Moruya-Deua River and Ryans Creek

The Moruya – Deua River has a rich combination of value themes associated with the spiritual and economic importance the Aboriginal community places on the area. The Ryans Creek area is documented as being highly significant prior to contact, through to early contact to the present day. Pre-contact and early contact usage and associated values have been documented at Ryans Creek, but not further investigated during the course of this study. Cultural heritage themes relating to the early contact period involve burial sites, a ceremonial ground and a possible massacre site. Aboriginal families visiting Moruya to work in the seasonal farm industry throughout the mid 1900s would camp at Ryans Creek and collect an abundance of natural resources from the creek, river, riverbanks, and nearby bushland. The area continues to be valued today for its natural resources and as a place to camp and teach cultural practises.

The Moruya River becomes the Deua River on the western side of the Moruya River Bridge. At low tide one can cross the Moruya River. It is thought that Moruya is the name for this shallow crossing [Mary Duroux 6.2.2006].

The Black Swans [mythologically] meet at the Moruya River [Jennifer Stewart 09.11.2005].

Gulaga [Mt Dromedary], the mythological mother mountain had seven daughters. They left their mother to travel north and upon passing Bood-jarn [Hanging Mountain], they turned around to look for their mother, but could no longer see her. They cried as they continued walking north making seven rock pools along the Deua River. The seven rock pools along the Deua River hold fertility and medicinal powers [Dave Tout 25.1.2006].

Trisha Ellis was told that a number of Aboriginal camps existed in the Kiora area, along the Deua River. Trisha’s grandfather Pop Connell netted fish in the Kiora area, near where one can walk across at low tide. Trisha held one end of the net while her Pop walked the other end across [Trisha Ellis 4.2.2006].

There is an intertribal fighting ground [between Aboriginal tribes from Braidwood and Moruya] in the Kiora area, west of Moruya. The area accords with the Aboriginal inter tribal ‘Kiora Barnyard battle’ [Goulding 2003: 33].

During the 1960s Margaret, her siblings and the ‘Kelly kids’, would, after they had completed their cleaning jobs, spend the day at Kiora on the Deua River. They would take sausages, damper, collect various foods from the bush, swim and eat. The sausages would be buried in the sand until it was lunchtime, when they would light a fire, and stay out of the water for one hour after eating. The bridge that is there now was there then [Marg Harris 9.3.2006].

An old ‘’bugeendge’ lived in the Yarragee area. Trisha’s mother showed Trisha lots of Aboriginal sites at Yarragee, they are still there today [Trisha Ellis 4.2.2006].

Trisha Ellis and her family regularly camped at 8 Mile along the Deua River. 8 Mile had a good swimming hole. The family collected, and continue to collect bush medicines along the Deua River, including sarsaparilla and bloodwood. Trisha’s Nan showed her how to process the native tobacco (not the introduced plant). There are lemon trees and passionfruit vines all along the Deua River. The area is seen as a teaching ground [Trisha Ellis 4.2.2006].

Ursula Connell, Trish Ellis’s maternal grandmother, told her that ‘birthing pools’ existed along Donald’s Creek. Trisha and her mother visited the birthing pools. There are also important caves in the area, but they are too difficult to get to [Trisha Ellis 4.2.2006].

There are Bora Grounds and spiritually imbued Stone formations in the McGregors Creek area. The dulagarl walks around here at night. The Connell family camped here, just up from Burrumbella, on an annual basis. Sometimes there was up to 60 people. Trisha was told that this area is part of the Brinja tribal area and also a part of the dreaming track connected to Buckenbowra [Trisha Ellis 4.2.2006].

During the 1950s Georgina Parsons camped at Ryans Creek with her parents when they were doing seasonal work at the nearby Macintosh farm. They would swim across Ryans Creek from the farm. Pickers working at the Macintoshs would regularly visit Ryans Creek to collect mussels and go for a swim. .…old ghosts, the ancestors walk around this area through to Ryans Creek’. Georgina was told that her ancestors walked across the Moruya River in the vicinity of Ryans Creek, before the River was dredged.

There are naturally occurring and man made fish traps located in an inlet draining into the Moruya River in the Ryans Creek vicinity. Mullet would get trapped when the tide goes out. The fish were very easy to catch here. Foods found in the Ryans Creek area includes: flat head, bream, black fish, sting rays, eels, sharks, oysters, bimbullas, leather jackets, mud and mangrove crabs, gum from the wattle, rabbits, parrots, black swans, jerry wonga. Oysters were gathered on the large round boulders protruding from within Ryans Creek. The mud crabs would hide within the mangroves. The area is still used today as a place to collect bush foods, fishing and collecting shellfish, camping and meet family [Georgina Parsons 14.12.2005].

During school holidays and on weekends, William remembers having family drop in and, if there were too many people, large gatherings would take place at Ryans Creek, North Head, Moruya, Congo, and Bingi [William Davis Jnr 22.5.2006].

There was always people camping at Ryans Creek, in Moruya, Jim [James] Larritt, Carol’s son lived there in a humpy for a long time. He will be 44 this year [Carol Larritt 23.1.2006].

Doris’ youngest sister Paulette and her husband Pat, come here to collect oysters when visiting family in Moruya [Doris Moore 14.12.2005].

During the 1960s, Margaret and her brothers and sisters would collect shellfish from Ryans Creek. Margaret almost drowned in the tidal rock pool; she sank in quick sand as the tide was rising. Even today, when Margaret’s sister visits, they take some bread and vinegar to Ryans Creek and collect oysters to make an oyster sandwich. They collected ‘gum’ from the ‘gum tree’, or wattle tree, ‘there is nothing like the taste of gum..’ [Margaret Harris 9.3.2006].

Trisha’s grandmother was told of ceremonial sites in the Ryan’s Creek area. Pop Connell, Ernest John Richard Connell would net the creek at low tide and be able to feed his family for a week. Trisha recalls camping in the Ryan’s Creek area. Her mother’s sister, Margaret, lived in a house on the hill. The kids would run up the hill to visit her. Trisha recalls trapping rabbits between Ryans Creek and Spinnaker Place. Trisha recalls collecting bush medicines throughout this area for her grandmother [Trisha Ellis 4.2.2006 /14.06.2006].

In 1925 when Nell first arrived to Australia, aged 11, her and her sister went looking for the burial ground of two Aboriginal people said to located on ‘Nelly Mylott’s Flat’, Mynora, along Moruya South Head Road. Tea tree once grew all through the area. The sisters did not find the burial site nor any skeletal remains [Nell Greig 19.12.2006]11.

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