Gubbi Gubbi people have walked these lands since the dawn of time.
Dr. Eve Fesl, OAM, CM, is the senior Elder of the Gubbi Gubbi people on her mother’s side, which has a system of matrilineal descent. She is also a member of the Jiman people on her father’s side which has dual descent.
Dr Fesl, obtained her academic degrees from Monash University, where she obtained a PhD. in linguistics and an Honours degree in Anthropology. Of lesser importance to the work associated with the Dyungungoo Care for Land project were subjects in International Law, specifically International Environmental Law and Law of the Sea.
Whilst at Monash University she became head of the Koorie Research Centre and established Aboriginal Studies Courses for undergraduates to Honours level. Part of the courses dealt with mortuary rites in various Aboriginal societies throughout parts of Australia.
An important request was made by Victorian Koories of Assoc. Professor Fesl to hold a special ceremony in 1980 known as “The Year of Mourning”. She did this by having a plaque of remembrance laid in the grounds of Nunawading Council (it is still there although the Council has become Box Hill). Two hundred people attended and participated in the ceremony. Mrs. Serico (Eve’s Mother) sang the cry of Mourning for all Aboriginal people.
A copy of that cry is still held by Dr. Fesl and may be used at Mooloolaba, a very special, spiritual place to Mrs. Serico who was instrumental in choosing the location of Dyungungoo.
Mortuary rites differed throughout Australia, those in Northern Australia differed considerably from those in the South, however, with the arrival of missionaries most groups adopted burial as part of the rites of passage.
Gubbi Gubbi rites also altered in this respect. Traditional rites included the burning of bodies, breaking of the bones into small sections, then being bound together and placed in what were called “burial trees” (one of which still remains outside the Noosa Council chambers on Gubbi Gubbi traditional land). The ceremonies included the singing of the mortuary song, usually by women.
In the Mooloola Valley, prior practices of placing bodies in burial trees, would have been jeopardised by the severe floods which continue flowing down the river today. It is therefore quite likely that burials would have altered both in type and place. The presence of caves near the property may have provided a suitable area for the placement of bound bodies.
THE PLAQUE INSCRIPTION
In memory of all Koorie men and women murdered by the invaders, women and children who were sexually abused and children who were separated from their parents. All people who died of malnutrition and those who died of poisoning and introduced diseases. We Remember in this Year of Mourning 1980
Dr Eve Fesl and her Dingo Tookoo beside the plaque for all Aboriginal people.
Film supplied courtesy James Muller of Earth Base Productions