Another original item featured in the Spoken exhibition is the Harriet Barlow Manuscript dating from the 1860’s.
Hariett Barlow lived on Warkon Station which was taken up her husband Alexander Barlow in 1858-1872. Warkon was situated on the Balonne River near present-day Yuleba and was originally established by Henry Bingham in 1850; so it was a very early run in the Maranoa District.
Thomas Mathewson arrived in this area in 1853 and gives an account of the frontier conflict in a paper read to the Historical Society of Queensland on 2nd September 1915. Mathewson’s “Personal Reminiscences of ’53” provide first hand experiences of the Native Police and their operations in the Maranoa. This is further explored in Patrick Collins’ publication Goodbye Bussamarai : the Mandandanji land war, Southern Queensland 1842-1852 J 994.34 COL. This sets the context where Aboriginal groups sought safe havens at properties, hence Warkon Station had Aboriginal workers from several neighbouring language groups. These workers provided much of the vocabulary for Barlow.
Barlow is probably one of the first people to record words from the different language groups in the Maranoa-Balonne catchment; her manuscript is held in the State Library collections and contains vocabularies from 8 languages. Barlow identifies these as Coongarri No. 1; Wirri-Wirri; Ngoorie; Yowaleri; Cooinburri; Begumble, Cambooble and Parrungoom and has written them down according to how she has heard them pronounced in syllables.
Coongurri No. 1 refers to Gunggari (AIATSIS Language Code D37) – Barlow identifies at least 2 dialects of Gunggari on Warkon Station. Wirri-Wirri is also known as Wirray-Wirray (AIATSIS Language Code D66) and is believed to be a dialect of Gamilaraay spoken on the Balonne River. Ngoorie, also known as Nguri (AIATSIS Language Code D46), is a relatively unknown language related to Bidjara and extends along the Maranoa River. Yowaleri is better known as Yuwaalaraay (AIATSIS Language Code D27) which is related to Gamilaraay and extends from the Culgoa River north up the Balonne River. Coo-in-burri as written by Barlow, is recorded today as Guyinbaraay (AIATSIS Language Code D15), is another language with a dialectical relationship to Gamilaraay. Begumble is generally written today as Bigambul (AIATSIS Language Code D34) and is based on the Weir and Moonie Rivers to the South of Warkon Station. Cambooble, also known as Gambuwal (AIATSIS Language Code D29) is closely related to Bigambul and is based around the Millmerran, Inglewood, Stanthorpe districts along the Dumaresque River. Barlow’s Parrun-goom is better known as Barunggam (AIATSIS Language Code D40) and is located to the east of Warkon Station centred on the Dalby region. Barlow in her notes (See above image) identifies the locations of the language groups.
The Manuscript held at State Library forms the basis for several papers written by Barlow; one of these is “Vocabulary of Aboriginal Dialects of Queensland” published in 1873 in The Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland. These papers include comparative tables of the vocabularies and groups these by various topics such as family names, animals, plants, numerals, etc. Over 100 everyday words are listed for each language as well as a selection of simple phrases and sentences for several of these languages, notably Gunggari. This represents an excellent starting point for language revival activities in South-West Queensland communities.
Additional material in the Manuscript and associated notes, include observations on customs, kinship and culture as well as discussions about several individuals who worked on the property. This material is often used by researchers and community members seeking to find details on these mostly undocumented languages.
L R Schwennesen later owned the property and took an interest in the wordlists originally compiled by Barlow. These vocabularies are also recorded with additional notes in M292 L R Schwennesen Papers, which are held in the State Library collection.
Barlow’s work represents some of the earliest documentation of the Aboriginal languages of South-West Queensland and provides an insight into the contact history of the Maranoa and the rich diversity among the Aboriginal groups of the region. It is a valuable historical source for community members and language workers seeking information on the languages of the Darling Downs.
State Library extends an invitation for all Queenslanders to see the Harriet Barlow Manuscript and explore the many stories of Spoken: celebrating Queensland languages.
Indigenous Languages Coordinator, State Library of Queensland
State Library of Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Languages Webpages
State Library of Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Languages Map
Jarjum stories: A kuril dhagun showcase focusing on children’s books and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages. 19 October 2019-10 May 2020.
Spoken: celebrating Queensland languages: A major exhibition exploring the survival and revival of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages throughout Queensland. Join in the many talks and events to celebrate the rich and diverse languages spoken today. Opens 21 November 2019-19 April 2020.
References and Further Readings
Barlow, H. (1873) “Vocabulary of Aboriginal Dialects of Queensland”, The Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, 1873, Vol.2, pp.165-175. [Available online via One Search.]
Collins, P. (2002) Goodbye Bussamarai : the Mandandanji land war, Southern Queensland 1842-1852 . J 994.34 COL
Harriet Barlow Manuscript ca. 1865. OM91-69
L R Schwennesen Papers. M 292
Mathewson, T. (1915) “Personal Reminiscences of ’53”, Journal of the Royal Historical Society of Queensland volume 1 issue 2: pp. 96-98. [Available online through Text Queensland.]
‘17,000 sheep crossing the Condamine River on Warkon Station, 1917’. JOL Image number: 702692-19170210-0028