Gulaga (Mount Dromedary)

Gulaga [Mount Dromedary], Najanuka [Little Dromedary Mountain], in the Tilba area and Baranguba [Montague Island] to the north off the coast at Narooma, remain deeply precious to the Aboriginal community across the south –east coast. These places are interlinked and together hold a great deal of cultural history, they offer a link between the Dreamtime past and the spirituality of the land in the present; they are places on which personal and group identities are based; and they provide a place to take refuge, rest and reflect.

Violet Parsons’ elders told her the mythical Dreamtime story relating to Gulaga, Najanuka and Baranguba. Gulaga is the mother mountain. She has two sons, Najanuka and Baranguba. Baranguba did not listen to his mother when he should have and has forevermore water blocking him from getting back to his mother. Baranguba is Montague Island. Najanuka was made to stay close by his mother and is now represented by Little Dromedary Mountain, not far from Gulaga. The moral to the story, they said is ‘always do what you are told’ [Violet Parsons 6.4.2006].

Elders took Mervyn Penrith up Mount Gulaga; they told him about the cultural significance of the mountain; that there are women and men’s places on Gulaga. In accordance with Aboriginal Lore, men are not permitted to go into the women’s places, and women not permitted to go into the men’s places. A man and a woman can be seen in the topographical form of the mountain. The woman is lying in a north to south direction on the south side of the mountain, whilst the man is lying in a south to northeasterly position towards the northern side of the mountain. Their two heads meet at the top of the mountain.

In 1979 Mervyn helped Ted Thomas and Percy Davis to protest against a Japanese company logging on Gulaga [and Biamanga] Mountain. The company was blowing up sacred rocks and knocking down sacred trees. Mervyn Penrith, his partner Shirley Foster, Kevin Gilbert and Ronald Mc Leod took a signed petition to the Japanese Embassy in Canberra. The logging was stopped and the process to return the ownership of the two mountains back to Aboriginal people began. Merv was an official guest at the May 2006 ceremony, when the land title to Gulaga was handed back to it’s original owners; the Aboriginal custodians [Mervyn Penrith 11.4.2006].

Valerie Andy has seen Wallaga Lake from Gulaga Mountain, where she ventured with her husband. Over the years however, she has ‘stayed away from that place’ [Valerie Andy 20.12.2005].

Eddie Foster recalls walking up Gulaga Mountain; ‘….it took a long time to get back down….’. [Eddie Foster 11.4.2006].

‘……From Wallaga Lake, in the early hours of the morning, before the sun has risen, you can see the lights of the spiritual ancestors walking up the side of Gulaga mountain. These are the spirits of the men who were walking up Gulaga to get ready for a ceremony; they had lights, firelights to show them the way..…it is like a ceremonial walking track…….‘ [John Mumbler 24.5.2006].

When Beryl Brierley was a young child, elder Uncle Gundy took her sisters, brothers and cousins onto Gulaga Mountain. Beryl was too young to participate but heard they hid in the bush and waited until the Lyre birds did their mating dances. They were taught about the plants on the mountain. Gulaga is like a weather clock, you can read what the weather is doing or about to do by looking at the mountain. The mountain behaves differently at different times of the day and year.

The Police use to chase Aboriginal people with guns, as a sport; the Aboriginal people being chased knew where the old walking tracks were over Gulaga and took refuge there. In wintertime, Aboriginal people from Cooma would avoid the snow by travelling over Gulaga to the coast, and return in springtime when it warmed up [Beryl Brierley 19.12.2005].

Pam Flanders remembers day trips, up one side of the mountain, and having a look out over Wallaga Lake and Merrimans Island [Pam Flanders 11.4.2006].

Harriett Walker believes that, in accordance with traditional Aboriginal lore, camping is not permitted on Gulaga. Harriett knows that Gulaga has a men’s ridge and a women’s ridge [Harriett Walker 11.4.2006].

Mt Dromedary was traditionally known as Duligal, people then started to call it Gulaga. In the early 1900s when the police came to Wallaga Lake to take the children away to institutions, families ran away, and hid on Gulaga Mountain [Georgina Parsons 31.5.2006].

‘….old people like ‘Bim’ Percy Mumbler, Ernie Silver, Chock Noble, Munns Hammond told us not to go up Gulaga. These men would know about Gulaga. They told us blokes stories for the place when we all lived at Lavis’s farm……’ [Ronnie Mason 5.1.2006].

The stem from the ‘Garrara’ tree can be collected from around Gulaga and used for making spears. The ‘Mingo’ grass tree was also used to make spears. The resin and stem was used by Ted Thomas who sold them by the bag to people making shellac. Percy Mumbler and Jeff Tungai collected eels from the fresh water creeks running off Gulaga. Jeff Tungai’s wife Martha [nee Andy] was born on Gulaga [Chris Griffiths’ consultation 16.3.2006].

A walking track links Gulaga to the Shoalhaven, via Nerrigundah and Wandella. This route also has links to Bodalla [Tuross River] and Mt Kosciuszko via Cooma [John Mumbler 25.11.2005].

Taken from “Stories About the Eurobodalla by Aboriginal People”. View the full study

Excerpt from "Stories About the Eurobodalla by Aboriginal People", 2006. Story Contributed by Martin Ind from Moruya High School.