Indigenous Culture

There are at least 5 indigenous clans residing in the Robinvale Euston region:

  • Tati Tati
  • Wiradjuri
  • Muti Muti
  • Wamba Wamba
  • Latje Latje

In the time before white settlement, these tribes would travel far afield, following the seasonal food sources, moving onto different areas and trading with other clans as they went. Mixing bowls and grinding stones would sometimes be left behind, where a clan knew that this was an area that they would return to.

The area surrounding the Murray River at Robinvale-Euston was an important settlement for some of these clans: The area of the current weir was a main eating place; Knights Bend and Lake Benanee were sites for burial.

Bumbang Island as it is now known was originally part of the mainland of Robinvale, except for a few short weeks when the Murray was in flood.

With the creation of the lock and weir downstream in the 1920’s this stretch of river is now permanently ‘in flood’ and has become the Island as it now stands. As a result, Bumbang Island is like a time capsule of history of the Indigenous life before white settlement. It is estimated that there are over 800 scar trees on the Island, where bark has been cut out of certain types of trees for the making of shields and canoes. Permission should be sought to access the Island.

If you look closely at the trees along the river’s edge around Robinvale you may notice this distinctive oval scar left behind in the bark. One such scar tree is marked with a plaque under the bridge on the Robinvale side of the Murray. You may also notice
clusters of shells along the river bank which indicates the site of a midden. These are the shells of the river mussels that were dug up out of the mud and eaten at that site.

Traditional medicine is still used by some descendants of the original clans. The bark of a certain tree is boiled into a tea to ease headaches, coughs, colds, and for ‘women’s business’. Bark from the same tree is burned and the ash used externally as a poultice for wounds.

Wild pigface (a fleshy plant, with properties somewhat similar to the aloe vera plant) is used for treatment of skin infections and sores. ‘Old man weed’ is a river plant usually found along the banks of the Murray which can be boiled into a tea, or made into an ointment. Unfortunately, with the Murray flooding less and less and soil erosion taking place, some of these plants are not as plentiful as they once were.

Manatunga Community Garden

An Indigenous Garden is currently underway on River Road, opposite Bumbang Island and Indigenous community members are growing fruit and vegetables in Robinvale.

This Indigenous managed Community Garden located in Moore Street, Robinvale has been operating for over a decade to provide fresh, seasonal produce to community members and for occasional sale at the Robinvale Community Growers Market.

Interested individuals plant, water and harvest the produce as it comes into season.

The Community Garden provides an opportunity for interested participants to help develop the land for continued production and supply of nutritious ‘home grown’ fruit and vegetables.

Cultural awareness of our Indigenous past is on the increase.

The local Aboriginal community invite you to contact them while you are in our region.
Murray Valley Aboriginal Co-op, Latje Road, Robinvale • Phone (03) 5026 1229

More of our interesting local history