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Article 1: Bussamarai was also known as Possum Murray, Eaglehawk, Combo, Old Billy, and perhaps other names.

Article 3: Errors and Corrections

Article 4: Myall Creek & Len Payne

Article 2: Homelands of Some Aboriginal Clans in the Maranoa and Nearby: Norman Tindale and AIATSIS could be partly wrong.

By Patrick J Collins. (Author of Goodbye Bussamarai: the Mandandanji Land War, Southern Queensland 1842-1852.). A talk delivered to interested Indigenous Australians at the Roma ATSIC Office, upon the invitation of Russell Kelly and friends.


Aboriginal Clans in the Maranoa and Nearby.

By Patrick J Collins.
Note: The text below was slightly modified by Patrick Collins on 6.12.2002 for inclusion on the Web [www].


The following notes were prepared to assist Indigenous Australians who believe they could have descended from Clans in parts of the Maranoa Pastoral District, when the first stations were established at St George and further north, on the Muckadilla and the Balonne, in 1848 and soon after. My interest is in identity issues. I have no involvement with Native title claims and do not seek to become involved with these.

As these notes are basic to an article that I am preparing for publication, I ask that they be used for personal reasons only. Having said this, and having searched with limited success for my Irish family’s origins, I do understand how powerful the want or need to discover our origins can be. For instance, every Irish Catholic, barring those who conformed to British demands, was once relocated to infertile lands. For instance, the Collins Clan had its origins in County Cork, but my earliest known Collins relations lived in County Armagh, diagonally opposite in Ireland. I still do not know for sure, where my family really came from in Ireland.

Something very similar happened to your people in Australia. You simply cannot therefore accept that your ancestors originated in the district in which they lived after about 1852. Some of your ancestors were possibly refugees who could have relocated several times. Others were perhaps taken far from their homelands to work on stations, or the Native Police, in other districts. It follows that Norman Tindale and AIATIS could be partly wrong: their tribal maps and the Encyclopaedia of Aboriginal Australia are limited by the documents upon which they drew.

Tindale (1974, p.181), who mapped the approximate boundaries of Mandandanji territory cited: W’m Ridley (1861, 1873, 1875), Archibald Meston (1892), Mathews (1897, 1898, 1904), Bucknell (1912), Tindale (1940) and Emmerson (1962). However, there were highly relevant documents from before the oldest of Tindale’s references.

For instance: Tindale gave as alternative names for the Mandandandanji: Mundaeinbura, Mundainbara, Kogai, Cogai, Fishing-net people. However, I did not discover where Tindale learned of the name Mandandanji.

In addition to boundary limits, Tindale stated: - The northern hordes of this tribe who lived on the headwaters of Coogoon Creek [Muckadilla] were known as the Kogai a name also used as a term for the language of the Kunggari -.

Earlier evidence from Hovenden Hely, cited below, suggests that the people who lived on the Muckadilla near Mt Abundance were the Hippi: but the Coogi/Culba possibly did live on the Muckadilla headwaters near Mt Bindango. Hely perhaps used the term clan rather loosely but I have maintained his language to ensure authenticity. Anthropologists and others will possibly express Hely’s messages in the light of current knowledge of how Aboriginal societies were/are structured.

Other Sources:
1. 1846: Sir Thomas Mitchell: in Tropical Australia:

p.106. 28.03.1846: While on the Narran and moving towards the Maranoa, he met a small number of people who spoke Jerwooleroy [Ualarai, a dialect related to Kamilaroi].

p.110. 30.03.1846. Mitchell met a large number of people very close to the Junction of the Narran and the Balonne. Yuranigh could understand one of these, who had been on stations, but none of the others [perhaps they spoke Coogi?]. [Yuranigh was a Wiradhuri from Molong, well south of Kamilaroi land but he could apparently speak Kamilaroi].


p.113. 1.04.1846. A local man guided Mitchell from the Balonne to the Culgoa, but his language could not be understood by anyone in Mitchell’s party.

p.119. 7.04.1846. Below the junction of the Culgoa and the Balonne, Mitchell’s men could not understand the language on the Culgoa [perhaps this was Coogi, which was possibly spoken by the Cubbi/Culba].

p.144. On 3.05.1846, Mitchell met people on Lower Muckadilla Creek who apparently understood Yuranigh but did not answer him except by copying him, - like parrots -. [This suggests these people were familiar with Kamilaroi and, or, Ualarai].

p.160. On 11.05.1846, when at the headwaters of the Muckadilla near Mt Bingango, Mitchell met eight local men but they could not understand Mitchell’s southern guides, or vice versa. Mitchell’s 2IC, Edmund Kennedy (p.186), had a similar experience several days later. [Coogi was possibly the language. Perhaps Oorumunde [see Goodbye Bussamarai, pp.193-196], rather than Bussamarai, was amongst them].

p.162. on 14.05.1846, Mitchell had moved on 25 miles to around the headwaters of the Amby, where he again met the above men plus others. No communication was possible as the language barrier was too great.

p.193. When north of his Maranoa River Depot above Mitchell town, he met with a number of Aborigines. His guide Yuranigh could not understand their language.

Note: From Hely below, these were probably Cubbi people who spoke Coogi.

p.358. After Mitchell returned to his Depot (Mundi) on the Upper Maranoa, one of his Aboriginal guides found he could speak with a local man who - could make himself more intelligible ...than the rest -. [This indicates that Kamilaroi was not spoken at Mundi].

2: 1849: A. MacPherson, the first squatter on Muckadilla Ck.

Allan MacPherson reported that his Mount Abundance sheep and also Frederick Isaac’s Dulacca sheep were taken to the Grafton Ranges by Aborigines. Daniel Bunce also reported on Isaac’s sheep being taken there. These reports suggest that two closely connected clans were involved. From Hovenden Hely’s journal, below, it appears likely that the Combos (or Kumbi) from the Balonne and the Hippi from around Mount Abundance were the perpetrators.

3:. From Hovenden Hely’s 1852 search for Ludwig Leichhardt:

Hely’s Journal: 1852:

p.57. Saturday 24th: Written while camped on Bungil Creek, 3 miles north of the Balonne on the first day after leaving Surat..


I have a native of the Mount Abundance tribe with me whom I am taking on to act as interpreter in endeavouring to find the two of that tribe who know the locality spoken of- he brings the horses in- His name is Tommy Hippi- he is one of those educated natives spoken of in the memoir of the late Mr Mitchell but ... he can hardly speak English- in fact I cannot understand him.

p.58. Sunday 25th: This morning three natives came into the Camp from Surat- [Richard] Walker having left word with them last night- they were reported to be able to show us the spot where Dr. Leichhardt was killed- when questioned however by the Native Tommy Hippi, they endeavoured to evade the question saying that - they had not killed whitemen, neither had their tribe- but that it was people further West called the Pis-ant tribe who had done it- they had only heard of it.- They were evidently afraid that we were come to take revenge on them- they however promised to go to Mt Abundance and find another Hippi who knew the place & would go with us, and are to meet this Evg [evening] at our Camp on the Yalebone- Two of these were Cubbis - and one other Hippi, in fact they are divided into a number of clans bearing these names- with Coogi - Murrie - [see Murree pp128-9]- Combo, and many others.

p.59. Monday 26th April- This morning the three natives left us- promising to join us again at the next Camp 10 miles further on Ucaballa [Paddy McEnroe’s station on the Yalebone]- They went (as they said) in search of the Hippi who knew of the locality where we should find the object of our Search.

pp.89-90. Monday May 17th - at 4.p.m: two black gins made their appearance- bringing me a letter from Capt Anderson (in a cleft stick)- The gins also informed me that the Hippi and two Cubbies who had promised to bring me the guide, had got frightened and gone away into the Bush- but that Walker [ie Richard Walker a freelance frontiersman] had procured another whom he was bringing out with him.

p.95. Friday May 21st. I have been speaking to the two Gins who are still near about from what they say it would appear that the natives on the head of the Maranoa, and even further out have been down to the Coast- These two have been to Limestone, Darling Downs, and the Bunya Mountains, and they say “plenty blackfellow in Limestone from Culba Cobbna- that is the head of the Culba or Maranoa.

p.96. Walker is still hunting for the Native whom I told him to procure, and who the gins told us was coming with him.

p.97. By the way I heard last night from these gins a story recounting the destruction of Leichhardt’s party - one of my blackfellows (Jacky) from the Avon, speaks Camiliroy language, which is almost universal among the natives of the northern interior, I told him to speak to them about the bones etc.

The Younger gin a girl [a married Cubbi?] now about 16 or 17 years old- told him that a long while ago, she was with her tribe a good way off (pointing N.W.) and when away from the camp by herself one day- she met a blackfellow .. - on a horse- that he rushed her, and violated her- that when she went back - her father and her brother caused the tribe to follow this blackfellow & the party he belonged to (which had been previously seen by them) and avenge the injury- that accordingly the men followed and killed the whole party in the manner before described to me. She told Jacky moreover that she had heard there were two blacks in this party - one the Man with the big whiskers [Flash Billy from Stroud] - the other [Wommai] with only very little beard under his chin- She also said that her brother was the Cubbi coming out with Walker.

p.99. Walker has also succeeded in obtaining the services of two natives, one a Chief of great repute amongst the neighbouring tribes [i.e Bussamarai in Goodbye Bussamarai]- and the other a young fellow [Cubbi] who has been out a long way to the North West;

Note: In his summary report to the NSW Legislative Council, Hely stated, Walker had succeeded in obtaining the services of two natives, one a Combo, a leading man amongst the Balonne and Mount Abundance tribes, as interpreter, and the other a Coppi [ie Cubbi], a young man who had just come into the stations for the first time, from a long distance to the north-west. In his summary report, Hely also referred to Old Billy (Combo) and (p.7) stated that Billy led the people who drove MacPherson from Fitzroy Downs after committing all the relevant murders.

p.100. In the Evening I was again talking to the two natives- The Cubbi: said through the medium of the other that he had seen plenty whitemens’ marks on the trees good way out.

p.111. [Monday 1.05.1852 near Mt Abundance.] This Evg Billy & Cubbie our two black guides, said there were blackfellows coming & want to look for them & speak to them.

p.115. Hely said that according to local Aborigines, Maranoa is the name of a large reach of water on the river Culba.

p.126-7. [Sunday June 6, below Mitchell’s Depot at Mundi]. Natives are about, we see them now for the first time- even while I write Cubbie is having a conversation with two- man & woman, who were coming up this way in happy ignorance of our presence until they saw us, when they started off like deer- the man gallantly leaving to her fate his wife who was encumbered with the usual heavy load of worldly goods carried by the Gins.

pp.128-9 [June 6-7 adjacent to the Depot]. a black fellow & three gins having encamped on the opposite side of the river I sent Billy & Cubbie over to them, and they returned saying that, it was an old Murree. This morning soon after daylight I went over to the native Camp with my two Guides, in order to secure the additional services of Murree but the Dr. having just before fired at some ducks the report of the gun had scared them away.

p.129. [At the Depot] Billy says this is Bunderabulla, and that we will see Guns, Saddles, bones of horses etc here- when we look for them, and that the reason the blackfellows said it was so much further away was that they feared the Whites would think by its being so close that they, (the Ballonnis & Cubbis) were those who killed the party. [Note: The Cubbie guide absconded soon after this].

p.140. Thursday June 10th. Cloudy morning threatening more rain - shower at 9.a.m. I started followed by Brown and Walker, taking also Bobby and old Billy the Balonne Native.

p.159. [16.06.1852, on the Upper Maranoa, north from Mitchell’s Camp XXXI]. In the afternoon that is at 1.p.m. I went up the river in search of water, accompanied by Walker, Brown, and our Ballonne Native.

p.166. [19.06.1852. Still on the Upper Maranoa but further on]. Walker returned just after dusk bringing with him a native boy about 8 or 10 years old whom he had found with a Gin, and who had expressed his willingness to accompany us to the spot and show the bones etc - he says he has often been there and seen them - .... Billy [Bussamarai] asked him to come. He said he would, and here he now is - appearing quite at home and at his ease - he says the Creek is five days journey.

Note: In his summary report (p.3), Hely said that this boy spoke Coogi. And on p.9 of the summary, his language - the Coogi- being the furthest known northern dialect.

p.169 [Sunday 20.06.1852. After travelling several miles N-W and N-N-W. The language spoken [here] was Coogi, the farthest known northern dialect. [They were presumably close to the headwaters of the Maranoa River].

p.194-5. [28.06.1852. A few miles east of the Upper Warrego].

we had quite a family party ....not at all frightened - 4 Gins, 2 babies, 2 young Girls, and the boy who has been with us the last week - and who by the way is now perfectly at home- nine besides Billy - ... - the Gin also who had come during my absence (an old woman) said that her son, or step son - (a Cubbie) was camped not far off...

pp.196-7. We rode quietly up, and then found two fine athletic young men ...there were two gins and some children in the back-ground was a Murree - the other Cubbie - I asked the latter- liking his countenance best to come with me, ...- the other was a dour ill-looking fellow- Cubbie agreed to come, and we brought him into the Camp- directly he came in he took in his arms the child belonging to the Gins of last night, and commenced nursing and fondling it, Billy tells me it is his, & the Gin his wife.

[In Hely’s summary, the men above were referred to as a Coppi and a Marri. Hely said these men were also referred to by local Aborigines as Niemen - perhaps to confuse Hely].

pp.198-9. [29.06.1852]. We are now descending- and will I imagine continue to do so till we reach the range of the Victoria from which we cannot be far distant- This country is very good and apparently fairly watered- Natives are numerous- ...The father of one of my guides- Murreeis there and Billy says he [the Murri] wants to come too. I will let him do so, for a walk at all events, as it cannot now make much difference to our ration-

p.205. [Thursday 01.07.1852] We are now I imagine; not having had a Latitude for three days, on the Nive .. - & under the range from which that river (Victoria) flows.

p.210. Friday July 2nd: A total Eclipse of the Moon visible to us took place- between 12 & 2 o’clock this Morning. As I thought- there was something up- our guides ran off- They managed to sneak away one at a time during my own watch this morning- viz. Myself Dr- Edgar- Walker and Jacky- I saw Murree go away from the fire at which he was laying, but took no notice as Edgar said he had been a short distance away twice before during his watch- I was looking at the fire at which the other lay, and Jacky closer to him when he went. ...- They are gone, and we may not see them again or we may- they may bring a tribe to attack us, or they may go quietly back to where we brought them from.

p.211. Edgar came to me during his watch last night and said that blacks were about- that he saw the firesticks himself and that these two wished to go and speak to them, & I told him not to let them- intending to go with them in the morning & speak to the Newcomers if any. Billy now tells us that these were two of the Nyiemen- or Pis-ant Blacks- the tribe who I was first told at Yelculba [i.e Yalculba Lands Office at Surat] had murdered Leichhardt...

Note: in his summary report, Hely referred to the Niemin or Pisant Blacks, who were from a large creek, west of T.L. Mitchell’s Depot after crossing a range. On p.5 of his summary, Hely indicated that the word Niemin meant ant.

p.215. [ 2.07.1852] Mr. Billy has just made his exit, I heard Walker calling him, and hearing no reply, got up, found he had vanished. This looks bad- very bad- We are now at all events completely precluded from any intercourse with the Natives- & what is worse there is I imagine an attack meditated upon us. I never before heard of a Black fellow joining, or being received into a tribe so far away from his own, and by this fellow doing this, I am certain something has been agreed upon between him & the other two guides who left us last night or rather this morning. Billy had the name of being the ringleader, Chief, and greatest- scoundrel in the Mount Abundance Country- supposed to have been the head, and prime mover of all the depredations & murders committed there- He has been so long in our Camp- that he knows all we have & the use of Everything.

p.220. [3.07.1852] The reason of the murder [Leichhardt’s party] was the two blacks in the party ill-treating the gins as they came along which account was also given by the two natives Murree& Cubbie.

p.230. I will also if possible take in this Coogie boy- he will soon learn sufficient English to tell all he knows, and then probably the whole affair may be cleared up.

p.234. {Thursday 8.07.1852. Hely had abandoned the search and was on his way back to Surat.] - if we got hold of a blackfellow there was no one to speak to, or understand him- Walker cannot speak Coogi. When he first heard the story he had an interpreter with him- (the boy before mentioned).

p.244. [Sunday 18.07.1852. Written at Surat after Hely’s return]. I... called him [Mr Billy] to me- When he came up, I pretended as I was in fact)- to be very angry, & asked him where my tomahawk was- he told me at Yamboukle. [This suggests that Yamboukle (Yamboucal) was in Bussamarai’s home country].

p.255-6. Thursday- July 29th [At Werribone station on the way back to Sydney down the Balonne]: - The Blacks are very troublesome here at present, and all down the river, the Stockman at this Station tells me that he is three hundred head short- through the depredations of a noted scoundrel, called - Oorumunde - from the lower Maranoa, who some short time since had the impudence to send a message to the stations, that he was coming to kill the Cattle, and who has faithfully kept his word.

p.258. [Sunday 1.08.1852. At Ogilvie’s Wagoo (Wachoo) Station west of the Balonne]. There are any quantity of natives at this station some just come in quite wild others station blacks- They made a sorry attempt at a Corroboree in the Evening, but it was too cold for them- One big ill-looking old fellow must have come a long distance as he knew the piccaninny that I have brought in [ie the Coogi boy]. He spoke to him in a very angry tone, frightening the poor little wretch- I suppose abusing him for leaving his own people to join the whites.

Note: There was no further references to Queensland Aborigines in Hely’s journal, from which details of the subsequent 2 weeks were not included in the public copy held at Mitchell Library, Sydney.

4. 1852: Native Police Correspondence:

May-June 1852, Sgt Dempster fought with a large number of Culba Galoes who were camped at Wachoo, ie west of the Balonne. Oorumunde and others died in this fight.

Another name used by the squatter W Ogilvie Jnr for his Wachoo Station was Culpa. See Goodbye Bussamarai pp.193-5.

July 1852. Lt G Fulford instructed Sgt Dempster to attend to Aborigines at Bell’s Wandungle, on the Balonne west of Tchanning Creek. These were said to be the same blacks who killed quiet blacks only a short time ago at the Warroo and Wachoo stations. [see my Goodbye Bussamaraip.188].

[This suggests that the Combos lived along the Balonne from St George to Tchanning Creek].

December 1852, Lt G Fulford recorded raids by Culba Aborigines at Gulnabor (west of the Balonne at St George).

5. 1855: William Ridley:

From William Ridley’s Journal of a Missionary Tour Among the Aborigines of Queensland, in the Year 1855: This was published as an Appendix to JD Lang’s Queensland 1861. The extracts below are from the second edition, 1865.

Note: Ridley, who left Brisbane on 21.07.1855, made his journey down the Condamine and Balonne three years after the Native Police killed Bussamarai. About seven years of disruption by settlers and Native Police had occurred before Ridley studied the dialects along the river, starting at Warwick.

p.436: On Western Creek, the head of the Weir, which rises within 12 miles of the Condamine, Ridley found some who spoke Kamilaroi, and bore the family names used on the Namoi.

Ridley said of these people, Although they could speak Kamilaroi, their proper language is Pikumbul (Peekumble): [ie Bigambul today].

p.436: The names of the Kamilaroi-speaking blacks and surrounding tribes are Ippai, Murri, Kubbi, and Kumbo, and the feminine names Ippata, Mata, Kapota, Buta.

Note: The Cubbi and the Murri mentioned by Hovenden Hely in 1852 (above), did not speak Kamilaroi. If there are no other sources apart from Hely, it is possible that Ridley did not mean to suggest that these two groups spoke Kamilaroi but were merely from surrounding tribes.

p.436: I found very few who understood [the Namoi language] until I came to Surat. [He did not however report any contacts between Tchanning Creek and Surat].

p.437: At Surat and Yambukal [TS Hall’s Yamboucal], a mile lower down the river, I found 25 who understood my Kamilaroi.

p.437: At Wirabun [Werribone] 15 miles below Surat, Ridley met a dozen people with whom he could speak [presumably in Kamilaroi [though possibly Ualarai].

pp.437-8: At Bulgora [ie Burgurrah near St George], There were about 40 Aborigines.. Their native dialect is Uolaroi [Ualarai]; and that being very much like Kamilaroi...

p.438: Some of the people I met at Bulgora speak Kogai or Kogurre (that is Ko speach, the language spoken on the Maranoa and over a large extent of country westward of the Condamine. [It is not clear from Ridley’s text if he meant west of the Balonne (ie not the present Condamine), but it is likely that he did].

Note: Ridley found that Kogai had little in common with Kamilaroi but there were some language similarities, just as there were between Kogai and the language spoken at Brisbane.

p.438: During the 50 miles south of Burgurrah, crossing the Culgoa to the west, Ridley met about 100 aborigines and fell in with around 40. Most of those understood Kamilaroi; a few who had come in lately from the westward knew only Kogai.

p.438: NB: Ridley drew attention to the massive disruption that had preceded his visit: on white-occupied stations, the blacks have been awed into submission to the orders which forbid their access to the river.

p.440: Ridley also crossed from the Balonne to the Moonie near Nindigully. He followed the Moonie down to the Barwon and continued down it to the Namoi. The people along this route spoke Kamilaroi as their native tongue, and consequently understood me more readily than the Uolaroi [Ualarai] tribes on the Balun [Balonne].

6. 1859-60: William Telfer Jnr reported that in Ca 1848-9 Aborigines from the western side of the Balonne had assisted the whites to attack aborigines from Warroo station on the eastern side of the Balonne. Presumably the Culbas had crossed the river at the request of the whites.

Summary of my thoughts:

The following conclusions are not presented as being counter to any existing beliefs re Clan homelands. My intention is to draw attention to documents that could add to, or shape, accepted beliefs.

1. The Ualarai language, a version of Kamilaroi, was spoken by a clan that lived on Burgurrah (east of St George) in 1855 when Ridley was there. Mitchell possibly met some of these people on the Narran in 1846.

2. Bussamarai and his Combo [or Kumbi] Clan lived along the Balonne from near Tchanning Creek to around Warroo Station, south of Surat on the east side of the Balonne. The Combo were perhaps a northern clan of other people who lived along the Moonie and Culgoa and who, according to Ridley (and probably Hely), spoke Kamilaroi.

3. The Hippi Clan lived along Muckadilla Creek around Mt Abundance, and possibly along the Yalebone. They were closely connected with the Combo Clan and possibly spoke Kamilaroi, though perhaps Ualarai.

4. It seems likely that there were strong language connections between the Combo and the Hippi with clans from along the Moonie and its creeks. Perhaps there were other closely related clans whose clan names were never recorded.

4. The Cubbi/Culba Clan/Tribe, who spoke Coogi, lived west of the Balonne from south of St Georges Bridge, along the western side of the Maranoa to Mitchell’s depot [Mundi] and further north on that river. They possibly also lived on the eastern side of the Maranoa from around Upper Muckadilla Creek and the headwaters of the Amby, and further north to Mundi. Oorumunde’s name is suggestive of Mundi, a Coogi/Cubbi/Culba place.

The term Culba Aborigines is perhaps a simplistic method of referring to the Cubbi, or perhaps the Cubbi were a Culba Clan. It could of course be a simplistic reference to people who lived along the Culba (Maranoa) River.

If the above is correct, then the Cubbi were not Mandandanjis. This also suggests that no Mandandanji’s lived on the western side of the Maranoa. Also, the people on the eastern side of the Maranoa above the headwaters of Muckadilla and Amby Creeks, to Mundi, were Cubbi/Culba/Coogi.

5. The Murri people that Hely met lived west of the Upper Maranoa near Mundi and further west, perhaps as far as the lands of the Niemin/Pisant near the Upper Warrego


6. The Niemin [or Pisant] if this was a valid name, possibly lived on the Upper Warrego and its north-eastern tributaries.

Thank you for listening to me. Good luck in your hunt for your ancestors. If you pick up some land or compensation along the way then so be it.


Best wishes,

Patrick J Collins 18.10.2002.

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