NEW!!! Wallumetta newsletters available here
At the outset we must recognise that Aboriginal culture was exclusively oral and the languages had never been written down in any form before the arrival of Europeans. So, when European settlers started writing aboriginal words, a variety of spellings were used and these may have varied according to both the speaker’s enunciation and the perception of the listener.
This is why the clan name of our local Aborigines is written in a variety of ways including, most commonly, “Wallumedegal”, Wallumattagul” and Wallumetta-gal”, the latter being the spelling used for our newsletter. There is no definitively correct spelling for these or any other words. The Wallumedegal were part of the regional grouping, speaking related dialects, known as Dharug.
Wallumedegal is our starting point, and the word comes in three parts:
In his journal in 1790, Lieutenant Philip Gidley King wrote: The females... are distinguished by the word “leon” added to the name that distinguishes the Man – it is imagined that the word “Gal” signifies tribe and the word preceding it is the word of distinction – perhaps it is the place where the tribe resides.
So the name Wallumedegal means “Snapper-fish place people”... and it is tautological to say (as many do) “Wallumedegal people”. Our Society’s base is in their territory, so our newsletter name Wallumetta is appropriate, meaning simply “Place of snapper fish”.
Another significant name is “Waratah” or “Warada” (as it is spelt for the name of a loop track in the Field of Mars Reserve). This Dharug word applies to the species of plant identified by the scientific name Telopea speciosissima. The track was so named because it passed by the only two endemic waratahs in the reserve. Sadly, over ten years ago some mountain bike riders did considerable damage to part of the bushland in constructing an illegal track and the waratah there has not been seen since, so it is possible that only one survives.
Moocooboola or Moocooboolah means “Waters meet”. It refers to the Hunters Hill / Woolwich peninsula where the Lane Cove River and Parramatta River meet. The name is best known for Hunters Hill’s Moocooboola festival, and has had other uses including the name of the luxury tourist coach operated by the former North & Western Bus Lines (originally Hunters Hill Bus Co.) The official Scout name for our district is Moocooboolah, as shown on this badge:
Bennelong is the name of our federal government electorate. It honours the famous Wangal Aborigine, Woollarawarre Bennelong. He came from the Manly area. After associating with Governor Phillip and travelling to England where he remained for three years, Woollarawarre Bennelong became homesick, returned to Sydney, and settled on the land occupied by farmer and brewer James Squire near Kissing Point. Reportedly, Bennelong returned to living a traditional Aboriginal, rather than European, lifestyle and presumably associated with Wallumedegal during this phase of his life. Bennelong died at Kissing Point on 3 January 1813 and was buried there with his last wife, Boorong. According to the Australian Museum, Bennelong was a courageous, intelligent, vain and quick-tempered man but good with children and something of a comedian.
Acknowledgement: Much information is from “Wallumedegal – an Aboriginal History of Ryde” by Keith Vincent Smith, published by City of Ryde Council, 2005.
(This book is at City of Ryde Council libraries; there is also a copy at Field of Mars Visitor Centre.)
The Society has been active in local conservation issues since 1966 and is well networked with the broader conservation movement across NSW.
The Society's Constitution states its Aims and Objectives as:
a. The education of the members and the community, particularly in the local area, in nature conservation and protection of the environment;
b. To promote ecologically sustainable land use and development;
c. To promote nature conservation including an adequate system of national parks, wilderness areas, nature reserves, wildlife refuges and corridors and urban bushland reserves; adequate protection measures for native wildlife;
d. Achieving satisfactory measures to safeguard the environment from all forms of pollution to ensure clean air, clean water and a healthy environment;
e. To work for the permanent retention and conservation of all natural areas in the local district and an increase in the area set aside for nature conservation and
f. To undertake the management of the Field of Mars Reserve with Ryde City Council as a major conservation project
We have a regular newsletter Wallumetta which is issued six times a year which attempts to update members on both local environmental issues and issues of wider impact. Our volunteer members keep the Visitors Centre open each weekend. Please contact us if you have concerns about threats to our local natural areas and the precious native fauna which depend on our sensitive bushland areas and waterways.
In the mid 1960s, with an increasing amount of waste needing disposal, Ryde Council looked to an expansion of the small tip in the Field of Mars Reserve. Council proposed to pipe Buffalo and Stranger's Creeks to facilitate a landfill area to a depth of up to 15m feet which could then be re-developed into playing fields. Local residents united to form the Anti-tip Action Group and lobbied to reverse Council's plans for a tip at the Field of Mars. The tip was moved to Porter's Creek which to this day still requires substantial funds to control the environmental damage arising from past use as a tipsite. With the Field of Mars saved the Society was established in January 1966.
In September 1966, Ryde Council advised the Society that it agreed to their proposal to development of the Field of Mars Reserve as a flora and fauna sanctuary. Hard work over following decades has seen restoration of old degraded areas of the Field of Mars and protection of the area as a Wildlife Refuge. A Visitors Centre was built and then the Environmental Education Centre which is visited by about 10,000 students each year.
Owing to restrictions due to COVID-19, ALL EVENTS HAVE BEEN INDEFINITELY POSTPONED OR CANCELLED... including:
our Annual General Meeting (AGM) and
Bird Walks with Cathy Goswell
However, the reserve itself is still open for the time being. So come along, keep your social distance, and have a pleasant walk.
Staffing of the Visitor Centre on weekends may be considered a non-essential activity, therefore will be closed indefinitely.
*Rug hand-knitted and kindly donated to RHHFFPS by the Holy Spirit Yarnknit Group of North Ryde.