National Reconciliation Week 2021 - 27 May - 3 June


Reconciliation Australia’s theme for 2021, More than a word. Reconciliation takes action, urges the reconciliation movement towards braver and more impactful action. 

On the Reconciliation Australia website it states - We all have a role to play when it comes to reconciliation, and in playing our part we collectively build relationships and communities that value Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, histories, cultures, and futures.

Today descendants of the Gadubanud continue to live in Apollo Bay, the Otways and surrounds and it is here where we learn our most valuable information and we are grateful to them for sharing their cultural stories, craft and history.

With this in mind, we can share here some of what we know of the history of the Otway region, and add our voice to calls for reconciliation and justice.

Here is a little bit of what we have learnt: - 

The Gadubanud (Ktabanut) or King Parrot people have occupied the rainforest, estuaries, grass and wetlands, and coastline of The Otways for many thousands of years. Local estuaries such as the Barwon and Gellibrand rivers provided natural boundaries with other tribes. The Gadubanud maintained complex ties with other aboriginal groups and had close linguistic and familiar connections with their northern neighbour the Guidjan people of the Lake Colac area. 

Clans within the Gadubanud tribe are: Bangura gundidj, Guringid gundidj, Ngalla gundidj - location Cape Otway, Ngarowurd Gundidj - location north of Moonlight Head and the Yan Yan Gurt - location east head of the Barwon river.

Archaeological and food source studies suggest the Gadubanud population was in the 100s as opposed to some historical records stating only 8-10 people. Middens found around the Otways suggest that Gadubanud had a varied diet that ranged from fish and shellfish to seals, eels and ducks. Animal protein came from native rats, snakes, lizards, frogs, birds and possums. 

An axe-stone quarry in the central Otways and 2 sandstone boulders showing over 58 grinding groves of varying depth on the boulder’s flat surfaces, indicating that thousands of axes would have been ground on these rocks. In addition a kangaroo track symbol in this area provides further knowledge that it was not only along the coastal areas where indigenous people lived in the Otways.

Massacres and violent clashes by white settlers on indigenous tribes took place all over Australia, including the Otways. Notably the massacres affecting the Gadubanud were at Cape Paton and Aire River. A sorrowful and shameful time in the history of the Otways.

 To read more from a Gadubanud traditional owner perspective, check out our blog post Katabanut Yarkeen - Coastal Forest Dreaming.

The Otway Districts Historical Society acknowledge the traditional custodians of Gadubanud Country, Elders past and present. We respectfully acknowledge that we work and live on the lands of the Gadubanud nation.

 If you have something to add or a comment to make, please do so below.