Destination Daintree

KUKU YALANJI ABORIGINAL PEOPLE OF THE DAINTREE

 

‘Welcome to Kuku Yalanji country. The area you are travelling through has great spiritual and cultural significance to our people’

(The above statement has been specifically been approved by local elders and was compiled by Mossman Gorge people for the Wet Tropics Management Authority)

 

Altogether, there are 18 Rainforest Aboriginal tribal groups in the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area.

In this area, the Traditional Owners are the Eastern Kuku Yalanji Aboriginal people. Their country extends from near Cooktown to Port Douglas. For the Eastern Kuku Yalanji people many natural features of the landscape have spiritual significance including Wundu (Thornton Peak), Manjal Dimbi (Mount Demi), Wurrmbu (The Bluff) and Kulki (Cape Tribulation). 

A rich array of plants and animals provided reliable food for the Eastern Kuku Yalanji people as they travelled seasonally throughout the area. The coastal lowlands were particularly productive and could sustain a relatively large population. 

Understanding the weather cycles and the combination of vegetation types allows the Eastern Kuku Yalanji people to find a variety of food throughout the year—when jilngan (mat grass) is in flower, it is time to collect jarruka (orange-footed scrubfowl) eggs and when jun jun (blue ginger) is fruiting, it is time to catch diwan (Australian brush-turkey). Many tree-dwelling animals were also hunted including murral (tree-kangaroos), yawa (possums) and kambi (flying foxes). 

The islands, beaches, creek mouths, backing dunes and lowland rainforest of the Daintree area also provided a major focus for camping and other uses for the Kuku Yalanji. Combined with the fringing reef and sea, a diverse range of resources were available to the Yalanji people on a systematic, seasonal and cultural basis. 

Characteristic cultural features of the Daintree region include a complex network of Aboriginal walking tracks. These were based around two major tracks, one along the coast and one further inland which were joined by an intricate network of associated tracks which connected all destinations, places of cultural importance and resource use. Many of these were later developed into the roads and tracks used today.