Aboriginal history in the Campaspe Moama Region
Two tribal clans, the Yorta Yorta and the Dja Dja Wurrung lived along the grassy waterways of this region to hunt, fish and gather food across territory defined by tribal language, and bounded by geographical features such as forests, rivers and creeks.
The Yorta Yorta people occupy a unique stretch of forest-wetlands that are located in what is now known as the central Murray – Goulburn region.
Traditional Yorta Yorta lands lie on both sides of the Murray River roughly from Cohuna to Albury / Wodonga. They include Echuca and Moama. Being river based people, most of their time was occupied by fishing, as the majority of food that was provided came from the rich network of rivers, lagoons, creeks, and wetlands which are still regarded as the life source and the spirit of the Yorta Yorta Nation.
The Yorta Yorta Nation is made up of clans and family groups including: Kaitheban Wollithiga Moira Ulupna Bangerang, Kwat Kwat, Yalaba Yalaba Ngurai-illiam-wurrung.
The arrival of Europeans, had a devastating impact on traditional groups such as the Yorta Yorta. Within the first generation of European settlement in the area, the Yorta Yorta population of some 5-6000 was reduced by 85 per cent.
Their ability to survive as a people is an amazing example of the strength and courage of past ancestors and a sad reflection on the mindset and brutality of the perpetrators of the scale of destruction that took place within such a short period of time.
The remaining Yorta Yorta population and other tribal groups from neighbouring areas were eventually relocated at Maloga Mission on the New South Wales side of the Murray River in 1874. Maloga was eventually closed and the residents were relocated at Cummeragunja Mission in 1888-9 which became the place where the Yorta Yorta was able to regroup after the destruction that took place.
Cummeragunja Mission provided a base for the development of what became the Aboriginal political movement in the 1930s led by some of Australia‘s outstanding Indigenous political leaders like Uncle William Cooper and many others.
For Aboriginal people, relationship with the land is at the centre of their lives. Our country is their mother; in a sense our country is them.
At St. Joseph’s College we acknowledge that this land is sacred, it is a gift, and that it is thousands of years old.