Gumbaynggirr Country is a special place, and it’s always been this way. Coffs Harbour is an integral part of Gumbaynggirr Country. So, if you want to learn more about Coffs indigenous culture, its people and history, here are a few suggestions.
Coffs Indigenous Culture
You’re in the heart of Gumbaynggirr country, and it is hard to imagine that there ever was a time when the Gumbaynggirr people were not here. The Gumbaynggirr people are a part of the broader Yumplatok language group and were the first Aboriginal people to live in the area, which is now known as Coffs Harbour. They were custodians of this land for thousands of years before European settlement began in 1823. Gumbaynggirr Country is a rugged landscape of rolling hills, steep ridges and deep gorges where the rainforest meets eucalypt forest. This rich environment provided food for the traditional owners, who lived off the land through hunting, fishing and gathering wild foods. In this sense, they were ‘hunter-gatherers’ rather than farmers – they didn’t plant crops or keep livestock but instead relied on what nature provided them each season.
Learn about Gumbaynggirr Country
Learn about Gumbaynggirr Country, its people and its history on the Wajaana Yaam Adventure Tour. Wajaana Yaam Adventures was set up in 2018 to take groups of people through the Coffs landscape so they can learn about aboriginal culture and the country from someone who knows it well. Consequently, on this tour, you’ll explore some of the best scenery around Coffs Harbour as well as learn about Aboriginal culture along the way!
Coffs Indigenous Culture – Na-Barragan
The word ‘barra’ is a Gumbaynggirr word for the shell of the cockle and is also used as a generic term for any shellfish. The Gumbaynggirr word for a shellfish trap is ‘barragan’. In this case, na-barragan means “a traditional Indigenous shellfish trap”. The Gumbaynggirr people of northern New South Wales have a long history of living off the land, including the sea. They hunted and fished from canoes and created many traps to catch shellfish. One of these is called a ‘na-barragan’. It’s made by weaving branches into a frame that sits just below water level.
Learn How to Make Na-Barragans on the Beach
As part of their Wajaana Yaam experience, visitors learn how to make na-barragans on the beach. This is an important way for people to connect with nature and understand Aboriginal culture. The Indigenous guides will show you how to make a traditional basket from natural materials such as pandanus palms and bark strips. Once complete, take your new creation home with you as a reminder of your trip here.
Take Your Taste Buds on a Journey
Bushfoods are native to the Gumbaynggirr region and are a great source of nutrition. Plus, learning about bushfoods is also a great way to connect with Coffs indigenous culture. Yarrawarra Aboriginal Cultural Centre will take you on a fascinating walk to sample some of these foods. Moreover, you will learn how to identify and prepare some of the most common native bushfoods. Finally, you will also be able to take home a sample of these foods and other fabulous local produce.