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Jaara Jaara

Aboriginal Culture

Before European settlement this region was known as Jaara Jaara country. It was inhabited by the Jaara Jaara people who belonged to and formed a part of these lands. The tribe consisted of sixteen clans, each speaking different dialects of the Dja Dja Wurrung language.


A complex system of 'totemism' is part of the Aboriginal lore that binds the people to the land, the individual to the tribe, the person to their own gender roles within the tribe and even to their future partner. Eagles (Bunjil), crows (waa) and bats are totemic animals that may never be killed or eaten by Jaara Jaara people. These animals are clan totems and form the basis of moiety arrangements designed to prevent inbreeding (so a member of the Crow moiety did not marry a Crow).

Totemism also created balance for all animals, simply because a single species could not be eaten by every member of the tribe and each person's hunting regime would vary so as to not over-hunt a single species. Wedge-tailed eagles, crows and several species of bat still inhabit the Parks and Forests around Bendigo.

Hunting and Gathering

Hunting for large game was the man's role in providing for his family. Women (Larook) focused on gathering plant foods and smaller animals. The children learnt to track  animals [echidnas, lizards and possums (bun-nar)] from a young age (2-3) along with where to find, collect and prepare plants that have edible parts [yam daisy (murnong), wattle seeds and native cherry]. These and other plant and animal food sources can be found throughout the Bendigo bushland.

Other Traditional Uses of Bush Resources

• Greybox (boolerdj) - honey (chee-noyne), coolamons (bark dish), shields, firewood, shelter.

• Cherry Ballart (pol-ite) or Native Cherry (known to Aboriginal kids as - Lolly Tree) - edible berries (at certain time of year).

• Ironbark - firewood


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