Goomalling has a rich Aboriginal history and is an Aboriginal word which means ‘the place of the silver-grey possum’; ‘goomal’ or ‘koomal’ meaning ‘possum’ and ‘ing’ meaning ‘place of’.
“Within the present day boundary of the Goomalling Shire are many place names of Aboriginal origin, chiefly water holes and geographical features which the Balardong people hospitably escorted the Europeans to on their explorations, and gladly pointed out when shepherds and settlers moved into the district.” – Page 2, ‘Goomalling a Backward Glance: a History of the District’ by Barbara Sewell.
Some of the many local Indigenous place names include Booramugging, Bebakine, Boonjading, Birringdinning (later abbreviated by Europeans to Berring), Burabadji, Bolonine, Cutherling, Cularing, CooningCooning, Karranadgin, Dumbermining, Emuming, Elyaring, Goonaring, Jennacubbine, Jurokine, Jinjinning, Kalguddering, Konnongorring, Mumberkine, Mungalin, Qualin, Mindunning, Namelbuling (later abbreviated by Europeans to Nambling), Uberin, Wongamine, Muggamuggin, Quelquelling and Ucarty.
On the south west corner of where Calingiri Rd meets Main St, there used to be a ‘native reserve’, a place where Goomalling’s Aboriginal families were sent to live.
The Shire of Goomalling together with Koomal Yarns Group have erected a shelter and commemorative plaque, keeping the land available for local Aboriginal families, including people who lived at the reserve and their descendents, to create a memorial so that the site’s history is acknowledged and remembered.
To find out about the white mans’ laws and attitudes that had an impact on the lives of Aboriginal Australians including Goomalling’s Ballardong people, visit To Remove and Protect: Aboriginal lives under control, an online exhibition by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) with the co-operation of the National Library of Australia.
The interpretative walk trail at Oak Park includes information about Goomalling’s original Ballardong people and their culture. You can sit under a mya-mya (bough shelter) built by a local Aboriginal Elder and see the gnamma holes (holes in rocks where water collected).
The first chapter in ‘Goomalling – A Backward Glance’ by Barbara Sewell gives an account of local Ballardong life before and after white settlement.
The Tjapanmay dialect of the Noongar language used to be spoken in Goomalling but, sadly, it’s unlikely you’ll hear it today.
Efforts are underway to preserve at least some of the Noongar language. For a small taste, see Nyungar Budjara Wangany: Nyungar NRM wordlist & language collection booklet of the Avon catchment region. In the introduction it says,
“We hope this document will make a positive contribution to the ongoing development of Nyungar/Wedjella [non-Indigenous Australian] relations within the Avon Catchment Region. We encourage the use of the language to promote Nyungar engagement in natural resource management and to demonstrate intimate Nyungar knowledge (Katadjin) of their traditional lands (Budjar) and its biodiversity. We want to promote our words, our names and our places across this region and we would like to work with all people to better care for our Budjar. This was the sentiment shared by all Elders who contributed to this work.”