Chowilla Aborigines

Aborigines Past and Present

Aboriginal heritage has been traced back 12,000 years throguh the study of artefacts, some of which are still evident today as Ôcanoe treesÕ and remains of old campsites.  The word Chowilla  (or Tjowilla) is reported to mean "place of spirits or ghosts." Although another interpretation has been "good camping place." A large Aboriginal population with a rich and diverse culture lived in the area before Europeans came.The abundance and diversity of local plants and animals allowed them to have a semi-permanent lifestyle. However, none of these people are left. Conflict with the new settlers and loss of the traditional lands were part of the reason, but disease was the greatest cause of this tragedy. Smallpox worked its way down the the Murray with other diseases, such as influenza and measles. The area is rich in evidence of their occupation, although erosion, trampling and other changes to the land have damaged some sites.


More recently, other Aborigines have come to the district. Fortunately, although these people are from different tribes, they are able to identify some of the sites which were of importantance to the original people. There is still an opportunity to protect these sites and pay tribute to the original people who lived in the area for so long. Present day Aborigines also have a great deal to tell us about their own culture and help us to live more in harmony with the land. People wishing to enhance their understanding of Aboriginal Culture may like to visit the Aboriginal Culture Centre, the Jimmie James Trail (pamphlet available from Berri Tourist office)  and Bridge Mural in the nearby towns of Glossop and Berri.

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