(lamingtonnationalpark.net.au is under new management, this article previously appeared on the old website and was not written by the new site owners.)
Prior to european settlement, the Lamington region had been inhabited by Aboriginal people of the Yugambeh language for thousands of years. The Yugambeh language group inhabited the Gold Coast and hinterland, roughly between the Logan and Tweed rivers. This people group lived as distinct family tribes in various regions, although interaction between them was well established. The family tribes that lived closest to Lamington National Park are the Birinburra, Kombumerri, Wangerriburra and Migunberri people.
The Yugambeh people were well established with their environment. They understood seasons, plants and animals and used these to provide a comfortable lifestyle. Whereas early European farming methods required toil from dawn to dusk in order to achieve a small return (European crops where not suited to early Australian environments), the Yugambeh people were able to feed a large group with just a few hours walk a day. Trading of food was well established between Aboriginal groups and early Europeans relied on trading with the Aborigines to survive.
The Yugambeh people monitored plant and animal resources to ensure that food gathering was both efficient and sustainable. They gathered nuts, honey and other plant material, perhaps even planting many of the nut trees that grow today. Using an assortment of weaponry, they hunted a wide variety of species. Nets were used to catch fish, flighted birds, land fowl along with land animals to the size of a kangaroo. Dingoes were trained to aid in the hunting of wallabies and kangaroos.
Social gatherings such as corroborees were well attended, attracting visitors from as far as Grafton, Tenterfield and Maryborough. These corroborees were held for a variety of reasons, for example, dances, initiations, feasts, fights and tournaments. Ornate body decorations were often worn to corroborees and included feathers, paints, leaves, flowers, animal skins and tails. Although these gatherings could be highly ritual occasions, there was always one or two men “funny men” amongst the dancers that would provide everyone with entertainment from their antics (similar to the modern day circus clown).
After Europeans settlement, the lifestyle of the Yugambeh people was gradually eroded. Various attacks of native lifestyle by convicts, free landholders, Government acts and other European intervention has meant that today much of the previous way of life of the Yugambeh is now forgotten. However, many are still active in attempted to preserve what still remains, such as the Yugambeh language, and ensuring it is passed on to future generations.