"Bundjalung & Arakwal People"


The area known as the Northern Rivers is native home to the “Bundjalung People” at the time of the first European settlement, around twenty different dialects of the Bundjalung language were spoken in the Northern NSW coast to South East coast of Queensland region.

In resource rich areas like Cape Byron, Aboriginal land-owning clans groups with at least 100 members subsisted within relatively small territories. The boundaries of these territories were generally known and were clearly established in local mythology. The presence of a Bundjalung people’s ceremonial ring or ‘bora’ at the west end of the town of Lennox Head suggests that this area played an important part in Bundjalung traditional life. The ‘bora’ here is usually large, measuring 32 meters across.

According to Bundjalung dreamtime, 3 brothers settled on what is known as seven mile beach (between Lennox and Broken Head) and one of them Yarbirri produced a flow of fresh water by thrusting his spear into the sand. At low tide there is said to be a stain where the water flowed. It has been estimated that between 400-500 Bundjalung people were living in the area prior to the arrival of European settlers.

Bundjalung people lived in the Cape Byron area for many thousand years. The Minjungbal name for Byron Bay was Cavanbaa & Idquo; meeting place. The area further east within Cape Byron headland Reserve (palm valley, Wategos Beach locality) was called Currenba because of the water channels (curraby means gully), while the cape itself was known as Walgun, the shoulder. Walgun was also a place for ceremony and spiritual inspiration and remains part of many Dreamtime stories.

The ARAKWAL people are the recognised custodians of Byron Bay. They are a subgroup of Bundjalung tribes of North East NSW & Idqou; King Bobby was the king when there was large camp at Byron Bay near the cross roads of Lawson & Feltcher Street. There were 79 people of the Bumberin camped there in 1896; King Bobby was then an old man and died 2 or 3 years later. He had one son Harry Bray who succeeded to the kingship when he died.

Harry Bray is often mentioned in local historical sources. During the late 19th Century Harry is said to have lived in a camp at Tallow Creek, some four kilometers south of Cape Byron. He was apparently not a permanent resident of this camp however, as he has also been reported as living further south wets at Midgen Flat during this time. Descendants of this tribe live in the area today who trace their lineage back to Harry Bray.

Harry and his wife Clara and several children lived in a wood and bark gunya which was a traditional native home on the land where the Byron Beach Resort is today. He worked for the local farmers and was well regarded.

His diet included many native foods which were abundant at the time, many plants and fish are still found in the area today. Snakes, fish, pippies, oysters, prawns, echidna and wallaby were supplemented by palm hearts, native yams, peanuts, figs, midgenberries, as well as native herbs as remedies and medicines.

At Temple Byron we continually honor the original guardians of this land, area or environment through celebrating, ceremony, prayer, puja and many fire ceremonies. We celebrated the "Fire the Grid Ceremony" where sacred ashes were bought from the original Fire from the Tent Embassy in Canberra in 1976 and still burns to this very day.