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Gumbaynggir (also "Kumbainggar", as pronounced by the first European settlers) are an Australian Aboriginal group on the Mid North Coast of New South Wales. The Gumbaynggirr Nation is from Tabbimoble Yamba- Clarence River to Ngambaa-Stuarts Point, SWR- Macleay. The Gumbaynggirr have the largest midden-shell deposit in the Southern Hemisphere.[citation needed]


Gumbaynggiric languages

Gumbaynggir is classified as one of the two Gumbaynggiric languages of the Pama–Nyungan family. In 1986 the Muurrbay Aboriginal Language and Culture Co-operative was established by Gumbaynggirr elders to revive their language and hand it on.[1] Language classes began in 1997, and by 2010 some several hundred people had some partial grasp of the language.[2]


Muurrbay in Gumbaynggir means the white fig tree and plays an important part in the Gumbaynggir Yuludarla (Gumbaynggir Dreamings).[3]

The Gumbaynggirr made sweets (bush lollies, called jaaning)[a] by rolling tender shoots from the Acacia irrorata in the sap oozing from the tree.[4]


The Gumbaynggirr lands extend over an estimated 2,300 square miles (6,000 km2)[5] covering an area of the Mid North Coast from the Nambucca River to as far north as the Clarence River (Grafton), and eastward to the Pacific coast. Norman Tindale specified its limits as bounded by the lower course of Nymboida River, stating that the territory ran toward Urunga, Coffs Harbour, and Bellingen. It included South Grafton and Glenreagh. It took in the coastal strip south from near One Tree Point, Woolgoolga and Nambucca Heads.[5] The thin coastal zone from Coffs Harbour to Evans Head was Yaygir territory.[6]

To their north were the twenty groups speaking various dialects of the Bandjalang. The Jukambal were to their west and the Nganyaywana/Anēwan in the environs of (Armidale). Their southern boundaries met with those of the Djangadi and Ngamba.[6]


Clement Hodgkinson was the first European to make contact with the local Aboriginal community when he explored the upper reaches of the Nambucca and Bellinger Rivers in March 1841. Three decades later, loggers began to work their way up through the Orara River cedar stands in the 1870s, and in clearing the land, opened up the prospect of selectors to squat on the tribal territories in the early 1880s.[7][8] Soon after, in that same decade, a shepherd was murdered in the area and a hunting party was dispatched to exact revenge, resulting in the Red Rock Massacre.[9] The slaughter started at Blackadder Creek where the Gumbaynggirr were camping. Mounted troopers entered the camp and began shooting. Those who fled were tracked down to the Corindi Creek where more were shot. Those who survived were driven to the headland and herded off the rocks into the sea. The hunters kept shooting at the swimmers, but some hid in a cave and make their way to Corindi Lake further south.[10][11] One of the survivors was the present day elder Tony Perkins' grandmother, who crouched down in a thicket of bulrushes with a child in her arms.[10]

After a court battle lasting two decades, the Gumbaynggirr claim to much of the reserve around the site in 2014 was confirmed by the New South Wales Land and Environment Court.[12]

Current population[edit]

Today current Gumbaynggirr population in the area of this tribe is about 18,000.[citation needed]

The Gumbaynggir are an active people who recently represented themselves at the "New Way" Sovereignty Summit Canberra Conference convened by 1972 Aboriginal Tent Embassy. Four last living Leaders and Gamilaraay elected Sovereign Spokesman Michael Anderson.[13]

Some words[edit]

  • Giinagay (hello).
  • Yaam darruy ngiina gaduyaygu (It's good to meet you).[14]
  • Yaarri yarraang. (goodbye).[1]

Alternative names[edit]

  • Kombaingheri, Kombinegherry, Kumbangerai, Koombanggary, Koombanggherry, Koombainga
  • Coombangree, Coombyngura, Coombyngara, Coombargaree, Kombinegherry
  • Gumbainggar, Gunbainggar, Gumbaingar, Guinbainggiri
  • Coombagoree, Gumbanggar
  • Bellinger tribe, Bellingen tribe
  • Nimboy (a horde)
  • Woolgoolga (a horde)
  • Orara (name of a river).[5]

Notable Gumbaynggirr people[edit]


  1. ^ the word is said by Gumbaynggir restaurateur Clayton Donovan to be pronounced jasrnee