Gumbaynggirr Dreaming Story for Nyambaga – How Nambucca Heads got its name

Uncle Micklo Jarrett overlooking the bend in the river from Bellwood Park.


AS News Of The Area sat with Gumbaynggirr elder Uncle Micklo Jarrett having a yarn about NAIDOC Week and the importance of the week in the national calendar, Uncle Micklo exclaimed, “Let’s put the story about how Nambucca got it’s name into the paper for NAIDOC Week.

“I’d like to share it for those that don’t know it.”

With NAIDOC Week upon us, running from 4-11 July, there are celebrations across the country.

This year’s theme is Heal Country, or Darrunda Wajaarr in Gumbaynggirr.

Some celebrations have been interrupted with the latest Covid-19 restrictions, but the significance of the week is still being acknowledged and celebrated.

Uncle Micklo’s suggestion of sharing the Nyambaga dreaming, a story connected to this country and community, explains how Nambucca Heads got its name.

“The word for the town Nambucca Heads is derived from the Gumbaynggirr word Nyambaga.

“On the other side of the Nambucca River were people called Ngambaa.

“And the word for knee in Gumbaynggirr is called baga baga.

“So combine the people from the south of the river, and knee, it became Nyambaga.

“Nyambaga is now known as Nambucca.

“Back in the dreaming, in the creation time, on the south side of the river the Ngambaa people lived and they were “giants.

“The Gumbaynggir people in the south had a relationship with these guys and knew them really well.

“But people from the north came down and saw the giant Ngambaa man, and got scared.

“So they speared this giant Ngambaa man, and when he fell his body made an imprint all over the land.

“But his baga baga, his knee, made a bend in the river and that’s where that word for knee came from.

“Baga Baga is also the name of the Nambucca Heads clan, the baga baga clan.

“Nyambaga is to do with the people from the south called Ngambaa and the Gumbaynggirr word meaning baga baga.”



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