A brief overview
(Provided as a general introduction only - should you wish to find out more, please refer to our links section).
Early European naivety, which also permeates through to modern perceptions, viewed Indigenous Australians as one people. Aboriginal culture in Australia is no more homogenous than European Australia, but is a diverse and interlaced association of many different cultures that, along with Torres Strait Islander peoples, make up the fabric that we refer to today as Indigenous Australia.
Aboriginal Culture can be traced back at least 45,000 years and within the Outback NSW many Aboriginal 'groups' can be identified. Within this region, most of these groups lived along the many water courses that make up the Darling Basin and today they live in the towns of the area; no less connected to the area and its geological features as their forbears.
The Warrego, Lachlan, Paroo, Barwon, Murray and Darling Rivers provided not only a cultural basis for the people but also sustained life by affording food supply from the waterways and surrounding areas. The largest of these groups is the Barkindji, whose region stretches from Wentworth all the way along the Darling and up to Wilcannia and Tilpa Ã¢â‚¬â€œ although their concentration was traditionally greater in the southern regions of the river. The ndigenous name for the river which we now know as the Darling is 'Barka' and the Barkindji literally means the people of the Barka (the river).
To the uninitiated, the NSW outback may appear to be on homogenous land but when one experiences the outback one soon appreciates the diversity of the land in this region and this multiplicity is reflected in the different indigenous groups that were and are custodians of these lands. The major groups (as identified by DECC) are as follows and are provided here as a general overview only:
- Gamilaraay: Walgett/Lightning Ridge area
- Yuwaalaraay: Walgett/Lightning Ridge area
- Ngiyambaa: Walgett/Lightning Ridge area
- Wiradjuri: South of Cobar on the Lachlan River
- Jitajita: Murray Darling Depression (NW of Cobar)
- Kureinui: Northern Murray and West to the Darling River
- Maraura. (AKA Wiimbaio): West of the lower reaches of the Darling
- Barkindji: Along the Darling - Wentworth to Walgett
- Parundji: Paroo River
- Naualko: West of the Darling (Bourke / Brewarrina)
- Ngemba : East bank of the Darling - (Wilcannia area)
- Baranbinja and Ualarai: Wanaaring - White Cliffs area
- Ualarai: Wanaaring - White Cliffs area
- Barindji: Lachlan to the east bank of the Darling River
- Karenggapa: Far Nth Wst corner of NSW (Channel Country)
- Maliangapa: Around the seasonal lakes south of Tibooburra
- Wiljakali: Broken Hill region
- Wongaibon: Lachlan to the east bank of the Darling River
Pre-European population levels have been estimated to have been as high as 750,000. With the arrival of Europeans (mainly English, Irish and Scottish) came not only dispossession, death and disease, but massive detrimental cultural impacts as well. Strong edifying beliefs and a determination have (all but slowly) made some progress in the last few decades (the right to vote, land rights, native title, identification of culturally significant lands and the recent 'Sorry' from the Federal Government have gone some way to reinvigorating cultural pride. These events have also helped many non-Indigenous Australians understand the importance and cultural contribution of the first inhabitants.
More and more places across Australia are integral in this process of acceptance and understanding and Outback NSW has some wonderful areas that provide an opportunity for people to experience Aboriginal culture and heritage and to learn about its significance.Please refer to our Parks Section for more information on these wonderful parks.