Gunnedah Shire is the traditional land of the Gunn-e-darr people of the Kamilaroi tribe. The traditional language is known as Gomeroi (or commonly Gamilaraay). The name Gunnedah originates from the Gunn-e-darr people and is thought to mean the “Place of White Stones”.
Cumbo Gunnerah (also known as the Red Kangaroo or Red Chief) was a clever chief and might warrior. Legend has it that Cumbo Gunnerah defeated a large opposing Aboriginal tribe with only a handful of warriors by leading them into the Wallaby Trap, a natural trap created by the land form and vegetation, and used by the Kamilaroi tribe to hunt wallabies. The Wallaby Trap is at the base of Porcupine Lookout.
Some of the culturally significant sites within Gunnedah Shire are:
The Red Chief Memorial
The Red Chief Memorial (Kambu Gunirah) is located close to the CBD in Abbott Street in front of the NSW Government offices. It commemorates the burial place of Kamilaroi warrior Cumbo Gunnerah – the Red Chief. In 1984, a memorial sculpture designed by Dennis Adams in consultation with local First Nations peoples and the NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service, was erected to mark the burial site. It is believed to be the first memorial established in honour of an Aboriginal historical identity.
Boonalla Aboriginal Area
The Boonalla Aboriginal Area is situated on the traditional lands of the Gomeroi (Kamilaroi). It is culturally significant to the local Aboriginal community, who have maintained a strong connection to the area since the Dreamtime, and have carried the responsibility to protect and preserve the spirit of the land.
Scarred trees, axe heads, ancient tools, art and engravings have been found in the region. Artefacts recovered from excavations date back 4000 years. Boonalla Aboriginal Area has made a significant contribution to the cultural and spiritual well-being of the local Aboriginal people.
The reserve is open to the public for light recreational purposes, such as bushwalking, bird watching, bicycle riding, and having a family picnic with barbecue areas available for public use.
Check out the Boonalla Brochure and Map here.
Mullibah Lagoon was said to be the main campsite of Cumbo Gunnerah and the Gunn-e-darr tribe. It is a picturesque lagoon area close to the town centre with abundant birdlife, and is a peaceful place for a picnic.
Cumbo Gunnerah Keeping Place
Cumbo Gunnerah Keeping Place: this gallery houses a significant collection of stone artefacts, carved trees, weapons and utensils. We are very excited about the Keeping Place to open soon to the public in the second half of 2022. Watch this space!
Wallaby Trap: a traditional hunting ground popular due to the landscape creating a naturally net. The Wallaby Trap is at the base of Porcupine Lookout.
Porcupine Lookout: This lookout is known to the local Aboriginal people of the Kamilaroi Tribe as 'Bindea' (pronounced Bindee), which translates to “The place where the shrubs with leaves like a porcupine quill grow”. Find out more about Porcupine Lookout here.
Pensioners Hill: 10 Aboriginal totem poles stand tall on Pensioners Hill. The totem poles were handcrafted by local artists in 2012. They represent significant people, dreamtime legend and customs of the Kamilaroi Tribe including the Biamee Spirit, the Red Chief Shield and the Rainbow Serpent. Large heritage sandstone sculptures also depict the cultural heritage of the area. Find out more about Pensioners Hill Lookout here.
The Rainbow Serpent
The Rainbow Serpent: Aboriginal artists designed the magnificent Rainbow Serpent Water Feature outside Gunnedah’s Civic Centre in Chandos Street. The work of many local artists feature in the colourful tiles along the length of the serpent’s body. Its creation has drawn on the culture, traditions, families, history and experiences of the artists.