descent (mainly English but with a bit of
Spanish) with an Aboriginal family which is described below. I am aware that my interpretations have been coloured by the perspectives inherent in who I am – my ethnicity, my gender and my class. This history has been written however as a genuine attempt to put on record as much as possible of what has been recorded about Warwick's First People. It also represents my own personal attempt to understand how the people lived in this land and how present people have been affected by the Invasion.

I was born into a modest land-owning family in the New
England area of NSW of a mother from a reasonably well-off
background and a father from a poor farming background. My
mother’s family had owned considerable areas of land in that area for several generations and so by implication my ancestors must have been closely associated with taking land from Aboriginal people. My father’s family were also land holders but on a more struggling level and my grandmother in particular had an unusual sympathy for the plight of the Aboriginal people who used to live in her area in the late 1800s.

As a child on the central coast of NSW I scarcely knew of the existence of Aboriginal people and so was somewhat disgusted to discover in adolescence that many were living in extreme poverty in makeshift shelters. I visited an Aboriginal camp near the Armidale tip in about 1959 and another near Nowra in about 1963 which began to make the facts abundantly clear to me. From then on throughout my life, I have endeavored to find ways to do something to improve things. These activities have included working in the Gurindji Campaign in the 1960s to help those people get back their land in the Northern Territory, helping to run a before-school breakfast program in Sydney,
helping at an after school homework centre in Sydney, and
more recently working with a variety of groups in Warwick.
My wife and I adopted three children of Aboriginal descent with the promise to ourselves that we would “grow them up” to be proud of their ancestry. My wife has also discovered since our marriage that her olive skin colouring and her father's and grandmother's colouring and features came from an Aboriginal ancestry. We also have two biological children and I am thus the only non-Indigenous person in my own immediate family.

As a consequence of all these experiences, I and my family have always valued other Aboriginal people, and encouraged our children to be proud of their heritage. We have also sought to act to redress the inequalities suffered by many Indigenous people which have flowed from the dispossession by my ancestors and conscious that much of our own material wellbeing has come because of the benefits of this stolen land.

Since living in the Warwick area it has become apparent to me that many non-Aboriginal people of the area are ignorant of the facts of the dispossession of the Aboriginal people. While this ignorance persists, Aboriginal people will continue to be discriminated against and suffer the economic and social
penalties which follow.

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Item Type: Book (Commonwealth Reporting Category A)
Refereed: No
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Self-published - copyright permission provided.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Engineering and Surveying - Department of Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering (Up to 30 Jun 2013)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Engineering and Surveying - Department of Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering (Up to 30 Jun 2013)
Date Deposited: 08 Dec 2008 01:39
Last Modified: 21 Sep 2016 03:01
Uncontrolled Keywords: Aboriginal; Warwick
Fields of Research (2008): 21 History and Archaeology > 2103 Historical Studies > 210301 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander History
Fields of Research (2020): 45 INDIGENOUS STUDIES > 4501 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, language and history > 450107 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/4687

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