April 4, 2018

Traditional Taungurung

This drawing by J. H. Wedge (1835) shows women digging roots of the Yam Daisy.

The Taungurung people shared a common bond in moiety affiliation with the other tribes. Their world was divided into two moieties: Bundjil (Wedge Tail Eagle) and Waang (Crow). Members of the tribe identified with one or the other of these moieties and it was their moiety which determined the pattern for marriage between individuals, clans and tribes and transcended local allegiances by obliging clan members to find spouses from some distant clan of the opposite moiety either within or outside their Wurrung (language group).
The nature of the Taungurung people enabled us to utilise the resources available in our vast country. Our ancestors had an intimate knowledge of their environment and were able to sustain the ecology of each region and exploit the food available.
A staple plant food was the Mirnong (Yam Daisy) which provided a reliable source of carbohydrate. Other plants such as the Bracken Fern (food and medicine), the Tree Fern, Kangaroo Apple and Cherry Balert were a valuable food source and can still be seen growing on Taungurung country today.
Dhulangi (Stringy Bark) was used to construct Yilam (Shelters) or to weave binak (Baskets). Fibrous plants, such as Dulim (Tussock Grass) produced Burrdi-am (Twine) for Garrtgirrk (Nets) while other tree species were utilised for their timber to fashion Malga (Shield), Gudjerron (Clubs), Wanggim (Boomerangs). Daanak (Water Carriers) and Gorong (Canoes). The rich resources of the permanent rivers, creeks, tributaries and associated floodplains enabled Taungurung to people to access an abundance of fish and other wildlife. Fish were speared and trapped while water birds were netted and Marram (Kangaroo), Goorbil (Koala), and Barramul (Emu) provided nourishing food.
The pelts from the Walert (Native Possum) were sewn together to form Gugra (Cloak ideal for the cold and wet conditions. Plants such as Karradjong provided fibres to weave Garrtgirrk (Nets) for harvesting the nutritious Debera (Bogong Moth). In the summer the Taungurung people would travel south for the Debera season and then head back northwards when the weather cooled.