Gandangara ancestors

The ethnographer Bennett records a sentence in Gandangara meaning ‘I’m going to get off’. The sentence has many associations for Gandangara people. The historian Jim Smith writes, [of the word Katoomba] ‘It would have evoked the memory of groups of women digging up fern roots, washing them in the Cox River, and beating the roots with their special “Katoom” stones, all of this activity taking place under the brooding eyes of one of the monoliths overlooking the fern fields. Katoom fern harvesting would have been time to exploit the maximum starch levels in the roots, probably in summer. The sound of Katoomba was the beat of “Katoom” stones on wooden boards. Katoomba was located at the junction of many pathways from all directions, including those connecting the fern fields to King’s Tableland, the Upper Kedumba Valley, Kia Range, Kiaramba Range by the Policeman Ridge, and the Lower and Middle Cox River areas via the Riverside pathways. Katoomba lies on the Dreaming pathways of Gurangatch and Mirragan and was the site of one of the ancestor Gurangatch’s excursions to Reedy Creek. It was the location of one of the deep pools where Gurangatch rested. Katoomba would have also been located, in Gandangara minds, within the area of many salt springs, near a small cave of medicinal water. It was close to the pathway through the clearings, maintained by burning to attract macropods, and a few hours walk away from the Cedar Creek Art cave. All of the associations would have been brought up by the word Katoomba. All of the associations would have brought the word Katoomba alive for Gandangara people and precisely located it in their mental landscape. Smith, p. 631.

  • Rock engravings
  • Map of Western Sydney
  • Mangrove Creek in Western Sydney, 11,000 years of Aboriginal habitation