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Gringai otherwise known as Guringay, is the name for one of the Australian Aboriginal people who were recorded as inhabiting an area of the Hunter Valley in eastern New South Wales, north of Sydney. They were united by a common language, strong ties of kinship and survived as skilled hunter–fisher–gatherers in family groups as a clan of the [Worimi] people.[1]


The Gringai /Guringay Have lived continually on the Barrington and Dungog area NSW long before first white settlers in 1826.Government Documents, News Papers, Photos, Journals, Aboriginal Sites, references ban be found in regards to the Gringai.

The Watoo - (Opossum) of the Gringai / Guringay have lived continually in the Gloucester,Barrington long before first white settlers in 1826 Many Government Documents, news papers, photos, journals, Aboriginal sites, references and personal stories can be found on the Gringai. The Gringai are not a branch of the Wonnarua .

AIATSIS reference name: Guringay

Comment: According to Wafer and Lissarrague (2008:169-170), Guringay appeared quite frequently in the early records but not in contemporary maps or lists of NSW languages. Their analsysis of Gringai (E95*) vocabulary collected by Scott (1929:44-50) and the Taree dialect, i.e. Gadhang E67* reveal that they are dialects of the same language. Wafer and Lissarrague (2008: 167 - 168) treat Gadhang (Taree dialect) E67*, Warrimay E2, Guringay (Gringai) E95*, and Birrbay E3 as dialects of one language, which they call 'Lower North Coast Language'.

Scott (1929:44-50) has a word list, and according to Lissarrague (2010:10) 'the manuscript, Vocabulary of the Allyn River Black' (Anonymous 1845) is assumed to be Guringay. The documentation score is based on this information. Not to be confused with Ku-ring-gai S62.

AIATSIS reference name: Wonnarua

Comment: Lissarrague (2006) describes the 'Language from the Hunter River & Lake Macquarie' as the language which was spoken by people known as Awabakal S66, Kuringgai S62, Wonnarua S63, and possibly Geawegal E1. In her later work with Wafer (Wafer and Lissarrague 2008:164-165), however, Wanarruwa (S63) is treated as a dialect name (or a both a dialect name and a people name) - it is a dialect of the 'Hunter River-Lake Macquarie language'.

The term, the Hunter River-Lake Macquarie language, appears to be adopted by some but not all peers, and it is not separately listed in this database.

The Australian Agriculture Company (A.A Company) formed in England in 1824 with $1M capital, took up a grant of 1,000,000 acres of land extending from Port Stephens to the Manning River. Robert Dawson established Headquarters at Carrington, Port Stephens in early 1826 explored the Karuah River and naming places he had passed along the way. He continued to follow the Karuah River north, arriving in Gloucester in November 1826. As the land appeared ideal for grazing and agriculture, early settlement was encouraged. Later an outstation at Gloucester was established where "The Homestead" is located today.

Our Clan occupied the valleys year-round, visiting the plateaus in spring and summer to gather food. During winter would hunt kangaroos, emus, possums and wombats, fish and other animals. A wide range of plant foods was collected from the lowland forests. The edible fruits found in the Barrington Tops area include: orange thorn, wild apple tree, figs, native cherry, geebung, native raspberry, lillypilly and Bush medicines. Other traditional plant foods include the bulbs of many orchids and the starch from the crown of tree ferns and the starch from stinging tree roots being roasted to make bread. When Europeans settled in the Gloucester-Manning area in the 1820s and 1830s, the Aboriginal people lost their homelands to logging, clearing and livestock. Traditional hunting grounds were depleted, and sacred sites were destroyed. Wildlife dwindled. Oral history tells us that by 1840 the natural food supplies were almost exhausted. Starving Aboriginal people began killing stock The settlers and government troopers retaliated with random shootings and massacres. Around the Manning Valley basin, there were reports of waterholes and gifts of food being laced with arsenic known as "The Harmony " the first recorded method of killing Aboriginal people with arsenic in NSW. The Worimi, Biripi and Gringai were divided into a number of Nurras or clans. Nurras were local groups within tribes, each occupying a definite part of the tribal territory. The Worimi , Gringai and Biripi speak the Kattang language.

The Gringai are the custodians within the boundaries of the Allyn and Williams river up stream to Gummi Falls on the Manning River known as Kummi Kummi - Barrington Tops – (Beann Beann), Rawdon Vale, Barrington, Gloucester up to the Manning river down to Dungog, Cresford and Worimi from Cresford , Patterson to the Hunter River and Port Stephens up the coast to Manning River Taree .

Barrington Tops National Park and State Conservation Area overlie the territories of several Aboriginal groups the eastern side is the traditional country of the Worimi and Biripi people. The southern valleys were occupied by the Gringai the western side is Wonnarua country. The Biripi took in the area between Tuncurry, Taree and Gloucester. Worimi territory extended from Barrington Tops and Forster in the north, to Maitland and the Hunter River in the south.

The Gringai are now very strong in numbers even after the killings and blood shed. many Gringai people still live on Country yet regardless of what history has been recorded by whites, Government and Gringai People.The use of the word Gringai has been moulded and Fashioned to suite a small minority of people.



The Gringai have and always have been a sub branch of the Worimi Tribe [Worimi] Williams River Barrington tops, Dungog, Barrington and Gloucester (New South Wales) and trade with the Paterson River Aboriginals[2] The centre of their territory is on the land where the modern town of Dungog (perhaps 'clear hills' in the Gringai dialect)[3] lies.[4]


Two people of the Gringai are known by that name as a result of their arrest and subsequent trials. Wong-ko-bi-kan (Jackey) and Charley were both arrested within a year or so of each other in the 1830s. He was judged guilty nonetheless and sentenced to be transported to Tasmania for manslaughter after spearing a John Flynn on 3 April 1834. Flynn died soon after. Flynn had been a member of an armed troop of 9 settlers who went to the aborigines' camp at the Williams River at dawn to arrest some of them for culling sheep on their land. Wong-ko-bi-kan could, in another perspective, be said to have been defending the native camp from armed intruders.[5] Wong-ko-bi-kan's case elicited some sympathy among the presiding judge and several observers, for the way in which the settlers had provocatively approached the native camp. Wong-ko-bi-kan died in his Tasmanian prison soon after, in October of that year.[6][7]

Another Gringai, known only as Charley, in May 1835, soon after the incident with Wong-ko-bi-kan, was arrested and, in August of that year, deemed responsible for the death of 5 convict shepherds working for Robert Mackenzie, later premier of Queensland, at rawden Vale 26 miles west of Gloucester.[a] Though generally understood by Europeans as an act of warfare, the trial interpreter, Lancelot Threlkeld, in whom he had confided stated that Charley had acted after an Englishman had stolen a tribal talisman, called a muramai, and that the victims cohabited with a native woman, to whom the sacred object was shown. For this reason he implemented tribal law after a decision had been taken to that end by the elders. After his sentence he was brought back to Dungog and hung publicly as a warning to other Gringai.[9] Local historian Michael Williams comments that, 'Charley, ... was both an enforcer of one law and the victim of the enforcement of another set of laws.'[10] One late story, recounted in 1922 in the Wingham Chronicle, suggests that a raiding party set out to enforce the verdict by hunting other Gringai, managing to round some up and push them all over a cliff at Barrington.[10][b]

Syphilis contracted from convicts, and other introduced diseases, took their toll. In 1847 alone, 30 Gringai children died of measles.[11]

Ceremonial life[edit]

Key rites in the ceremonial life of the Gringai and related tribes, such as the keeparra, were described by Walter John Enright and R.H. Mathews in the late 19th century who managed to obtain permission to view and records them from the last remnants of the tribe.[12][13]

One of the Gringai Bora rings used in the initiation is reported to have been at Gresford[14] A karabari was reported as having been performed on the occasion of the appearance of a comet in the sky in 1845/1846.[15]

grounds of the local tribe, was in the Bulliac-Tugrabakh area, 4 miles (6 km) from Gloucester. Another two Bora rings where they used to camp and hold their corroborees are located where the Gloucester Public School now stands; one ring was used by the women and the other used by the men.[citation needed]

Some words[edit]

  • wilhurgulla (place of little sticks)
  • erringi ( black duck)
  • monduk (fertility)[3]

Alcooingha - Good spirit Baal - Bad Baan Baan - Big open plain Bai bai-tomahawk Baibai-tomahawk Bakh - Place Bakkut-stone Barlee burjaree barricut twainboo-Friend give me two boomerangs Barlee cubboo-Friend wait Barlee-Friend,Brother Bartoo-water Batai-Snake Battoo-Water Beai-you Beautoo-smoke Beeya-Father Beia-Father Berrico - A deep water hole or rocky pool in a creek Berrit-Wallaby Beti-old Woman Biddeewick-Squirrel Bigyai-Father Bingai-Brother, elder Boocool-Carpet Snake Boocot-Bandicoot Booey - Dead Booeywilla or Boawilla - Buried Stone Locality Dares place Gloucester River Bookan,Buccan or Boogan- Up and down or Big rock locality Gloucester Buckets Boolan Boolan - Big battle at Waukivory Booloora koori-two Aboriginal men Boolora Booreit-one Boolora booreit- two Boolora wakool-three Boolorakoo boo-four Boombingaragist - Small eels,localityright hand branch of Wards creek, Parish Koonga Boombingragate-Steep side Boombut-Young man Boomi-yesterday

Alternative names[edit]


Notes and references[edit]

Explanatory notes[edit]

  1. ^ In Upper Ghangat, 12 miles northeast of Gloucester, five convicts tending cattle had taken revenge on the local tribe by lacing damper with arsenic and giving it as a gift to the natives. Many warriors died. The area became anathema to the tribe, calling it Baal bora (apparently, 'place to be shunned')[8]
  2. ^ a strong body of settlers from the Williams and Allen Rivers struck out to the north west, ascending the Williams and Chichester Rivers. They ascended the lofty Mackenzie Tableland and located the first body of fugitive natives camped on the northern face of the mountain on a narrow shelf above a gigantic cliff which overhung a 'tangled mass of brush and vines. Silently and surely they laid their plans and long ere the dawn of day the sleeping camp was encircled from cliff edge to cliff edge. Day broke and the sleeping blacks arose. Then maddened with fear under the gunfire they broke hither and thither in vain attempts to escape. Then panic stricken they turned to the cliff edge and sprang into space and, so perished. At a small plain a mile west of the present Cobakh Station the Port Stephens men came into conflict with the remaining body of natives, but the fugitives broke and fled northwards to a little flat-on the Bowman River. Here the final tragedy occurred; a stand was made by the blacks, but in vain. Years afterwards their unburied skeletons could be seen. The law claimed yet another victim. A native was captured and executed at Dungog, near where the present Court House stands.'[8]


  1. ^ Miller 1985, pp. xv, 110.
  2. ^ Williams 2012, p. 15.
  3. ^ a b Williams 2012, p. 16.
  4. ^ Roginski 2015, p. 15.
  5. ^ Williams 2012, p. 23.
  6. ^ R. v. Jackey [1834].
  7. ^ Williams 2012, pp. 17–18.
  8. ^ a b W. 1922, p. 2.
  9. ^ Williams 2012, pp. 18–19.
  10. ^ a b Williams 2012, p. 19.
  11. ^ Williams 2012, p. 22.
  12. ^ Mathews 1896, pp. 320–340.
  13. ^ Enright 1899, pp. 115–124.
  14. ^ Williams 2012, p. 29.
  15. ^ Fraser 1892, p. 23.
  16. ^ Mathews 1896, p. 321.


Further reading[edit]