John Mumbler was born in Singleton, NSW in 1939. His father was Eric ‘Nugget’ Mumbler and his mother, Helen Maude (nee Donovan). Eric Mumbler’s father was Harry Mumbler, born in the Bega / Wallaga Lake area. One of Harry’s younger brothers was Percy Mumbler. Harry’s father, John Mumbler’s grandfather, was John ‘Biamanga’ Mumbler, born beside a creek (Bredbatoura) near Cobargo. Helen Donovan’s mother was Agnes Donovan and her father was, possibly, Christopher ‘Hackett’ Stewart. During their life Agnes and Christopher relocated from Kempsey to Wallaga Lake.
John Mumbler’s (Jnr) family call him Biamanga, in accordance with his genealogical link to Biamanga (Mumbulla) Mountain, situated between Quaama and Bega. It is John’s understanding that the term Biamanga means ‘unfinished canoe’. John’s personal totem, given to him by his elders during a traditional ceremony, is the ‘buddalema’ or yellow faced rock wallaby.
In the late 1940s and early 50s John visited the Gulaga / Mumbulla area with his elders who taught him about the spiritual significance of the mountains and his relationship to them. His father and three uncles handed down cultural information about the area to John, even though it was supposed to be passed onto the eldest son, John’s elder brother, who has since passed away. ‘The government did a good job breaking up our culture. We were the lucky ones; my father and his father could keep their stories going….the idea that the last ceremony around here was in the 1920s is bull….. ceremonies are still going on today……Jack Campbell, Ted Thomas, Jeff Tungai and my uncle Percy Mumbler helped us through ceremony, and now we are helping the next lot……’.
It was not until the 1970s that John finally came to reside in the Bodalla area, following both a career in the Aboriginal Legal Service, as a Liaison Officer and the call of his country. John currently resides in Bodalla and intends on staying for the remainder of his life.Excerpt from Stories About the Eurobodalla by Aboriginal People, 2006. Story contributed by Martin Ind from Moruya High School.