Indigenous history and culture has played an important part in the development of Brisbane city and its suburbs.
Earliest historical records confirm the Brisbane area was well-inhabited by the Turrbal people before European settlement. In fact, they named the land where central Brisbane sits as Meanjin, or spike.
Surveyor General John Oxley noted, in 1824, a large population of Turrbal people along the present-day sites of the Wesley Hospital, Regatta Hotel and Coronation Drive due to the presence of water. This dense inhabitation no doubt encouraged European settlement of the area in 1825.
A snapshot of Turrbal history suggests the various pathways (Aboriginal tracks), in existence since the Dreamtime, formed the basis of road infrastructure around Brisbane today. Examples of these included Waterworks Rd and the Old Northern Rd. Waterworks Rd, for example, was built on a Turrbal pathway leading to Mt Coot-tha – a place of the honey-bee Dreaming. The Old Northern Rd pathway led to the triennial Bunya feast of the neighbouring tribe, the Wakka Wakka.
Today, Aboriginal culture is enshrined in the city’s historical art trails, exhibitions and place names.
As you travel through Brisbane, you will encounter suburbs bearing intriguing Aboriginal names. Among them are Indooroopilly (gully of running water), Bellbowrie (place of the flowering gums), Coorparoo (a ground dove), Enoggera (corroboree place), Yeerongpilly (rain coming), Wooloowin (fish), Nudgee (green frog), Woolloongabba (whirling water) and Wynnum (breadfruit tree), to name but a few.
One of the first indigenous organisations started in West End, originally known as Kurilpa, with Musgrave Park as one of the most well-known meeting grounds. The National Aboriginal Islander Day of Celebration (NAIDOC) is held in the park each year, as is the Greek Festival – Paniyiri.
Another important site is the Mt Coot-tha Aboriginal Art Trail where indigenous art is displayed in its natural setting, and you can see how it is used as a way of mapping the land and passing on cultural information. In addition, a significant number of organisations and historical groups are showcasing Aboriginal culture and its importance to Brisbane.