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The Wurundjeri, also known as the Yarra Yarra tribe, was one of the three tribes that shared the Upper Yarra and Healesville areas. As Melbourne's traditional custodians of the land and of local Aboriginal culture, the Wurundjeri roamed throughout an area from Healesville to Lake Eildon, towards Westernport Bay and as far as Wonthaggi. Their Nurrungetta, or king, Bebejern was one of the seven tribal leaders who signed the 1835 Treaty with John Batman, which resulted in the establishment of Melbourne.
Another Wurundjeri notable, William Barak, born in 1923 on the Yarra River Flats, became a comparatively young Tribal Elder and progressive leader of the Wurundjeri. He was held in great respect by Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal alike. When Aboriginal communities were gathered together on stations, he became the communal caretaker of Coranderrk Station, the largest and most important Aboriginal station in Victoria.
Murrundindi is directly descended from these two great Wurundjeri leaders via his mother, Gumbri, who has taught him to esteem and honour his Aboriginal heritage. However, the early years of Murrundindi's life saw him suffer deeply from the racist taunts and comments and he had to work hard to overcome the devastation of this earlier discrimination. In his words: "From these childhood experiences I resolved to work towards creating harmony. The children of today are our future. If I can make them understand that we are all brothers and sisters then hopefully one day no child will have to suffer with or experience racism."
His teachings are simple; respect ourselves and respect each other. He says, "We must learn to live and understand ourselves as well as acknowledge and accept each other's differences. We are all from one race, we just have different coloured skin. We must also respect our Mother Earth who gives us life. If we do not respect her, we will soon not have a home to live in, food to eat, air to breathe or water to drink."
"We do not say goodbye, we say 'triganin' - until the next time."
Murrundindi and his people
© Murrindindi Dated: 22 June 2002 Updated: 23 January 2007