Language can hold powerful connections to Country. Aboriginal languages embrace all the elements of the Australian landscape – geological, environmental and spiritual.
Place names such as that of Yarrahapinni Mountain near Scotts Head reflect the Gumbaynggirr story of the koala in its meaning ‘koala rolling downhill.’
Many Aboriginal place names have been overwritten by European names or have been lost. But there is a strong movement to revive Aboriginal place names across Australia, in celebration of this rich history of language.
Many First Nations people portray koalas in ceremonies and corroborees, highlighting the relationship between koalas and people.
The Gumbaynggirr people of the Mid North Coast of NSW once performed koala increase ceremonies to build koala numbers during breeding season and in times of extreme weather.
Increase ceremonies were also performed for various other wildlife and often involved calling the appropriate name, retouching cave paintings, or acting out aspects of the animal’s behaviour.
Corroboree – an Aboriginal dance ceremony which may take the form of a sacred ritual or an informal gathering.