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Floating wurlies
Title : Floating wurlies Floating wurlies
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Creator : Kelly, Alex C., 1811-1877, artist
Source : B 29487
Date of creation : ca. 1845
Format : Artwork
Contributor : State Library catalogue
Catalogue record
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Description :

Floating wurlies on the Murray River, drawn on coloured card.

Ngarrindjeri is an Aboriginal nation of 18 language groups who occupied, and still inhabit, the Lower Murray, Coorong and Lakes area of South Australia.

Their lands and waters extended 30km up the Murray from Lake Alexandrina, the length of the Coorong and the coastal area to Encounter Bay. Today this Aboriginal group is still very strong, with a large community of people based in the Lower Murray and Coorong area.

The State Library has a broad range of resources relating to Ngarrindjeri people including books, photographs, oral history, music, language resources, video and archival records.

Dr Alexander Kelly became a partner in Tintara Vineyard Company in 1862. He sold Trinity vineyard and began planting vines for Tintara at Willunga in 1863. Tintara went into voluntary liquidation in the 1870s. Dr Kelly retired in 1876 and died the following year.

Mary Thomas, the daughter of early pioneers and printing press operators, Robert and Mary Thomas, referred to wurlies, in her diary (PRG 1160/6, p. 42);

Mar. 31, 1846.   ....(near the Port) Some few natives have been paying us a visit lately. Cow-eeta (?) was one who seemed to be a civil, quiet man. Another was a woman named Coonartoo. Mr. Wilkinson stayed some time in our house. We made an arrangement to go see the blacks in the evening. At the time appointed Mr. Wilkinson left home with Mrs. Skipper and my sister Helen, preceded by Mr. Skipper, Mrs. Wilkinson, and myself. We all walked down to their wurlies, which are erected at a place some distance from the town. On arriving at this spot we could not help admiring the splendour and wildness of the scene, as we stood surrounded by, I should think, four or five hundred natives and among large trees of which some [were] half hidden by the darkness, while others were partly illuminated by the native fires and, by throwing out their broad shadows, appeared in bold relief. The fires, by which we were guided to their place, were numerous and appeared to be made in circles to some degree of uniformity. Instead of having them crowded together they left good spaces between each. After visiting the blacks belonging to two or three different tribes, we went to another part of the ground, where we found a large number of natives assembled and making preparations for a corroboree, which we waited to see. The result was very gratifying. A great number of blacks ranged themselves with scrupulous regularity in a sitting position so as to face the dancers. These consisted of the Moorundee tribe and their corroboree was intended to represent the stealing of a wife from another tribe. The whole scene was well acted, and what especially delighted me was that they kept such true time with foot and voice. Although I have often heard the corroboree I never discovered anything in the shape of a song so nearly resembling vocal music as that we were favoured with. I should think that there were about 150 of the Moorundee tribe dancing, and the number of spectators was afterwards swelled by several natives from Encounter Bay who not in general being on friendly terms with those from Moorundee, kept their spears in their hands instead of laying them down. Besides these we saw some from Kapunda.

Related names :

Aboriginal Australians, Dwellings, Murray River (N.S.W.-S. Aust.)

Narrinyeri (Australian people)

Kelly, Alex C., 1811-1877

Coverage year : 1845
Period : 1836-1851
Place : Murray River, South Australia
Region : Riverland and Murraylands
Further reading :

Berndt, Ronald M. and Berndt, Catherine H. with Stanton, John E.,A world that was: the Yaraldi of the Murray River and the lakes, South Australia, Vancouver: UBC Press, 1993

Kartinyeri, Doreen, Ngarrindjeri Nation: Genealogies of Ngarrindjeri Families, 2006

The native tribes of South Australia, with an introductory chapter by J.D. Woods, 1997, first published 1879

The Ngarrindjeri people: Aboriginal people of the River Murray, Lakes and Coorong, 1990, Education Department of South Australia (an Aboriginal studies course for secondary students in years 8-10)

Internet links :

State Library of South Australia factsheets online Ngarrindjeri people

Australian dictionary of biography online edition Kelly, Alexander Charles (1811 - 1877)

SA Memory Foundation of South Australia 1800-1851 Diary of Mary Thomas

SA Memory Foundation of South Australia 1800-1851 Kelly, Alexander

Ngarrindjeri Wikipedia

Museum of South Australia, Ngurunderi



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