The Quandamooka people of Stradbroke Island
It's a humbling experience to see underwater giants like Wobbegong sharks and Eagle Rays, but my favourite part of North Stradbroke Island is it's proximity to the Humpback Whale migration. I've chased these beauties from South Coast New South Wales, to the Sunshine Coast and the Western side of Australia, still in awe of their majesty.
Stradbroke is also home to a relatively successful conglomerate of Indigenous people living alongside exclusive holiday homes and a more recent expatriation of mainlanders looking for the ultimate lifestyle.
The Quandamooka people have lived on or around Southern Moreton Bay for tens of thousands of years. Archaeological evidence dates occupation of Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island) back to at least 21,000 years ago. Many tribes mingled on Minjerribah and local people identify the Noonuccal and Goenpul as the traditional owners of the Island and surrounding waters. The Dunwich area was called Goompee or Coompee, from a word meaning pearl oyster. It has always been home to a sizeable indigenous population, as well as a seasonal visiting place for tribes from other areas.
The Quandamooka people are the traditional owners of Stradbroke Island and Morton Bay. After many land title battles, they are now fighting to change the name to Minjerribah (Island in the sun) to pay tribute to its ancestral heritage.
Here is an excerpt from Kathleen Jean Mary Ruska's beautiful book of poetry and art -
All the animals, the birds and reptiles awoke and followed the Rainbow Serpent, the Mother of Life, across the land. They were happy on earth and each lived and hunted for food with his own tribe. The kangaroo, wallaby and emu tries lived on the plains. The reptile tribes lived among the rocks and stones, and the bird tribes flew through the air and lived in the trees...
The Rainbow Serpent made laws that all were asked to obey... the law breakers were turned to stone, and became mountains and hills, to stand for ever and watch over the tribes hunting for food at their feet. But those who kept her laws she turned into human form, and gave each of them his own totem of the animal, bird or reptile whence they came. So the tribes knew themselves by their own totems: the kangaroo, the emu, the carpet snake, and many, many more.; And in order that none should starve, she ruled that no man should eat of his own totem, but only of other totems. In this way there was food for all.
So all the tribes lived together in the land given to them by the Mother of Life, the Rainbow Serpent; and they knew that the land would always be theirs, and that no one should ever take it from them.
Stradbroke Dreamtime, Oodgeroo Noonuccal