Public Libraries

Koori Heritage Stories

The Story

Location of Object:

Copies of the publication can be found in the Bermagui, Bega, Tura Marrang and Eden Libraries.

Accessibility of Object:

The library opening hours are as follows:

Bega - Zingel Place, Bega, NSW, 2550

  • Monday to Friday 9:30am - 5:30pm
  • Saturday 9am - 12pm
  • Closed public holidays

Bermagui - Bermagui Community Centre, Bunga Street, Bermagui, NSW, 2546

  • Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 9:30am - 5pm
  • Saturday 9am - 12pm
  • Closed Wednesdays and public holidays

Eden - Cnr Mitchell and Imlay Streets, Eden, NSW, 2551

  • Tuesday to Friday 9:30am - 5pm
  • Saturday 9am - 12pm
  • Closed Mondays and public holidays

Tura Marrang Library and Community Centre - Tura Beach Drive, Tura Beach, NSW, 2548

  • Monday to Friday 9:30am - 5:00pm
  • Saturday 9am - 12pm
  • Closed public holidays

History and Provenance of Object:

‘Koori Heritage Stories’ was produced as part of a larger Aboriginal cultural heritage study undertaken in 2010 and was a joint venture involving a number of agencies and the Local Aboriginal Land Councils.

The book was launched in Bega at the Bega Showground on Wednesday 28 November 2012. The location of the book launch was chosen as the site was traditionally used by Aboriginal people as a ceremonial ground.


This collection of stories aims to foster a better understanding of how it has felt to be a Koori person in the Bega Valley.The storytellers offer an intergenational perspective on Koori culture, heritage and history and reveal how attitudes, policies and practices have impacted on them overtime.

The stories speak of the many unique ways Koori people identify as a distinct cultural group; through kinship, through knowing country; through language and through shared histories. The narrative expressed in these life stories is underpinned by national historical obstacles, which serve to highlight why the contributions made by Koori people in this region were so significant. For many it is the first time their personal stories have been documented; often an emotional experience.

As the reader works their way through the collection of stories the overlap of individual stories becomes apparent and combine to form an overall picture of the lives and heritage of Koori people of the far south coast. All are part of the interrelated families that stretch through the whole south coast and beyond into Victoria, the north and to the west.

Similar publications have been produced all along the east coast of New South Wales as part of a series of publications celebrating Indigenous Heritage.

Fabric, design, manufacture and condition:



Researched and compiled by: Susan Dale Donaldson and Sue Norman

Project partners: The Bega Valley Shire Aboriginal Heritage Steering Committee, Bega Valley Shire Council, NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, Bega Local Aboriginal Land Council, Merrimans Local Aboriginal Land Council, Eden Local Aboriginal land Council , Biamanga National Park Board of Management, Aboriginal Elder groups and Aboriginal community members.

Project sponsors: NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, Biamanga National Park Board of Management, Bega Valley Shire Council, NSW Southern Rivers Catchment Management Authority.

Edited by: Susan Dale Donaldson and Sue Norman

Layout: Kim Robinson Graphic Design

Printed by: Penrith Art Printing

Cover image: ‘Jungar Hunting’ painting by Lee Cruise 2011

Used by:

The participants of this project tell these stories with great generosity - to share personal lives with the reader is often an emotional experience. The people telling these stories have survived the terrible history of invasion, genocide and assimilation through the resilience that comes that being part of an extended family. The participants and Koori community in general valued this project as a way of education and sharing with future generations, who can now learn about the challenges local Kooris faced, be proud of the achievements they forged and acknowledge the contributions they made to the economic development of the region.

The publication was distributed to local Aboriginal Lands Councils, libraries, schools, community groups and medical centres within the Bega Valley Shire.


ISBN: 978 1 74293 710 6

Production / manufacturing date:

Published in 2012


The particular significance of this Object:

Koori Heritage Stories’ is important to local Aboriginal people because it recorded the recollections of a disappearing generation. Indeed, in the course of the project four of the elders involved passed away.

It is also an especially important historical document because it covers an era of monumental change for the local Koori people.

The book, in particular, highlights the significant roles that Aboriginals played in (now largely defunct) industries such as sleeper cutting, timber milling, pea and bean picking, and fish canning on the South Coast, and how these employment opportunities melded into vividly-remembered and significant family and Yuin cultural activities.

Local Aboriginals view this ‘Koori Heritage Stories’ project as being particularly important. It was really the first time many had been asked to record their personal experiences and have them published in a book that was developed, written and illustrated by their own people. This project provided them with a greatly appreciated, sense of recognition, ownership and acceptance.

Further information:


Main theme:




Aboriginal cultures and interactions with other cultures


Aboriginal People’s Cultural Heritage and Connections to Bega Valley Shire

Other themes:











Environment - cultural landscape












Social Institutions


Working the land in Bega Valley Shire

Economic survival in the Bega Valley

Cultural landscapes within the Bega Valley

Living in the Bega Valley

Exploiting the aquatic resources of Bega Valley Shire

Health and well-being in the Bega Valley Shire

Technological innovation in the Bega Valley Shire

Housing locals and visitors in the Bega Valley Shire

Working in the Bega Valley Shire

Education and learning institutions within the Bega valley Shire

Wartime in the Bega Valley Shire

Caring for the needs of others in Bega Valley Shire

Religious life in Bega Valley Shire

Sociality in Bega Valley Shire

Thematic storylines:

Aboriginal culture - Place of ceremony

Rural and regional industries – Agricultural and Pastoral

Rural and regional industries – Timber

Rural and regional industries – Sealing and whaling

Rural and regional industries – Commercial fishing, oystering and aquaculture


Entertainment and social life

Labour, working and employment

Geological and natural heritage

First Nations heritage

Geographically associated places / sites:

Baranguba (Montague Island)

Gulaga Mountain (Mt Dromedary)

Najanuka Mountain (Little Dromedary)

Wallaga Lake

Mumbulla Mountain

Bunga Head


Jilla (Jellat Jellat)

Haycock Point

Monaroo Bobberrer Gudu Jigamy Farm

Davidson Whaling Station

Balawan Mountain (Mt Imlay)

Associated / linked places / sites / items / people:

Heritage listings (statutory and non-statutory):

Contributors to this ‘library’:

Carley McGregor

Graham Moore

Photos courtesy of Bega Valley Shire Council and Bega District News.

This work is licensed to South Coast History Society Inc. under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. You may copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format; remix, transform or build upon the material; BUT you must give appropriate credit and provide a link to this license and indicate if changes have been made; you must not use the material for commercial purposes and, if you remix, transform or build upon this material, you must distribute your contributions under the same license as this original.

This Bega Shire Hidden Heritage project has been made possible by the NSW Government through its Heritage Near Me program.

Any further information about local World War I Honor Rolls, locally issued ‘farewell’ gifts, etc. or their associated histories will be GREATLY welcomed and will be added to the above library of information.

Please email your contribution to

References and bibliography:

Bega District News, 30 November 2012


Zingle Place Bega NSW 2550