The above are but a few rediscovered place names ( full list of names collected can be found below) pertaining to North East Victoria collected from Aboriginal people at Broken River (Benalla), Bontharambo (near Wangaratta) and The Crossing Place on the Hume River (Albury) by George Augustus Robinson (hereafter GAR), the Chief Protector of Aboriginals in Port Phillip between the period of 1840-1844. He documented them in his journal.
GAR was assigned the role of Chief Protector in Port Phillip after 10 years’ experience in Van Diemen’s Land; where he directly contributed to the forced removal of the remainder of Tasmanian’s Aboriginal people off their traditional lands and onto a ‘settlement’ on Flinders Island. In truth, Flinders Island was a prison, plagued with despair, disease and death for those who had been forcibly removed. Despite this failure, Robinson was offered a post in the Port Phillip district (ie: Victoria) after denying an offer in South Australia.
GAR held this post with the assistance for four ‘Assistant Protectors’: William Thomas, James Dredge, Edward Stone Parker and Charles Sievwright. During this time, Robinson travelled more than 10,000 miles in South Eastern Australia until his position was abolished in 1849. He visited the North East of Victoria four times; in April 1840, February 1841, November 1842, and September 1844. He documented the details of these visits extensively in his daily journal.
GAR’s output of letter writing and journal keeping was voracious and exhaustive; his journals amounted to 72 volumes now housed in the Mitchell Library, Sydney. They incapsulate Aboriginal language , genealogy, tribal boundaries, tribal and ‘section’ (clan)names, place names and observations of people and landscape.
Though we are fortunate to have access to this primary evidence,this wasn’t always the case: GAR’s journals travelled back with GAR to Bath, England after his retirement and were largely forgotten until in 1938 when, in possession of GAR’s son Arthur, they were almost destroyed by his housekeeper upon his death. They were eventually purchased by the Mitchell Library in 1948, however, scholars rarely made use of their detailed wealth until the 1990’s. In 1996, Dr Ian Clark undertook the incredible feat of transcribing the journals and by 1998 the first edition was available for purchase.
The most significant informant who provided the majority of the words collected and listed below was Mole.min.ner or ‘Joe’. Mole.min.ner was Rev Joseph Docker’s head shepherd at Bontharambo run, until he was falsely arrested by pastoralist Dr George Mackay and his stockmen for supposedly participating in a raid that lasted for two days in May of 1840 on Mackay’s run ‘Warouly’ (ie: Whorouly); in which a hut keeper was murdered,and the homestead ransacked and torched. Mole.min.ner was eventually released from incarceration mainly due to the relentless petitioning of Governor George Gipps and GAR for his release undertaken by the Rev Joseph Docker.
Mole.min.ner was a young man who was well-regarded. He was about 18 years of age (in 1840), married, and identified himself as Waveroo of the Pallengomitty section, location ‘Ponderambo’ We understand this to mean that he belonged to the Pallanganmiddang clan of the Waveroo/Waywurru Nation; and that his Country included Bontharambo plains located just out of modern day Wangaratta.
Below is a list of original toponyms (place names) supplied to GAR by Mole.min.ner and a number of other Aboriginal informants during his visits to North East Victoria. Astrix entries are current place names still in use in North East Victoria, although the location may now vary from the original indigenous usage. It appears that these names where also used elsewhere in the Wangaratta community; Wangaratta High School’s magazine was renamed Korrumbeia in 1952. This is undoubtedly connected to the name listed below for the Ovens and King River Junction, with ‘diddah’ taken off the end.
Please note that Aboriginal people often had different names for the one river, depending on the section.
*Wor.dong.her – Wodonga
Cor.ram.be.yan.did.der – Junction of the Ovens and King Rivers, near Faithfull Street, Wangaratta
Tim.byen.er – Mt Glenrowan
Yoo.owl.ler – Warby Ranges
Tub.ber.lung.en.er – Mount Buffalo (Collected at Benalla)
Bogamble – Mount Buffalo
My.wong.gid.der – Buffalo River
Gor.ong wor.ring – The Ovens River (Collected in Wangaratta)
Tare.rang – Ovens River
Tare.ren.gome.men.her – 15 Mile Creek, Greta
Kubber.ba.mungee – a Hill NE of Joseph Dockers place,unknown?
*Parn.der.rambo – Bontharambo Plains
Deer.re.mer – Monument Hill at Albury
Bung.gain.re.art.ter – (Bungambrewatha) Albury
Dare.ter.kor.nong – Broken River (Collected at Benalla)
By.en.good.der.re – Broken River
Ber.re.pit – Broken River at Barjag
Pen.der.re – Benalla
*War.roul.le – Whorouly
Par.node – Barnawatha area
Warrin – Goulburn River
*Bayo.lite – Mt Battery (Mansfield Shire Council now recognises Bayolite as a duel name for Mt Battery, as of last week.)
*Tal-la-tite – Delatite River
Men.dum.bul — The Paps
Mar.rine – (also spelled Maaraain) Mt Buller
Waring.but – (also spelled Warambait) Mt Timbertop
Nar.rar – Kiewa River
*Wongerarter (ie: Wangaratta) – original name for the Oxley Plains-on Oxley Plains Road
*Nackadanda – Yackandandah
*Mur.er.ber.rung.bun – Mt Murramurangbong
Poo.dum.be.yer – King River
*Bur.we.je – Barwidgee . Robinson listed Whorouly, Barwidgee and Yackandandah concurrently in his journal entry.