Welcome to Jinigudera country! We are in a very special area today – a truly ancient country.
The local indigenous tribe, the Jingudera, a part of the West Thalanyji people, and their predecessors, have lived in this region for at least the last thirty thousand years, and likely much longer. One of the oldest known pieces of jewellery in the world – an ornamental string of beads made of cone shell was found near Mandu Mandu, and has been dated at around 32,000 years old. (My own ancestors were most probably grunting at each other in caves at about the time the ancestors of the local tribe were fashioning jewellery to make them look hot!;-)
You respecting the natural environment, history and culture of the area you are today in is incredibly important to the local Aboriginal people and their ancestors – and they have a right to ask this of you as the Traditional Owners of this area. The ocean, coastline, ranges, springs, creeks, beaches and gorges form a major part of their ongoing spiritual life and wellbeing, so please remember this during your time at the Ningaloo.
As you are visiting this area today, you may want to consider that the indigenous Australian people developed one of the most sustainable civilisations the world has ever seen. Instead of having to continually expand, and develop new technologies for their civilisation to survive, their culture and civilisation fitted into the land around them and did this in such an effective way that little change was necessary for the tribes’ ongoing existence for tens and tens of thousands of years.
The Jinigudera people were coastal dwellers, hunter gatherers ranging from the East coast of the Exmouth Gulf through to Bulbali Point on the west coast of the Ningaloo. A range of archeologically significant sites, from burial grounds, caves and campsites, to middens and fish traps, are known throughout the area, that have enabled researchers to better understand the pre-history of the tribe and their predecessors.
And their history, since white man came to the region, is equally as interesting, and at times tragic. This area was NEVER taboo – though the Jinigudera people were always recognised as a quite distinct tribe from their neighbours. The very low numbers of indigenous continuing to live in this and surrounding areas is due to a combination of – white man’s disease, including measles, mumps, flu, and sexually transmitted diseases – blackbirding – when ships came to capture whole groups of Aborigines, and then shipped them to places such as Broome to work as slaves for the rest of their natural lives – and, as a further likely blot of white Australia’s history, possible slaughter of tribes-people at various times over the last four hundred years. One of the most fascinating stories from the area is the Bark Stefano wreck from the 1800’s. Shipwreck survivors, after many dying of thirst and lack of food, and becoming cannibals, travelled with the local tribes over a number of months before being rescued off Bundegi Beach by one of the ancestors of a famous politician from this area, Wilson “Iron Bar” Tuckey.
If you are interested in finding out more about the indigenous history, we can put you in touch with one of the leaders of the local people, Ann Preest. Ann has worked tirelessly over the last two decades to form the North West Cape Exmouth Aboriginal Corporation. If she has time, she will take you out into the area and tell you the stories of the Jinigudera peoples. Whilst its not cheap, it does make for a truly different experience on your holiday that has touched past participants deeply.