It’s all in a name: a resurfaced collection Aboriginal place names in North East Victoria 


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 – Junction of the Ovens and King Rivers, near Faithfull Street, Wangaratta – Mt Glenrowan

Yoo.owl.ler – Warby Ranges – Mount  Buffalo  (Collected at Benalla)

Bogamble – Mount Buffalo  

My.wong.gid.der – Buffalo River wor.ring – The Ovens River (Collected in Wangaratta)

Tare.rang – Ovens River – 15 Mile Creek, Greta – a Hill NE of Joseph Dockers place,unknown?

*Parn.der.rambo – Bontharambo Plains – Monument Hill at Albury – (Bungambrewatha) Albury

Dare.ter.kor.nong – Broken River (Collected at Benalla) – Broken River – Broken River at Barjag – Benalla

*War.roul.le – Whorouly

Par.node – Barnawatha area

Warrin – Goulburn River

*E.dy- Edi

*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

* – Mt Murramurangbong – King River 

* – Barwidgee . Robinson listed Whorouly, Barwidgee and Yackandandah concurrently in his journal entry.


Wangaratta High School Magazine 1952
Korrumbeia is Victorian aboriginal term meaning restful river/creek (Kurrabi; creek, Umina; rest, Beeia; river)
This is a reference to the Ovens and King rivers merging in Wangaratta, and the fact that WHS houses are named after local waterways.


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24 thoughts on “It’s all in a name: a resurfaced collection Aboriginal place names in North East Victoria

  1. Hi Megan, which volume of the Clark GAR Journals is this from? I have vol 1 and 4. Couldn’t see these there, so assume it is in one of the others, although I can see that it is his style. There is an interesting section on your relative ‘Harlequin’ on p 211 of vol 1 though, which I assume you have read. The story of Harlequin and Merriman would make for a great novel.


    1. Hi Simon, I believe that some might be in Volume two. This has the most Pallanganmiddang entries in it. I have have the combined edition so I’m not sure. I’ve been tracking Merriman closely for six years but he disappears for me after 1859. There has been historical confusion as to who died out the front of The Lagoon Inn at Kiewa- whether it was Merriman or his father King Billy. I’ve been collecting info on Harlequin too for a long time, including the trial records of those troopers that essentially killed him. I surmise that he was buried near what is Spencer St Station, with Winberri- the man who was killed during the Lettsom raid in Melbourne. That a blog post in the works. My friend Felicity who is an author and painter from Mitta Mitta is using their story as a basis of a novel.
      Those two men are a motivating force for me to keep digging and posting, in spite of angry protests Wangaratta way.


  2. I saw that there is a combined abridged version available – I have it on order. There is also some stuff around p 186 of Volume 1 – he spent Fri 4th Oct 1844 – Mon 7th around Wodonga and Wangaratta. I really look forward to seeing a novel from Felicity.

    Yes, there is a degree of cognitive dissonance in certain quarters. It is unfortunate. But in the end, I think people will have to accept validated evidence supported by multiple sources, over inconsistent accounts. Keep digging.


    1. That’s right- Moleniner recognises him again on this trip- I think he is coming back from his trip that took him thru Omeo and The Monaro .
      Good language collected then too.the first edition has all his sketches included. Shame the others don’t have them.
      Some discount Robinson heavily but they – the diaries- are really interesting reading especially if you read his assistant’s diary simultaneously.
      Thanks for the encouragement – it means a lot.


  3. I just sent you a private message via your Facebook page – not 100% sure if you would automatically see it, so noting it here.


  4. Hi Megan,
    Thanks for your wonderful blog. I enjoy following your meticulous research and how you are connecting us to important NE Victorian history.
    Have you considered a bibliography of recommended sources?
    I could trawl through your footnotes but I like the idea of a ‘recommended reading’ page if you like.
    Kind regards,


    1. Hi Jenny- thank you for being so supportive. I think that’s a really great idea. I’ll work on getting something together! It would be handy for me too.


  5. Is the best place to read the diaries at the Vic Library? I’m up in Queensland. My interest stems from Dominick Farrell – Edi Station.


    1. If you do a search on trove you should be able to locate a library close you you that has them. There are a few editions- initially Ian Clark published them as 6 books ( the first edition includes Robinson’s sketches) the 2014 edition is a complete book however there is supplemental book that houses language and genealogy.


      1. I managed to buy on Amazon (from the UK, so should be easier in Australia) the 2015 abridged edition: “1839-50: abridged – observations of Aboriginal societies”. I also have a couple of the individual volumes, but this one is much more useful. Warning – it makes for somewhat harrowing reading, in some parts.


      2. The observations on the effects of general disease, reflections of the names given to Aboriginal women by indentured servants and treatment of tribal boys are indeed harrowing. I had a three month break from research after stumbling across those entries.
        I was impacted greatly.


      3. Yes, exactly the entries I was thinking of.


    2. Michael- do you know anything about a half caste employee under the name of John Pierce Jnr? Worked for Dominik Farrell at Edi.


      1. No. But I shall look into into it.


      2. Hi, i have just stumbled across this doing more research as i belive John Pierce Jnr is my 5th great grandfather. i have a little information if it helps but im sure you have more than me.


  6. Philippa Walpole May 17, 2021 — 1:32 am

    Hi Megan! Thank you so much for this blog! its so interesting. I am currently studying Indigenous studies at the University of Melbourne but am originally from Whorouly! We are currently studying the notion of acknowledging our past and the process of asking questions about our ansectry. Im just wondering if you know any more information about Whorouly and the native communities that may have owned the lands before we did!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Phillipa, thanks for reading and your kind comments. Whorouly is in Waywurru Country. The people that were here were the same people at Wangaratta and Wodonga. My understanding is that there is archeological evidence of clay ovens at Whorouly. Obviously it was the location of the 3 day outrage at McKays station which is heavily documented and impacted the Aboriginal
    people in Melbourne with the Lettsom Raid Reprisal. It was wholesale murder in the Ovens Valley . Those who remained there in the aftermath did so In total defiance.


    1. I’m looking for the actual meaning of Whorouly, any ideas
      Thank you


  8. I’m interested if there is any information on the meaning of “Burgoigee” and/or “Murmungee”


    1. Hi Royce,
      Im not a linguist, but the suffix mungee/gee/jee/jie is connected to a place of water that is important..
      for instance, Tarre/ Tare means river in Waywurru language thus Tarrawingee
      Carraragarmungee is supposed to mean place of many fish ( in the water ).
      Barwidgee is supposed to mean white drinking water
      Murmungee – we need to know what the prefix ‘murmun’ means.
      I’ll take a look at the Waywurru language lexicon to see if I can find any hints.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you, There is “local” belief from one of the early attempts at Murmungee’s history that the name “Murmungee” means the following;

        “Once again there is some confusion over a name. One version says it is derived from an aboriginal word mirimunja meaning codfish. Another version is that it is a combination of 2 aboriginal words,murra- a hand, also: “full and plenty” or “Resting place” and mongie: a mosquito. These 2 together made up the original name for the adjoining squatter’s run to Bowmans Forest – Murmongie or Murramungee (depending on which source’s spelling is chosen).”

        For the want of anything better I used the above quote in the 2019 local history book. I’m doing corrections now & would like to be more accurate if possible. My speculation is that the original 1857 survey used the names “Burgoigee” and “Murmungee” because MacKay’s overseer told the surveyor that was common usage. Perhaps they knew what the names meant then but had no interest in recording it. If we could only talk to Merriman.


  9. Very interested in actual meaning of the word Whorouly, thank you


    1. Me too. Robinson mentions it in his journals but there is no explanation except to add that Waywurru is spoken there. Perhaps with time ( or a linguist or two) we might come to learn.


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