Our History

According to the Wonnarua dreamtime the Hunter Valley was created by the great spirit, Baime (Byamee). Before Baime there was nothing, everything was sleeping. Baime awoke and created everything, the mountains, plains, rivers and every living thing.

The Wonnarua were part of the land. Renowned historian and Wonnarua descendant, James Miller explains in his book Koori a Will to Win:

“The land held the key to life’s secrets. Man was given the knowledge to read the land and for every rock, tree and creek he found an explanation for existence. He did not own the land, the land owned him.”
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The spirit of Baime is depicted on a cave overlooking the Valley at Milbrodale painted more than 3000 years ago. Baime has his arms stretched open protecting the Valley.

Baime also created Kawal (Ka-wal), to watch over the Wonnarua people. The spirit of Kawal is embodied in the wedge tailed eagle, found throughout the Hunter Valley.

When the Wonnarua see the wedge tailed eagle, they know Kawal is looking over them, protecting them.

The recorded history of the Wonnarua begins in the early nineteenth century when the Europeans settled.

Ironically, it is directly above Baime cave where Europeans first viewed the Upper Hunter, led from Sydney by a tracker from the Wonnarua tribe.

James’ book, Koori a Will to Win, is a compelling historical account of 200 years of his family and the tribal history of the Wonnarua people. Currently a map of the Wonnarua Nation is being developed based on historical oral and written records. Once the map is finalised it will be available on this website.
More historical information of the Wonnarua will also be regularly added to this website, so that the Wonnarua story can be shared with and known by everyone. “About the Wonnarua”, by James Miller contains more information about the Wonnarua. To read “About the Wonnarua” open the PDF.

National Museum Videos on Wonnarua History

The slideshow below shows the videos on Wonnarua Culture produced by the National Museum. It is in 3 seperate parts, which can be accessed by pressing the arrow keys on the slideshow.