Quandamooka Country.

The Quandamooka Nation, where I spent most of my formative years, and where my debut novel ‘Beneath the Mother Tree’ is set, consists of the waters and islands of central and southern Moreton Bay and the coastal land and streams between the Brisbane to Logan Rivers. The original inhabitants consisted of three clans – the Nunukul and Gorenpul of Minjerribah (Stradbroke Island) and the Ngugi of Mulgumpin (Moreton Island). The first recorded contact with outsiders occurred when Mathew Flinders stopped at Minjerribah for fresh water in 1802. He was shown by the Nunukal people where to find water, and then went on his way. However, by 1824, a military regiment with convicts had moved into Quandamooka and relations between the original inhabitants and the colonisers continued to deteriorate. The first Moreton Bay mission for Aborigines was formed on Bribie Island in 1877 but the mission was moved to Minjerribah by 1892. This meant Nunukul and Gorenpul Aborigines who had been transported to the Bribie mission, were then brought back to their island to be placed into another mission with a mixture of Ngugi clan, Pacific Islanders and any other mainland Aboriginals or dark-skinned person the government chose to send there. It was a very controlled life style with a Superintendent or Bully Man (as the locals called him, and still do to this day) who enforced the many rules. No one was allowed to leave the mission without the Superintendent’s written approval. This mission, labelled by the government as Myora, but known by the residents and locals as Moongalba (sitting down place), officially operated until 1942.
Because of the remnants of the mission, there continues to be a strong Aboriginal community on North Stradbroke Island, and Native Title for the Quandamooka Nation was finally recognised on the 4th July 2011 by the High Court of Australia.
I had Nunukal, Gorenpul and Ngugi mob in my life because the high school I went to was the only school for miles around, so all the islander mob attended the mainland school where friendships naturally occurred. I didn’t think twice about it, until, as a young adult, I moved away from this area, and every new place I lived, the same questions formed on my lips – ‘Where’s all the mob? How come there’s no mob here?’ It slowly dawned on me how fortunate I had been growing up where I did.
My debut novel, ‘Beneath the Mother Tree’, I realised at the end of the writing of the first draft, was my love song to the Quandamooka nation, a place very dear to my heart.
(Sources for this post include ‘Moongalba Sitting Down Place’ by Bernice Fisher, and ‘History Life and Times of Robert Anderson Gheebelum, Ngugi, Mulgumpin.’)