|In the 1870s, local landowner James
Neale bought Betty Murrundah, a Gundungurra Aborigine, to the cliff-tops
near here and asked her the name of this place. She said:
Katoomba, Kedumba or Godoomba. Different people heard it
differently - it was the name for what we call the Jamison Valley.
When she was asked what was the meaning of the word - again there
are different reports of what she said. The essence of the
various meanings was that Katoomba was known as "the valley of
When the Gundungurra travelled through the Jamison Valley they
looked up and saw Wentworth Falls, Gordon Falls, Leura Falls and
Katoomba Falls, shining in the sun.
This is a sight unique in Australia.
I believe that stories of the Jamison Valley were known throughout
Aboriginal Australia. Like such places as Uluru and the Bungle
Bungles, the Katoomba Valley was a place so unique that stories of its
creation were valued by all Aboriginal Australians.
Betty Murrundah was one of the generation of Aborigines born around
the 1840s. I will tell you the names of some other
Gundungurra born about this time. These are the children
who came with their parents in the 1840s to Hartley Courthouse to
collect their blanket each year from the Government. Mullinga;
Munbinga; Burbua; Ginga; Mithagoran; Mudjery; Munjowee; Gawel;
Mimigomobbee; Genaballa; Gillanai
Billy Russell or Werriberri said that Gundungurra children were
usually named after the place where they were born. Tens of
thousands of these place names were lost, never recorded by us.
Perhaps Mimigomobbee was a place near here. We'll never know.
We'll probably never know what happened to these children. They
seem to disappear from history. This was the last generation of
Gundungurra known by true Aboriginal names, the last Gundungurra to be
initiated and hear all of the stories of this country.
Also born about the same time as these Aboriginal children were the
men who played a part of the building of the Federal Pass - some of
them were: Charles Lindeman; William Goyder; John Nash; John North;
Solomon Hyam; Duncan McKillop; George Kitch; William Copeland; John
Tabrett. Some were born in Europe. All were bought up very
differently to the Aboriginal children who went to Hartley for their
blankets. Most achieved comfortable financial status, were
property owners by our laws and had a degree of local fame.
Their names were not lost to history. In the 1890s these men had
a dream to link two of the waterfalls in the Katoomba Valley with a
pathway, so that people could make a pilgrimage between them. Their
dream was achieved with the help of a large number of donations from
most of the local families and officially opened at this spot exactly
100 years ago.
Ten years later, with the construction of the Wentworth and
Lindeman Passes, all of the great Gundungurra waterfalls were linked
with a continuous walking track. When walking the Federal Pass
we can become aware of the presence of the millions of people who have
travelled along it and the spirits of the Gundungurra. Recently
an idea has been spreading that, with the deepest respect for the
ancient Aboriginal dreamings of this continent, we settlers have made
the beginnings of a white man's dreaming in this country. We
have created art, stories, pathways and monuments that will be valued
by Australians for thousands of years into the future. One of
the stories that goes to make up the white man's dreaming in this
region is the epic of the creation of the Blue Mountains walking track
I will suggest one way in which we can approach reconciliation in
the Blue Mountains. When we make the pilgrimage along the
pathways linking the Gundungurra waterfalls we can be aware that we
are in what will always be the home of the Gundungurra people.
The descendents of the Gundungurra are today living with us in our
communities. Let us walk with them, sharing our stories of this