Dunwich township – Goompie
The Dunwich area was called Goompee or Coompee, from a word meaning pearl oyster. It has always been home to a sizeable indigenous population, as well as a seasonal visiting place for tribes from other areas. For the past 180 years it has also been the site of various European settlements, including a military/stores depot and convict outstation (1827-1831), a Catholic mission (1843-1846), quarantine station (1850-1864) and benevolent asylum (1866-1946).
In typical 19th-20th century fashion, many structures on the island were recycled. The stores depot buildings were re-used by the Catholic mission, and the Dunwich Benevolent Asylum structures that remained on the island when the asylum moved to Sandgate in 1946 have assumed new uses and can be found scattered around Dunwich and elsewhere on the island.
We had a talk and walk with Matt who explained the tools and their uses..
Rope and threads were made from the Fig tree, and also the Cottonwood tree. The leaves were also used in cooking and the flowers are edible
Fish traps caught the fish at high tide, and fishermen were able to catch the fish at low tide. Various leaves were wrapped around the fish before they were cooked. This area also has crabs and shellfish which were cooked or eaten raw.
Many different fishing methods were used. These included multi-pronged spears, a range of nets, stone fish traps and brush weirs. Further north and to the south people used fish hooks. Poisons were used to stun fish in pools or traps where they could be easily caught. For example, the tape vine (Stephania japonica), called nyannum was used as a fish poison throughout the territory of the Yugambeh people of the Gold Coast.
The red rocks are iron based, and when rubbed together create the red ochre that was used for traditional paintings, decoration and also as body paint for ceremonial purposes. White ochre was dug up, and there is also yellow ochre. These rocks are much prized and valued by artists as they create a strong durable paint.
Very Old and ancient trees line the shoreline at Dunwich. These trees provided bark, branches for tools and weapons, rope, medicines and also utensils and food.
Plants provided nutrients and were gathered by women and treated before use. The Pandamus had to be soaked to remove poisons before it was ground and used as food and many of the leaves were ground to a paste and eaten and seafood was the main food as this area is rich in sea life.