Kombumerri Traditional Custodian Contributor: Justine Dillon

This resource is related to the following Learning Area –

And responds to the following Enquiry Question –

Q31.How did natural disasters in the past affect the Kombumerri people?

Resource transcript –

I know that there was a massive flood plain is one thing I’ve discussed with the archaeologists because we found midden sites so far inland and we’re confused. Don’t know if these have been planted because that’s what the government accuse us of half the time. And we’re like, no, there’s evidence that the flood plain when it flooded come right up and we found evidence inland at Pimpama, up at Coombabah near the old milk factory, if people know that area. Like, Pine Ridge Road then, if you know that area, significant amount away from the ocean. That’s just… that was an example I give to people when they come through. We know the water come up to here, we know that for sure. It could have went further cos that leads into swamp and lake lands behind that. Yeah, shell middens found inland and people… you know, it’s surprising and they ask why… why are these here and, well, our people were nomadic in a way around our own area. We knew when weather events were coming and when to move on from certain sites. So, if they’re along the Coombabah creek fishing for crab and mullet and flathead they knew if the tide starts coming in quick, the sky turns, move away from the swampy area uphill somewhere and get off the ground. I was talking to her about… we worked recently at Numinbah Valley and we’d been referred to as Birinburra people out there, was the mountain people. When you go through that valley… I asked it, “Does this valley flood?” And she said, “No, it’s all above sea level.” I said, so, what are the chances cos I can’t see our mob running up mountains quick to get away from a big flood coming in. Wouldn’t they have resided at the back of this valley behind the coast, where it was above sea level and there’s an abundance of flora and fauna here, there’s a bora ring that we found in the area and it also links to all of our other dreaming stories and the cave systems where our Elders were buried standing up? So, I’m just going there’s so much significance there and when we were there, there was something drawing me to that rock wall where the caves were and we’ve actually seen a figure standing up on the… watching us. And I said, when I told them that’s where our Elders were buried standing up in caves, we come around the corner, pulled over and I said to the archaeologist… I made her get out of the car and I’m like, “Look at the man standing up there watching us!” She said, “Yeah, I can see him.” She goes, “I wish I had my binoculars.” I said, “He’s been standing up there for the last three days I’ve been working out here, keeping an eye on us.” And then she said, “Yeah, well, there’s legends here that if you try and climb that mountain, your Elders will send a rockslide down on you, so, be careful around here.” And I’m like, “Oh, there’s just something drawing me to that mountain though, I want to climb it, I want to go up there.” And she’s like, “Yeah, well, you need to talk to your Elders more about permissions of that.” And I found out to go up there, I need to go up around the back way, Lamington, go up to Turtle rock way to access that area, culturally and appropriately. So, I’m going to try it out and see what the call is but, yeah. She also said with the water coming in, it went right out. So, when we did our Gold Coast Native Title claim in ’97 or something that was part of the reason our claim failed because the family claimed too far out to the ocean because they couldn’t prove that we… it’s the ocean, how can you prove occupation out there? But, it’s because of those flood plains and everything that went out that we know our people fished right out and right back in and that we worked within the ecosystem that was changing around us. So, um, yeah… The floods are the main ones, the big storms… my family, weeks out, still, when there’s big storms, they panic, they go into panic mode first and then I think it’s more the damage that they have to clean up and sustaining their resources after those big events. I can’t really think of anything else of natural disasters that I know of personally, just the flood plain situation that I talked with the Archeaos, but that’s all, yeah.