Wiradjuri People

The following points on Wiradjuri Heritage have been extracted from “The new country: A Thematic history of The Bathurst Regional Council Local Government Area”, 2006 and “The Wiradjuri in and around Bathurst”, at www.peterandren.com, 2007.

Wiradjuri Country

The Wiradjuri people were known as the people of the three rivers: the Wambool (now known as the Macquarie River), the Kalari (the Lachlan River, from which the electorate takes its name) and the Murrumbidjeri (the Murrumbidgee River).

Wiradjuri country is the largest in NSW, stretching from the eastern boundary of the Great Dividing Range. Drawing a line from the present towns of Hay and Nyngan approximates the western boundary. While Gunnedah and Albury mark the northern and southern boundaries of Wiradjuri country.

Initially, European intrusion into Wiradjuri country was restricted on the orders of Governor Macquarie.  From the early 1820s with the removal of these restrictions, the Wiradjuri in the BRC area began to suffer major dislocation with the arrival of pastoral settlers and their herds in greater numbers, culminating in open conflict in 1823 and 1824.  Windradyne, a Wiradjuri leader in this resistance, is one of the few Aborigines of the settlement period of whom we have any certain knowledge as an individual.  His grave is located on 'Brucedale' property.

Wiradjuri population numbers declined in the 19th century, mainly because of European diseases and disruption to hunting and food gathering generally.  This effect spread westward and southward as more land was taken by pastoralists as they moved beyond the original limits established by Governor Macquarie. 

From the 1890s, many surviving Wiradjuri were placed on reserves and missions outside the Bathurst area, particularly those located at Wellington and Cowra.  No reserves or missions were identified within the BRC area in the research for this study.  However, no matter where they might live, nearly all local Aborigines in time came under the increasing control of government regulations and bureaucracy. 

The interaction of the area's Aboriginal inhabitants with European civilisation was in most ways typical of such interaction in south eastern Australia.  Consequently, the BRC area's history of this theme needs to be seen as part of the wider history of Aboriginal interaction in the Central West.  In that wider context it is equally a story of Wiradjuri survival and regeneration.  (See Read and Kabaila.)

Aboriginal and European interaction is also a remarkable story of the Wiradjuri willingly sharing with the newcomers their ancient knowledge of the region, knowledge about the land, the plants and even the gold bearing rocks.  This knowledge contributed directly to the successful settlement of the district.

For more detailed information visit Wiradjuri Country, Culture and Heritage