Port Macquarie-Hastings Council respects the First Peoples – the Birpai – who are the traditional custodians of the lands of the Hastings region. We also acknowledge and respect other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who call our region home.
Information on the Birpai peoples is fragmentary and at this point, there is no definitive work on their history or culture. The following links are to websites containing information on the Birpai or to scans of articles or book sections that the library has collected.
N.B. There are a number of variant spellings of the name Birpai. References also appear in the literature to Biripi, Birripai, Bripi, Biripai, Birrbay etc.
Totems of the Birpai
The Birpai people are the traditional custodians of our local country. The country was created during The Dreaming when the Ancestral Beings wandered, forming the rivers, mountains, plants, animals and other natural features. The Dreaming is a powerful life force that connects Aboriginal people to the land and to a complex system of spiritual beliefs and cultural practices.
Totems classify all things including plants, animals, birds and people. They provide a link between the natural world and kinship relationships with spiritual beliefs and personal responsibilities.
The shark, eagle, kangaroo, bass, stingray, porpoise and crab are examples of Birpai totems.
Aboriginal Stories of the Mid-North Coast
Uncle Bill O’Brien mixes the Birpai language with English to welcome you to his country, Birpai Country. In doing so, Uncle Bill asks you to respect the ocean, land, rivers and other natural delights as this respect ensures the health of our country and its people. Enjoy the words of Uncle Bill and engage with his desire to ensure the cultural continuation of Birpai people.
From the Legendary Pacific Coast website.
Listening, Learning and Writing the Next Chapter
Birpai Yarns is a joint story telling project between schools and community. Sharing the history of our elders whilst practicing a variety of literacy skills.
Documents & resources
The documents below are an attempt to collect and present the available published literature on the Birpai people. They need to be read in the historical context of the times in which they were written and therefore some do not reflect contemporary cultural values and sensitivities.
LANGUAGE & CULTURE
- A Birpai word list– ‘The Australian Race: No. 186-Port Macquarie’
- Birpai Word List– ‘The land of the Ulitarra’ by J.S.Ryan
- A handbook of Aboriginal languages of New South Wales– Ch. 6 Hunter – Hastings Languages
- Some Aboriginal Place Names on the Mid-North Coast of New South Wales– J.S.Ryan 1963-4
- About Native Language– Some words and their meanings (source unknown)
- The Birripai of the Manning: an Aboriginal Studies Unit for Secondary Schools– (1991)
- Two fish traps located on the mid-north coast of New South Wales– Valerie Campbell (1978)
- Social divisions of the Birripai– W. J. Enright (1932)
- Indigenous Australians using Trees and Timber– Some Timber Stories of the Hastings by Elaine van Kempen (2003)
- Wauchope High School Aboriginal Writings– General Skills course (1987) The work of 18 students
- Notes on the Aborigines of the North Coast of N.S.W. – (1940) by W.J. Enright
- Pacific Highway Upgrade-Moorland to Herons Creek EIS: Cultural heritage Assessment– (2004)
- ‘The Biripi – A History since 1827’– ‘Town and Country’: a history of the Manning Valley (Solling,2014)
- Maps of Aboriginal boundaries – North Coast extract – Tindale 1974
- North Coast Women: a history to 1939– Baiba Berzins (1996)
- Aboriginal Heritage of the North Coast – a discussion paper– NSW Dept of Planning. 1989
- Baal Belbora: the end of the dancing– Geoffrey Blomfield (1986)
- The Kattang (Kutthung) or Worimi: an Aboriginal Tribe – W.J. Enright Manking March 1932
- The Aborigines at Port Macquarie– Asiatic Journal and Monthly Miscellany Vol. 26 1838 pp224-225
- Her Story: searching for the Lost Women of the Two Rivers– The First Women of the Two Rivers (Matthews 2005)
- Ngaku and Ngamba : the early Hastings residents– Express May 22, 1985
- Aboriginal references in the book ”A town called Port’– John Moyes
- ‘Early local Aborigines’ notes from Wauchope District Historical Society
- Muloobinbah: the contribution of Aboriginal people to the resources of the Hunter Region – John Heath (1998)
- History preserved in photographic collection(Thomas Dick) Port Macquarie News 23 March 1981
- Middle Brother: the Aboriginal connection by Jennie Kerr(see annotations by Les Ridgeway)
- Aborigines were tough on women– Port Macquarie News 29 January 1979
- Timeline of Aboriginal people around Wauchope– source: Hastings District Historical Society
- Recollections of Some Australian Blacks – (1844)
- Hunter-Hastings languages
HEALTH & WELFARE
Two ways Together: Regional Report – North Coast (2006)
This report gathers data about Aboriginal people and the government services provided to them in the North Coast region of NSW.
- Uncle Bill O’Brien – Birpai elder
- About Bill – Lifestyle Magazine May 2010
- The Up River murders– Port Macquarie News June 29, 1981
- Cricketers of yore– Port Macquarie news September 17, 1979
- By gum she’s right (fish trap at Point Plomer) – Port Macquarie News March 18, 1979
- Aborigines’ Week puts focus on sacred sites– Port Macquarie News July 8, 1981
- “Bunyah Jimmy” King of the Hastings River – Hastings gazette 1983
- Those Blacks– Port Macquarie News February 1892
- Thomas Dick– Port Macquarie News March 23, 1981
- Three Birroguns reflected in Aboriginal dreamtime– Port Macquarie News January 19, 1998
- The Three Brothers Mountains – Heritage report
- The Brothers Three…behind the names – Camden Haven Courier 23.12.1981
- Map of the Hastings region Aboriginal nations – by J.H. Watson 1984
- Charlie “King Murri”– (no source)
- Blackfellow – good spirit of the Hastings River – Hastings Gazette 1983
- Land handover pleases Mayor (Christmas Bells Plain) Camden Haven Courier 8 December 1999