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Montague Island - Aboriginal History
Montague Island was called ‘Barunguba’ by the Aboriginal people of the Walbanga and Djiringanj tribes.

The island is a ‘mens’ ceremony, initiation and teaching place and part of ‘Guluga’ (Mount Dromedary) dreaming. According to legend ‘Barunguba’ is part of a social and cultural complex which includes several important landscape features, particularly that of Mount Dromedary (Rose, 1990).

The island holds considerable significance for the local Koori Elders, in particular the sacred site that can only be viewed from a distance, and known locally by the European name of ‘The Sisters’.

Barunguba was an important seasonal food source for the Aboriginal community, with the abundance of seabirds including shearwaters (muttonbirds), penguins, eggs, fish, and possibly seals. A thin scattering of artefacts and hearth stones occurs over most of the island, with concentration seeming to appear with the locations of bird breeding colonies, particularly shearwaters (Sullivan 1975).

View of Mount Dromedary from Montague Island.

Even after European contact, the Aborigines were still visiting Barunguba, with a newspaper article in the Moruya Examiner dated 1892 recounting the story by local Aborigines about the drowning of 150 members of the Wagonga Tribe, when their canoes were swamped in a squall during their return from the island early in the 19th century.

Source: Montague Island Nature Reserve, Plan of Management (November 1995) - NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service

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