Book Review The journey cycles of Boonwurrung

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Caroline Briggs' book The Journey Cycles of Boonwurrung: Stories with the Boonwurrung Language (Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages, 2008) tells the development and ancient stories of the Boonwurrung Indigenous community. . It's part of being an elder. In this book, she explains the origins of Boonwurung, part of a larger community called Krin Nation. The country included other tribes such as the Wathaurong, Taungurung, and Woiwurrung, and two clans of the Woiwurrung community, Worundjeri Weelam and Wurundjeri Weelam, bordered the Boonwurrung community (Yeates et al., 2009). The Boonwurrung people consisted of six clans. Their land covered the coast from Wilson Promontory to Werribee River East. The Boonwurrung language was referred to that name by Stewart in 1836 and 21837 by Wedge and Langhorne. The name is derived from the word boon meaning ‘no’ and wurrung which referred to ‘lips.'

Other tribes of the Kulin Nation were required to speak the Boonwurrung language; this action illustrates the basis of the spiritual life of the Boonwurrung People. The area which they lived had natural resources known as Bayside, Nairm marry , which offered the clan with food and manufacturing(Keatley et al., 2013).This region was significant to the clan and enriched with natural resources. The other areas such as the Bayside and the surrounding had specific zones, such as, lacustrine, riverine, and mountainous. Ease of access to fresh water and natural springs played a key role in their patterns of settlement. Bottle brush’s nectar was fermented to make a particular type of alcoholic drink, and muyang, a unique plant which was used for medicinal purposes. The seasons in the clan were observed and tracked using the blooming of plants (Benson et al., 1997). The Boonwurrung community the biik region which is now part of the larger Melbourne community, but they also allowed trade with other part of Kulin nation. They were instances of war among the Kulin Nations many years ago, the animals were subjected to death and not eaten. After that, they adopted the laws of Bundjil, which their visitors needed to adhere too.

One of my reaction after critically reading and analyzing the book is that I learned that the Boonwuurung are the indigenous people of Australia, as it is known currently and they mainly occupied the South-Central Victoria Australia. They were the original inhabitants before the British came to displace them. I also found out that this community is a coastal community since most of their territory covered the coastal area. The community had clans, and they practiced fishing. Moreover the initial contact the indigenous community made with the European Lieutenant Murray and his crew (Clark et al., 2000).Also, some of the dialect used in the modern Australian English was adopted from this language.

One of the greatest enemies the Boonwurrung community made were the people from eastern Gunai. I found out that these people are one of the key reasons that resulted in a significant decrease of the Boonwurrrung community (Arts, 2014).Regarding marriage structure, the community had two moieties, Wang the raven and Bunjil the eagle hawk. I learned that the community was well organized and protected its territory. Furthermore, it had a spiritual basis and had laws which were to be adhered to by every member of the community. I also found ou that the main activity before European encroachment was hunting and gathering (Reynolds, 2006).Boonwurrung people had simple weapons which they used to hunt for birds and animals, mainly done by men. They cooked food at night and left some fire at night to provide warmth and security; this behavior shows how the community was they were creative. In the general Australian region the Boonwurrung are depicted as being nomadic since they always searched for food and water.

To conclude, I would strongly recommend Caroline’s book to any individual who needs to learn about the Boonwurrungs community in an in-depth manner.


Arts, B., 2014. Boonwurrung information.

Benson, J.S., and Redpath, P., 1997. The Nature of Pre-European Native Vegetation in South-eastern Australia: A Critique of Ryan, DG, Ryan JR and Starr, BJ (1995), The Australian Landscape: Observations of Explorers and Early Settlers. Royal Botanic Gardens, National Herbarium of New South Wales.

Clark, I.D., and Wesson, S., 2000. A historical atlas of the Aborigines of eastern Victoria and far south-eastern New South Wales, Monash Publications in Geography and Environmental Science no. 53.

Keatley, M.R., Chambers, L.E. and Phillips, R., 2013. Australia and New Zealand. In Phenology: An Integrative Environmental Science (pp. 23-52). Springer Netherlands.

Reynolds, H., 2006. The other side of the frontier: Aboriginal resistance to the European invasion of Australia. UNSW Press.

Yeates, K.E., Cass, A., Sequist, T.D., McDonald, S.P., Jardine, M.J., Trpeski, L. and Ayanian, J.Z., 2009. Indigenous people in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States are less likely to receive renal transplantation. Kidney International, 76(6), pp.659-664.

April 19, 2023

Sociology Culture



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