Stop and smell the forest – part 1: Indigenous presence


Facebook. Youtube. Google Calendar. Gmail. These information platforms may have most of your attention as you make your way to work, study, or even to have a coffee after arriving at either Nathan or Mount Gravatt campus.

But take a moment to look around – the forest that envelops Mount Gravatt and Nathan campuses, Toohey Forest, has a rich history. 

The natural area that encircles the bricks and mortar of both campuses was and is an important land area to a number of Aboriginal language/tribal groups.

In the past, the bushland around our first two campuses provided aboriginal tribes with timber from Stringybark trees (which can be found around the Eastern car park and Nathan student residences) – used to make canoes and huts. Wood from Ironbark trees (which are predominant along the northern part of Nathan’s Ring Road) were used by Aborigines to make weapons and as long-burning firewood.  

Mount Gravatt mountain (or Kaggur Madul in Indigenous Yugara dialect which means ‘echidna mountain’) is about 500 metres from the actual campus buildings and this area was once abundant in echidnas (spiny anteaters) which were used by First Australians as both a food source and for needles (the sharp quills) in sewing cloaks and other forms of clothing.

The Toohey Forest area was not just used by indigenous people for resources. The land was also extremely important for use in ceremonies and social interactions.

A twenty minute walk from Nathan campus through the bush (on the border with the suburb of Tarragindi) is the site of a Bora Ring where initiation ceremonies for Aboriginal boys were performed. This ‘rite of passage’ would see indigenous lads taught traditional songs, dances and the lore of their respective tribe.

The land around Mount Gravatt campus is believed to have been used in the past for Indigenous burial/funeral ceremonies. This included such practices as placing a deceased person in a tree hollow or placing selected bone from dead individuals into rock crevices, in caves or on cliffs.

Not only does Toohey Forest have a rich Indigenous presence, it is also rich in natural flora and fauna. Keep an eye out for Stop and Smell the Forest Parts 2 and 3 on these! Or check out the Griffith Archive website for more interesting information like this.

So next time you are making your way around Nathan or Mount Gravatt campus – look up from your device, and take a moment to stop and smell the forest.


2 Comments on “Stop and smell the forest – part 1: Indigenous presence”

  1. This is my favourite post this year! Thank you.

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  2. Techwitty says:

    “Mount Gravatt mountain (or Kaggur Madul in Indigenous Yugara dialect which means ‘echidna mountain’) is about 500 metres from the actual campus buildings and this area was once abundant in echidnas (spiny anteaters) which were used by First Australians as both a food source and for needles (the sharp quills) in sewing cloaks and other forms of clothing.”

    Thats crazy, I never knew they ate them!

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