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WARNING: VISITORS SHOULD BE AWARE THAT THIS BLOG POST INCLUDES IMAGES AND NAMES OF DECEASED PEOPLE THAT MAY CAUSE SADNESS OR DISTRESS, PARTICULARLY TO ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER PEOPLES. IN PARTICULAR, I ACKNOWLEDGE THE ABORIGINAL ANCESTORS WHOSE WORDS ARE QUOTED WITHIN THIS POST, WITH THE GREATEST RESPECT FOR THEIR LEGACY.

Who were the Mogullumbidj, what happened to them, and why aren’t they on any maps of Aboriginal Victoria?

Mount Buffalo

Looking towards Mount Buffalo, across the Ovens Valley from Reform Hill in Myrtleford (image: Jacqui Durrant, 2019)

I’ve titled this blog post ‘the Mysterious Mogullumbidj’. The reason why I describe the Mogullumbidj people as ‘mysterious’, is that as a historian looking through archival materials, I’ve found different groups of Aboriginal people, from the 1840s right through to the end of the 19th century — from locations from Mansfield to Melbourne and Omeo, referring to the people of Mount Buffalo as the ‘Mogullumbidj’ or ‘Mogullumbeek’ (or variations on these spellings), but today, this name is practically unknown outside of obscure academic and historical sources. You will not find Mogullumbidj on many maps of Aboriginal Victoria. Instead, you will sometimes find what to the untrained ear seems like a related term, but which is actually unrelated — ‘Minyambuta’. So the predominant questions I hope to answer in this post are — who were the Mogullumbidj, what happened to them, and why aren’t they ‘on the map’?

Aboriginal society in the alpine valleys of North East Victoria

In order to explain who the Aboriginal people of the Mount Buffalo and surrounding areas were, first it’s necessary to explain the structuring principles which organised Aboriginal society in this part of the world. 

To begin with, when talking about their social organisation with Europeans, it seems that historically, Aboriginal people always identified first and foremost the name of their local area group, which some anthropologists have referred to as ‘clans’, or more recently and more correctly (in my opinion) as ‘areal-moieties’ (a social group attached to a geographical area, with a ‘moiety’ also attached to that group). [1] Local groups actually comprised a number of smaller ‘patri-clans’, which were land-owning families headed up by the male head of that family, but when Aboriginal people identified themselves to Europeans, they generally named their local group (areal-moiety) first and foremost. In this blog post, I will simply refer to these areal-moieties as ‘local groups’. At this time — the 1830s and 1840s — local groups appear to have been the principal unit of identity from an Aboriginal point of view — as least in terms of defining an inherited attachment to an area of land, or rather, the right to manage, utilise and belong to a certain area of country. It’s thought that such a local group would typically comprise a few hundred individuals, [2] and usually they had a core area of country which Europeans would readily associate with the presence of that particular group. 

Only after a massive decline in the Aboriginal population which frequently reduced these local groups from a few hundred to a mere handful of survivors did Aboriginal peoples in north east Victoria begin to drop their local group names, and eventually replace them with the broader language-based names that we see today.

The territorial boundaries of these local groups were likely indicated by landscape features, and people from a different area needed permission to enter that country and make use of its resources. [3]

Each local group was essentially independent, and governed by collective decisions. Insofar as we know, each had one or two heads; who would provide guidance and advice during group discussions, and represent that group at larger meetings in which a number of local groups assembled to make joint decisions. These head positions were neither automatically inherited nor elected. Often a head person, towards the end of his or her life (because women also had some power), would nominate their successor, but that nominee still had to prove their competence and win endorsement. [4]

As an aside, there was communication across different language groups, so most adults were multi-lingual, and etiquette seems to have required that visitors to another language area should make polite efforts to substitute some words of that country. [5]

Usually, the actual name of this local group would have a suffix on the end which denoted its status as a local area group. Closer to Melbourne, the suffix was ‘—[w]illum’ (or ‘—yellum’) meaning ‘dwelling place’ or ‘—balluk’ meaning number of people. However, in north east Victoria, this suffix was ‘—mittung’ (or variations), which also meant a group or number of people. So you get names in the north east like Pallangan-middang, Djinning-mittung, Yait-mathang and so on. [6] Now, I can hear some brains ticking over, and you’re thinking — what about the Mogullumbidj? It’s a local group name, but it has no ‘—mittung’ or ‘—illum’ suffix on the end, which is one part of the mystery we’ll come to, but we do know that in all likelihood, they were a local group, because of the context in which their name was used.

The next tier in the social structure, is that ‘local groups’ were usually a part of a broader group sharing the same language — whether directly or in the form of a dialect. For many of these broader groups, stretching from Melbourne right into North East Victoria, the suffix used to denote these broader groups was ‘-(w)urrung’, which means mouth or speech. In simple terms ‘—wurrung’ denoted a collection of local groups sharing a language. The —wurrung suffix can be heard in the name of the North East Victorian group, Taungurung (Daung-wurrung), and also in ‘Woi-wurrung’, and ‘Ngaurai-illum wurrung’. Further to the north and north-east of the Taungurung, ‘—wurrung’ was replaced by ‘—wurru’, so that one finds a broader group named Waveroo (Way-wurru). The suffix ‘—wurru’ can even be found in a vestigial form in the language name Dhudhuroa (Dhu-dhu-[wu]rru-wa). [7]

In some cases, these broad language groups also considered themselves part of an even larger group, which have been described by non-Aboriginal people as ‘nations’ or ‘confederacies’. One of these ‘nations’, which reached from the Mornington Peninsula and Melbourne, right through the upper Goulburn and Campaspe River Valleys and into North East Victoria, at least as far as the Broken and Delatite Rivers, and perhaps further — was the ‘Kulin’ nation — a block of five broad language groups. All of the Kulin nation’s constituent members shared similar languages, as well as cultural practices and close diplomatic relations. [8]

So — local area group, language group, sometimes ‘nation’. Worth pointing out is Europeans have generally hopelessly confused these different elements in NE Victoria, especially on maps.

The other important organising principal of Aboriginal society within south-eastern Australia, which was generally invisible to Europeans, was the ‘moiety’ system. From the Port Phillip Bay area into North East Victoria and beyond in some cases, each local group belonged to either one of two moieties, which were named for the ancestral creation figures of Bunjil — the eagle hawk, and Waa — the crow. This division between the two moieties effectively divided society into two parts. If you were born into one moiety, you had to marry someone of the opposite moiety — necessarily someone of a different local group. Bunjil always married waa and vice versa. Women went to live on their husband’s country — sometimes to quite distant localities. Moiety affiliations shaped patterns of intermarriage, and therefore also reciprocal rights to resources. As the late anthropologist Diane Barwick once wrote of the Kulin peoples, through the moiety system, ‘District loyalties were thereby extended, and travel and trade with more remote areas were encouraged by the resulting web of kinship ties.’ [9]

One thing we can say about the Mogullumbidj, from information collected by nineteenth century anthropologist Alfred Howitt, who interviewed Wurundjeri elder William Barak, is that the Mogullumbidj were Bunjil — eagle hawk moiety,  which meant that they could have, for example, intermarried with their immediate neighbours to the south, a Taungurung local group of the Mansfield area, Yowen-illum-balak, but not with their Pallangan-middang neighbours just over in Whorouly, Milawa and Beechworth area, who were also Bunjil. [10] In theory, they also could have intermarried with groups like Wurundjeri-illum, a waa local group, whose country reached along the south banks of the Yarra River from about Blackburn, right up to the Northern slopes of the Dandenong ranges. Certainly, Mogullumbidj and Dhudhuroa peoples were remembered by William Barak as having visited their ‘friends at the Dandenong mountain.’ This friendship probably came from kinship ties. [11]

Diplomatic, trade and kinship ties with other groups

The next thing I want to talk about is whether the Mogullumbidj were, like the Taungurung local groups, part of the ‘Kulin nation’.  Right now, it’s of great topical interest that the modern-day Taungurung Lands and Waters Council to the south, which represent the Taungurung peoples of the ‘Kulin nation’, have become the Registered Aboriginal Party (RAP) for an area including Mount Buffalo  — and this claim has been challenged by other local Aboriginal groups. Consequently, I thought I would pose the question as to whether or not the Mogullumbidj can be considered a Taungurung local group, or more broadly, a Kulin local group. I think this is a worthwhile question — not because there is an easy answer, but because in attempting to answer that question, we can actually get a real insight into the complexity of local Aboriginal society at the time of European settlement.

In late 1838, what would become North East Victoria was being ‘settled’ by European pastoralists, and the following year, the colonial government of NSW, appointed its first ‘Aboriginal Protectorate’ for the Port Philip district (which would become Victoria). Headed up by a Chief Protector, George Augustus Robinson, the Protectorate was a mere handful of men, ‘Assistant Protectors’, each stationed in a different area, supposedly to look out for the interests of Aboriginal peoples whose lands had been invaded. The Protectorate was hopelessly underfunded, under-staffed and generally powerless. Despite calls from the Chief Protector of Aborigines, George Augustus Robinson, [12] no Assistant Protector was ever appointed to oversee this north east region. The notes of George Augustus Robinson and his Assistant Protectors, have provided an invaluable historical record of early Aboriginal Victoria, but none them were ever stationed in North East Victoria, or visited certain parts of North East Victoria like Mount Buffalo. This is a major reason why we have nothing recorded about the Mogullumbidj that has come from the Mogullumbidj people themselves. Instead, we only have information about the Mogullumbidj that has come from what Aboriginal people from other areas told various officers of the Aboriginal Protectorate. However, from Aboriginal people who spoke to George Augustus Robinson, and one of his Assistant Protectors, James Dredge, in the 1840s, we know that the Mogullumbidj people of the Buffalo River had country that extended to the south at least as far as Dandongadale and the Wabonga Plateau, to the back of Mount Buller. [13] Beyond this, we know next to nothing about the extent of their country other than what we can establish by exclusion: the fact that they were bounded by country associated with a Gunai-Kurnai local group on the Dargo High Plains, [14] and by the Pallangan-middang local group, whose country included Whorouly, and the King River Valley as far as the confluence of the King and Ovens River at Wangaratta. [15] The Mogullumbidj also would have had various Dhudhuroa-speaking neighbours to their north east and east. [16]

The Kulin peoples to the south, [17] and other people of the Victorian alpine region, [18] referred to the people of the Buffalo River as ‘Mo-gullum-bidj’ or variations of this (like ‘Mokeallumbeet’). As I said before, this name has no typical north-east Victorian suffix of ‘—mittung’ on the end, and nor does it have a typical Kulin suffix of ‘—illum’ or ‘—baluk’ on the end. Almost all the Taungurung local groups had an ‘—illum or ‘—baluk’ suffix, donating Kulin connections, but not so with the Mogullumbidj. It is possible that ‘—bidj’ is an actual suffix, and that it denotes something in particular, but unfortunately we just don’t know. And there are other possible explanations — that ‘Mogullumbidj’ may have, for example, been a descriptive term, applied by other peoples who for some reason didn’t want to speak the ‘Mogullumbidj’s’ self-designated name aloud. Ian Clark has also come up with alternative theories for their unusual name. [19] In essence, their name alone cannot help us understand their cultural position, other than to suggest something separate or possibly special about them.

So if their actual name tells us very little about where they fit in culturally, then perhaps we can consider their diplomatic relations with other groups: Who were they on good terms with, for trade and cultural exchange; and who were they hostile towards? In 1844, George Augustus Robinson undertook a journey which took him through Gippsland, Omeo, and the Monaro, to Twofold Bay (Eden), then over to Albury and back down to Melbourne. [20] For the part of the journey which would take him to Omeo, he was guided by an Aboriginal man from Omeo, whose conferred name was ‘Charley’, and it was Charley who explained to Robinson that ‘The Yowenillum are mermate with Mokeallumbeet, then Dodora, then Kinimittum, then Omeo.’ [21] The term ‘mermate’ or ‘mey-met’ means that the Yowung-illum-balluk were on unfriendly terms with the Mogullumbidj, Dodora, Djinning-mittung and Yaitmathang, which were all adjoining groups of the alpine valleys. Whether Charley was overstating the fact about this Taungurung group being at odds with the others, or over-simplifying things for Robinson, we’ll never know. But what’s interesting about this grouping is that the local groups are actually listed in consecutive geographical order from west to east — suggesting that Charley had a very clear picture in his mind of this allied block of alpine peoples reaching from Mount Buffalo to Omeo.

The same local group names appeared again in Robinson’s journal, written while he was on the Tambo River. He recorded that ‘Two miles above the crossing place up the stream is the spot where a great slaughter of Gipps Land blacks by the Omeo and the Mokeallumbeets and Tinnermittum, their allies, took place; [I] was shown the spot by… Charley…’ [22] Once again, this can be seen as an expression of an alpine-based group alliance against a common enemy, in this case, the Kurnai peoples of Gippsland.

So there’s some evidence that the Mogullumbidj were on unfriendly terms with the Kurnai and perhaps some Taungurung local groups, and that they were allied in battle with other alpine groups. However, what I can now say, with the overview that a historical perspective provides, is that Robinson’s guide Charley was seemingly unaware of what was then a very recent event — and this was that, only the preceding summer to that journey with Robinson, the Mogullumbidj had actually travelled to Melbourne and undertaken a special new ceremony (called a ‘Gaiggip’) with the Yowung-illum-balluk and other Kulin groups in order to ‘make friends’. [23]

That summer of 1843-44, the Mogullumbidj people visited Yarra Bend (where Merri Creek meets the Yarra) in Melbourne, for a large ceremonial gathering with Kulin peoples, which involved 800 people of seven different groups. The ‘gaiggip’ ceremony, which they had brought with them, was recorded in a good amount of detail at the time by another Assistant Protector of Aborigines in Melbourne, William Thomas. He wrote that the ceremony, which ran for six days, consisted of seven different dances: the first six involved an individual weapon of war, but the 7th dance was with a leafy bough — the emblem of peace. Each group was represented by its own bark emblem ‘each of which has a division of seven patches of “wurup” (an emblem of joy & cheerfulness), and at the end of the ceremony, these were ‘collected together and put in the centre of the encampment in silence, proclaiming goodwill to all around.’ [24]

One can speculate that when the Mogullumbidj participated in the gaiggip ceremony in Melbourne to ‘make friends’ with the various Kulin groups, that they were in the process of realigning their diplomatic relations, and perhaps were even being newly incorporated into the Kulin polity. This should be considered in context: that the early 1840s was an unprecedented period of social turmoil and upheaval, in which Aboriginal people were dealing with a horrific destruction of their lands and people — and that this social upheaval may have encouraged previously disparate Aboriginal groups to unite in their common struggle for cultural, spiritual and everyday survival.

Indeed one newspaper report of the day, in which a European man asked some Kulin people what the gaiggip was about, he recorded that the ceremony was ‘an incantation — the intention of which is to remove the terrible epidemic under which so many of them are labouring.’ [25] I’m certain that this was an extraordinarily over-simplified explanation, but it still conveys a sense of urgent response to the circumstances of the day.

What language did the Mogullumbidj speak?

The other thing we might consider about the Mogullumbidj in trying to determine where they fit in culturally, is to ask what language they spoke. In Melbourne, assistant protector William Thomas did manage to record six words of Mogullumbidj language. Six words isn’t a lot to go on, but on the basis of what we have, leading La Trobe University linguist Stephen Morey has concluded that the Mogullumbidj clearly spoke Dhudhuroa language. [26]

And there’s other evidence to suggest they spoke at least a form of Dhudhuroa language. Just after the turn of the century, amateur ethnographer RH Mathews interviewed a Djinning-mittang man from the lower Mitta Mitta valley, Neddy Wheeler, who said that his people spoke Dhudhuroa, and that surrounding peoples south of the Murray River spoke — at least what Mathews recorded as a ‘dialect of Dhudhuroa’ — called ‘Minyambuta.’ According to Mathews, Minyambuta was spoken from Wangaratta to Bright, to Beechworth, Mount Buffalo, and even in Benalla. [27]  Supporting evidence includes that in 1844, a Pallanganmiddang man Mol.le.min.ner gave George Augustus Robinson a vocabulary of his own peoples’ language (which Robinson recorded as ‘Pallangan-middang’), but Mol.le.min.ner also added that when at Yackandandah, his people spoke ‘Min-u-buddong’. [28] Decades later, when Alfred Howitt asked the Wurunjeri elder William Barak if he could remember what language the Mogullumbidj spoke, he answered ‘Yambun’, which sounds like a foreshortened version of Min-yambun. [29] So we have three historical records of the term: ‘Minyambuta’ ‘Minubuddong’ and (possibly) Min-‘yambun’. There is just one complicating factor in all this — that Mathews’ description of the area in which Minyambuta was spoken, overlaps heavily with the area in which Pallangan-middang was spoken, so either Minyambuta and Pallanganmiddang are the same language (bearing in mind that Pallanganmiddang had a 25% commonality with Dhudhuroa), [30] or that one language gradually ‘bled’ into the other depending on your location and perhaps who you were talking with — meaning that Minyambuta was the term for this ‘language strategy,’ rather than an actual dialect.

(As an aside, it is important to note that ‘Minyambuta’ is language term, not a people, and also that it is certainly not a word meaning ‘hills and ranges’ — even though Norman Tindale mapped it in 1974 seemingly as a people who lived among hills and ranges! Also, if you see it spelled ‘Minjambuta,’ the use of the J in place of a Y simply reflects a fashion in linguistics from the 1970s. You will also see Yorta Yorta appear on maps in the 1970s as Jota Jota.)

The bottom line is that in Melbourne, William Thomas was so proficient in Woiwurrung and Boonwurrung languages that he could deliver parts of his religion sermons in those Kulin languages, [31] but when he heard Mogullumbidj people speaking, it was incomprehensible to him. [32] Therefore it is unlikely the Mogullumbidj spoke a Kulin language as their first language.

And there is one other point worth considering about language. The song performed at the gaiggip ceremony, which was brought to Melbourne by the Mogullumbidj and their Taungurung neighbours, and was written down, seems to have been sung in one of the Yuin languages [33] — which I  note includes Ngarigu, which was spoken in different forms from the Snowy Mountains to the Monaro and Omeo. The presence of this language at a ceremony in Melbourne demonstrates a great cultural connectivity between the Aboriginal groups of the alpine areas from the Snowy mountains right down to Mount Buffalo and Mount Buller.

The Mogullumbidj and cultural knowledge

Despite the fact that we know very little about the exact place of the Mogullumbidj in the wider Aboriginal society, we do know that they were a people who held significant, sacred cultural knowledge. When in 1843, William Thomas inquired with a Taungurung man about the history of the gaiggip ceremony that had been brought to Melbourne with the Mogullumbidj, he was told in no uncertain terms that there was, in the Alps, a group of Aboriginal people called the Bul-lun.ger.metum (Bullunger-mittung) who lived in stone houses of their own making, and who never went out to seek their own food, but instead ate herbs and relied on what others brought them, and they focused solely on creating new sacred songs and dances. [34] These people were something akin to a superior religious class, but which Thomas would later classify as Aboriginal druids. [35] These ‘great wise blacks’ were responsible for teaching song and dance to people from Omeo, to Mansfield, Benalla and Wangaratta, and as far as the Murrumbidgee River and even to Eden on the coast. And when one of these groups had a gaiggip ceremony with another, from that time they were friends. [36]

Moreover, different Aboriginal peoples sent their own ‘doctors’ to these druids in order to learn, but by the same token, the druids were able to make other people dream, or they could appear before them, to show them new dances (and by the term ‘dances’, we should infer a much deeper form of sacred and cultural knowledge than what non-Aboriginal peoples would generally imagine). Thomas also would later write that ‘I am informed that from these sages of the rocks or druids have sprung [this] new series of sacred dances with such curious effigies, altogether new from any thing that has as yet been heard or seen among the Aborigines of Victoria.’ [37]

Clearly, if the Mogullumbidj weren’t the actual druids in question, they were in close contact with them, and able to transmit the sacred cultural and spiritual information encoded in these new forms of ceremony, song and dance, to the wider world.

When the revered head man of the Mogullumbidj, Kullakullup, came to Melbourne in March 1845, [38] he was of advanced age, but hundreds of people from different Kulin groups assembled at what is now Yarra Bend park to receive his teachings. Thomas wrote that, ‘the sight was truly imposing’… Kullakullup was idolised to the point where at each daybreak people assembled in crescent rows, and sat in profound silence while, in Thomas’s words, the ‘Old Patriarch would be holding forth as though laying down some code of laws for their guidance or giving instructions… I often endeavour’d to catch his words and pencil them down as well as I could but in vain, the old Idol and Chief would immediately stop on my approach.’ [39]

Thomas eventually made inquiries with one of the men attending Kullakullup’s teachings — Billibellary, who was an influential Wurunjeri head-man and song-man in his own right. Billibellary told William Thomas that Kullerkullup had spoken of this class of druid-like people who lived in the Alps who created corroborees for everyone, and Kullerkullup also said that he received corroborees communicated to him in dreams. It is likely that Billibellary was not communicating to Thomas the full scope of what was being taught by Kullakullup, but Thomas was left with the impression that the much venerated headman had been ‘laying down some code of laws (for their guidance) or giving instructions’. [40] Unfortunately for us, this seems to be the only remaining record we have of this venerable headman of Mount Buffalo.

What happened to the Mogullumbidj people?

In North East Victoria, there was a huge decline in the local Aboriginal population from mid-1838 onwards. For years this was blamed in retrospect on the introduction of European diseases, and then the excess consumption of alcohol. And it is true that lethal new diseases like small pox and syphilis brought on a massive loss of life and also caused infertility.

However, the population decline among local Aboriginal people in the immediate decade from 1838 onwards was predominantly by illegal poisoning and shooting, carried out by European settlers. When asked about this population decline 20 years later, at an 1858 Select Committee of the NSW Legislative Council, most of those questioned — all European men of some social and economic standing from around Victoria — avoided the awful truth by referring only to events of the preceding decade. However, Mr Wills of Omeo replied, ‘The mortality has been… caused by intoxicating drinks and the worst form of venereal disease, and last though not least, by gunshot wounds inflicted by stockmen.’ [41]

Can we say that this happened to the Mogullumbidj people of Mount Buffalo?

When visiting the region in February 1841, a little over two years after the first permanent arrival of Europeans, George Augustus Robinson wrote of pastoralist George Faithfull at Oxley on the King River, that ‘Faithful has the credit for having shot a number of blacks in his time and for having encouraged his men who were convicts.’ [42] Faithful even later recorded in a letter to Govenor La Trobe his shooting of Aboriginal people on the King River; [43] and towards the end of his life, Faithfull’s stockman James Howard would reminiscence in The Argus newspaper about Faithfull’s men having shot more than 200 Aboriginal people in one day, leaving bodies along the river. [44] 

Significantly, it was George Faithful and his brutal convict servants who were the first to take up the Buffalo River area as a heifer station in the summer of 1839-40. [45] At the time it was a remote location beyond the reach of the Border Police, and there is no record of what happened. Sadly, this post cannot begin to touch on the level of brutality of the Europeans at this time, the factors which enabled the massacres to happen and go unpunished, and the impact that this had on Aboriginal people.

However, it is worth noting that some Aboriginal people in north east Victoria survived and did their utmost to stay on country; and that they retained their traditional seasonal patterns of movement well after European settlement, for as long as possible. Certainly, in Beechworth, the gold rush era of the 1850s overlapped with Aboriginal people still living a traditional lifestyle, as best they could manage. We even have a photograph of Aboriginal people in the Mount Buffalo area probably from the late 19th century, who are clearly living a partly Europeanised but still partly traditional existence, and we know that they continued to use a campsite at Nug Nug until the closing decades of the 19th century. [46] While some were pushed onto religious missions and government reserves off country, others integrated into European society as station-hands and household servants — their children and grandchildren progressively concealed their Aboriginality, and so they disappeared from the historical record, but interestingly, some are now being rediscovered as ancestors, by their descendants of today.

To return to my initial questions, of who were the Mogullumbidj, what happened to them, and why aren’t the Mogullumbidj ‘on the map’? The answer to who they were is complicated: they were a local group who considered the Buffalo River valley a part of their country, and who — at least around the time of early Aboriginal-European contact — had alliances against common foes with a range of ‘—mittung’ local groups of the alpine valleys and ranges, not just on the western side of the Alps, but over to Omeo. The Mogullumbidj were, it seems, one possible conduit through which a special class of stone-house-dwelling Aboriginal ‘druids’ passed on new and sacred forms of song and dance; and they also had a widely revered headman in Kullakullup, who transmitted valuable cultural and spiritual information from the alps to as far away as as Melbourne. And within a few years of European settlement, it seems that the Mogullumbidj were either forging new, or strengthen existing, diplomatic relations with the Kulin peoples. Why aren’t they on most maps? The short answer is that local group names, or ‘clan’ names, particularly in north east Victoria, rapidly fell from use, and instead have been replaced with broader language-based group names. The debate about which broader group name should be associated with the people of Mount Buffalo is still continuing among Aboriginal groups today.

References

[1] Tony Jeffries, ‘The Eastern Kulin Confederacy: Did it exist? If so, what were its features?’ Forthcoming paper to be published in Artefact (journal of the Archaeological and Anthropological Society of Victoria).
[2] Gary Presland, First People: The Eastern Kulin of Melbourne, Port Phillip & Central Victoria, Museum of Victoria, Melbourne, 2010, p.18.
[3] Diane Barwick, ‘Mapping the Past: An Atlas of Victorian Clans 1835-1904,’ Aboriginal History, Vol. 8, 1984, pp100-131. This reference, p. 106; Gary Presland, op. cit. p.16.
[4] Diane Barwick, ibid., pp: 107-8.
[5] Diane Barwick, ibid., p.105.
[6] Diane Barwick, ibid, p.106, including footnote 9.
[7] Clark, Ian, ‘Aboriginal languages in North-east Victoria – the status of ‘Waveru’ reconsidered’, Journal of Australian Indigenous Issues, 2011, Vol. 14(4): 2-22 [see this discussion of ‘Waywurru’ in this paper]; Barry J. Blake and Julie Reid, ‘The Dhudhuroa language of northeastern Victoria: a description based on historical sources,’ ABORIGINAL HISTORY, 2002, VOL 26, pp: 177-210, this reference, p.179
[8] Diane Barwick, op. cit., pp:104-6.; Gary Presland, op. cit.
[9] Diane Barwick, ibid, p.105.
[10] A large list of areal-moieties is contained in Alfred Howitt’s notebook XM690; and information specifically about the Mogullumbidj appears in Alfred Howitt’s notebook XM765, p.12 (both held in Museum of Victoria archives).
[11] Alfred Howitt notebook: hw0391 ‘Notes by Howitt on Kulin from Barak,’ p.96. This is held at the State Library of Victoria.
Barak explains to Howitt that it was Theddora-mittung (Dhudhuroa) who came to Melbourne as ‘friends of the Kulin of the Dandenong Mountain’, and this is discussed in relation to visits of the Mogullumbidj to Melbourne.
[12] British Parliamentary Papers, Despatches of Governors of Australian Colonies, illustrative of Conditions of Aborigines, House of Commons, Paper Series: House of Commons Papers, Paper Type: Accounts and Papers Parliament: 1844, Paper Number: 627; p.85-87-96; p,106, p.124, p.237-238, p.281. This reference, p.109. Robinson wrote: ‘I am induced under the current circumstances to recommend a subordinate agent be appointed to the Ovens district.’
[13] Assistant Protector of Aborigines James Dredge told George Augustus Robinson that the Mogullumbidj occupied country on ‘Hunter and Watson’s outermost station’. [James Dredge, cited by Robinson, 9 April 1840, in Ian Clark (ed.), The Journals of George Augustus Robinson, and this same information was repeated to Robinson by a group of Kulin speakers in Taungurung lands, to the effect that the Mogullumbidj lived on country at Hunter and Watson’s beyond Marine and Warinebut, to the SE.’ [Robinson, 1 June 1840] (That is beyond Marine and Warinebut, meaning Mount Buller and Timbertop).
[14] Alfred Howitt, notebook XM690, p.51; held at Museum of Victoria archives; accessible (with other materials referenced here) via the Howitt and Fison Archives.
[15] The evidence for this is contained in my essay ‘Who were the Aboriginal people of Beechworth? A historical perspective’ published on this blog.
[16] Clark, Ian, ‘Dhudhuroa and Yaithmathang languages and social groups in north-east Victoria – a reconstruction,’ ABORIGINAL HISTORY, 2009 VOL 33, pp.201-229, offers the best explanation to date of the Dhudhuroa and Yaitmathang areal moiety groups. For all that Clark gets right, I do not agree completely with his assessment of the Yaitmathang, but this is a matter unrelated to this post.
[17] Alfred Howitt’s information from William Barak, is an example of a Kulin person referring to the ‘Mogullum-bitch’. (See: Alfred Howitt, hw0391 Notes by Howitt on Kulin from Barak, p.96 held at the State Library of Victoria.)
[18] An example of an Omeo (Yaitmathang) man referring to the ‘Mokeallumbeet’ is found in the The Journals of George Augustus Robinson, entry for 3 June 1844.
[19] Ian Clark, ‘Aboriginal language areas in Northeast Victoria: ‘Mogullumbidj’ reconsidered.’ Victorian Historical Journal, Volume 81 Issue 2 (Nov 2010), 181-192.
[20] George Mackaness (ed.), George Augustus Robinson’s journey into south-eastern Australia, 1844, with George Henry Haydon’s narrative of part of the same journey. Australian Historical Monographs, Volume XIX, Sydney, 1941.
[21] The Journals of George Augustus Robinson, entry for 3 June 1844.
[22] Robinson, entry for 15 June 1844.
[23] Excerpt from a ‘
Quarterly Report from 1 Dec 1843 to 1 March 1844′ by William Thomas, contained in: Marguerita Stephens, The Journal of William Thomas, Assistant Protector of the Aborigines of Port Phillip & Guardian to the Aborigines of Victoria 1839-1867, Volume One: 1839-1843, VCAL, Melbourne, 2014, page 572-3, footnote 240. See also the same transcribed in: Christie, M F, 1979. Aborigines in Colonial Victoria 1835-1886. Sydney University Press, p.19. Note: Stephens had partly mis-transcribed the Report, and my information comes from a combination of Christie and Stephens.
[24] ibid.
[25] 
‘ORIGINAL CORRESPONDENCE. ABORIGINAL CEREMONY.’ Letter from J. H. McCabe, published in the Port Philip Gazette, Saturday, 11 February, 1843, p.3.
[26] Stephen Morey, Indigenous Songs of Victoria, in section ‘3.4.9.1 The Tanderrum Ceremony,’ publication forthcoming, hopefully soon in 2020. (Personal comment: I believe this book will become extremely important in our understanding of Aboriginal Victoria.)
[27] R. H. Matthews, MS 8006, Series 3, Item 4, Volume 2 [Marked on notebook ‘6’], pp.38, 40; and R H Mathews, MS8006 Series 5 File 3 Box 6, ‘The Dhudhuroa Language,’ material held at National Library of Australia.
It is very important to note that Matthews’ writings, after having communicated with Dhudhuroa-speaker Neddy Wheeler, are the primary source of the term ‘Minyambuta’, and are also the sole source used by Tindale, who actually mapped it in 1974 as if the term referred to an identifiable people. When one reads Matthews’ manuscript materials, it is apparent that it is not a people.
[28] Journals of George Augustus Robinson (ed. Ian Clark), entry for 30 September, 1844.
[29] Diane Barwick, manuscript material MS 13521, at the State Library of Victoria, Series 4, 4006, folder 1248.
In a note at the bottom of a page on the ‘Mokalumbeets’, Barwick has written ‘Mo-gullum-bitch tribe of Buffalo Rivber – name of language was Yambun  (Shaw to Howitt 27.7.00) (says Barak), and in pencil ‘Barak info in 1900 letter Shaw to Howitt named language of Mogullumbitch is Yambun’. (Personal comment: I have not been able to locate the original letter yet. If you know of its whereabouts, please let me know.)
[30] Barry J. Blake and Julie Reid, ‘Pallanganmiddang: a language of the Upper Murray,’ Aboriginal History, 1999, Vol. 23, pp.15-30. This reference, p.17.
[31] Throughout William Thomas’s journal (Stephens, Volume One, op. cit.) one can see Thomas initially lamenting his lack of Aboriginal language skills, and his intentional building of those skills so that he can give lessons and sermons using local languages.
[32] William Thomas wrote in his journal on 22 March 1845 of the Mogullumbidj  ‘I cannot understand a word of their language.’ in Marguerita Stephens, The Journal of William Thomas, Assistant Protector of the Aborigines of Port Phillip & Guardian to the Aborigines of Victoria 1839-1867, Volume Two: 1844-1853, VCAL, Melbourne, 2014, p.94.
[33] Stephen Morey, op. cit., in the section ‘3.4.9.2 Text of the Gaiggip and notes on the analysis’. On the basis of linguistic analysis, Morey notes: ‘It seems possible that the language of this Gaiggip was either Gippsland or one of the Yuin languages. ‘ I would personally suggest that it was far more likely to have been a Yuin language, and most likely Ngarigu, based on the poor diplomatic relationship with the Gippsland peoples at this time, and the strong possibility of kin and other relations between the various alpine peoples.
[34] William Thomas in Stephens, Volume One, op. cit. For the actual name of the Aboriginal ‘druids,’ which Thomas records as having the name Bullunger-metum (in which the suffix —metum is a cognate of the common alpine suffix —mittung), see Morey, op cit.
[35] William Thomas, in Stephens, Volume One, ibid.
[36] ibid.
[37] William Thomas in ‘Paper No.11 ‘Superior Races’ sent to Duffy on 13 July 1858,’ in Marguerita Stephens, The Journal of William Thomas, Assistant Protector of the Aborigines of Port Phillip & Guardian to the Aborigines of Victoria 1839-1867, Volume Two: 1844 to 1853, VCAL, Melbourne, 2014, page 95, continuation of footnote 49.
[38] William Thomas, ‘Writing’ entitled “Native Encampment”, (The fourth of the papers prepared by William Thomas for Charles Gavan Duffy and sent in on 25/5/58. [Box 3 item 1/R3f59], Mitchell Library) in Marguerita Stephens, The Journal of William Thomas, Assistant Protector of the Aborigines of Port Phillip & Guardian to the Aborigines of Victoria 1839-1867, Volume Two: 1844 to 1853, VCAL, Melbourne, 2014, page 94, footnote 49.
[39] ibid.
[40] ibid.
[41] REPORT SELECT COMMITTEE OF THE LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL — THE ABORIGINES; John Ferres, Government Printer, Melbourne, 1858-9, p.29.
[42] Journals of George Augustus Robinson (ed. Ian Clark), entry for: Monday, 15 February 1841.
[43] Letter from George Faithfull to Lieutenant-Governor LaTrobe, Letter number No. 27. in Thomas Francis McBride (ed.) Letters from Victorian Pioneers, A Series of Papers on the Early Occupation of the Colony, the Aborigines, etc, Addressed by Victorian Pioneers to His Excellency Charles Joseph LaTrobe, Esq, Lieutenant Governor of the Colony of Victoria, Trustees of the Public Library of Victoria, Melbourne, 1898.
Faithfull describes the site of the shooting as being on an ‘anabranch’ of the River, which when correlated with stockman James Howard’s account (footnote below), would appear to be Hurdle Creek on the King River.
[44] ‘SETTLEMENT IN THE KELLY COUNTRY (BY OUR SPECIAL REPORTER),’ The Argus, 13 September, 1883, p.9.
[45] ‘COUNTRY NEWS. (From various Correspondents) THE OVENS,’ The Sydney Herald, 8 July 1840, p.1
[46] Kay Robertson, Myrtleford, Gateway to the Alps, Rigby, Adelaide, 1973, p.98.