Byron Bay

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Byron Bay Aboriginal Culture & Heritage

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It was a place of plenty, this point of land the Aboriginal people called Walgun, which means The Shoulder. It gave views, sheltered and sandy beaches, seafood, wildlife, rainforest fruits, and always clean spring water.

Aboriginal people have lived and visited the area for at least 22,000 years, for Walgun was also a place for many Dreamtime stories.

About 6,000 years ago, sea levels rose and drowned eight kilometres of land around Cape Byron, leaving it exposed as a coastal promontory and submerging many ancient Aboriginal sites.

Many coastal sites have also been lost to the ravages of sand-mining and development. Burial sites, middens, scarred trees, and ceremonial Bora rings have all been recorded. In Cape's Palm Valley, the surviving midden and open camp site is over 1,000 years old - probably the only and definitely the oldest of its type in the region. The sites which remain are testament to a vibrant culture and an abundant environment.

The NSW north coast is the traditional territory of the Bundjalung people. Two sub-groups (or clans) included the Byron Bay area in their territory. The Arakwal were in the south; the Minjunbal had the north. It is estimated that 200 years ago, about 500 Aboriginals lived here.

Courtesy Cape Byron Headland Reserve

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