Brisbane Indigenous History
Before European settlement man discovered the area now known as Brisbane, two aboriginal tribes inhabited the area. Both spoke the Yaggera language, with the Jagera clan living south of the river, and the Turrba residing to the north.
They called the area 'Mian-jin', which means 'place shaped like a spike' and they established several campsites including Woolloongabba, Toowong, Bowen Hills, Newstead, Nundah, and Nudgee, and a network of pathways that allowed them access to different regions. In September 1824, the Surveyor-General John Oxley, remarked on the hunters he saw near the river at Toowong, describing them as ‘the strongest and best-made muscular men' he has seen.
The aboriginal tribes, believed to number around 5000, roamed a large area that encompassed pockets of rainforest, scrub and coastal lowlands featuring swamps, and lagoons. Certain foods were cultivated, such as the ‘kambi’, a long white shipworm, encouraged to infest sodden timber piled at the edge of creeks and rivers.
Colonial botanist Charles Frazer commented on the thinly wooded grassland north-west of Brisbane in 1829. This grassland developed over hundreds of years of Aboriginal ‘fire-stick’ management, involving periodic burnings, to encourage new growth and attract game.
Because the areas were rich in food resources, the tribes had time to relax, enjoying games and other social and spiritual activities. Regular corroborees were held at Toowong and West End until the 1860’s; the celebrations and ceremonies bringing together hundreds of people.
Gregory, Helen. (1996) The Brisbane River Story. Meanders through Time. Australian Marine Conservation Society.
Buchanan, Robyn. (2000) "In the Beginning... The Story of Brisbane" published in "This is our Brisbane", 4BH Radio, (now DMG Radio Australia).