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Wonnarua Nation

The Wonnarua people are the traditional land owners of the Singleton area and their lands extend throughout the Hunter Valley and have occupied the Upper Hunter for at least 30,000 years, with traditional knowledge holding that occupation extends back to the early stages of the Dreaming.

In the Wonnarua dreamtime the Hunter Valley was created by the great spirit, Baime (Byamee). Before Baime there was nothing, everything was sleeping. Baime awoke and created everything, the mountains, plains, rivers and every living thing. The Wonnarua were part of the land.

As James Miller explains in his book Koori a Will to Win, “The land held the key to life’s secrets. Man was given the knowledge to read the land and for every rock, tree and creek he found an explanation for existence. He did not own the land, the land owned him.”

The spirit of Baime is depicted on a cave overlooking the Valley at Milbrodale painted more than 3000 years ago. Baime has his arms stretched open protecting the Valley.

Baime also created Kawal (Ka-wal), to watch over the Wonnarua people. The spirit of Kawal is embodied in the wedge tailed eagle, found throughout the Hunter Valley. When the Wonnarua see the wedge tailed eagle, they know Kawal is looking over them, protecting them.

The recorded history of the Wonnarua begins in the early nineteenth century when the Europeans settled. Ironically, it is directly above Baime cave where Europeans first viewed the Upper Hunter, led from Sydney by a tracker from the Wonnarua tribe.

About the Wonnarua, by James Miller contains more information about the Wonnarua.