History

Gunaikurnai

Gunaikurnai people are the Traditional Owners of Gippsland. There are approximately 3,000 Gunaikurnai people, and their territory includes the coastal and inland areas to the southern slopes of the Victorian Alps. Gunaikurnai people are made up of five major clans.

Creation Story

In dreaming terms, the first Gunaikurnai came down from the mountains in Victoria’s northwest carrying his canoe on his head. He was Borun, the pelican. He crossed over the river at what is now Sale, and walked on alone to Tarra Warackel (Port Albert) in the west. As he walked, he heard a constant tapping sound but could not identify it. When he reached the deep water of the inlets, Borun put down his canoe and, much to his surprise, there was a woman in it. She was Tuk, the musk duck.

He was very happy to see her and she became his wife and the mother of the Gunaikurnai people - they are the parents of the five Gunaikurnai clans.

Den of Nargun

The cave where the Nargun lived, called the Den of Nargun, is found on Woolshed Creek, a small tributary of the Mitchell River in the Mitchell River National Park, about one kilometre upstream from where the creek joins the river. After heavy rainfall, the opening of the cave may be hidden by a waterfall. The den was once rimmed with stalactites, but unfortunately these have been broken off as souvenirs by visitors over the years.

The area is a site of high Aboriginal cultural significance, and is located on the Batuluk Aboriginal Cultural Trail. Stories were told around Aboriginal campfires about how the half stone, half human Nargun would abduct children who visited the rock pool. It was said the Nargun could not be harmed with boomerangs or spears, as they would be reflected back to the thrower. The Den of Nargun was considered a special place for women of the Gunai tribe and was used for women’s initiation and learning ceremonies.

Mitchell River National Park
Little River Gorge, Snowy River National Park
Den of Nargun, Mitchell River NP
Photo by David Rayside
Pelican, Lake King
Photo by David Rayside