Aboriginal heritage

Aboriginal heritage

The Traditional Owners of the Argyle Diamond Mine are the Gija and Mirriwung people. The location of the Argyle mine is called Barramundi Gap and is a sacred women’s site.

Dreamtime or 'Ngarranggarni' stories provide a strong belief system through which indigenous people understand their country and their relationship to it. The following Mirriwung and Gija stories - which have been passed down orally from generation to generation for thousands of years - describe the dreamtime origins of the Barramundi Gap.

Jaliwang Ngarranggarni

Barramundi dreaming story (Mirriwung)

A barramundi lives in the river at Tharram (Bandicoot Bar). One day, a crane fishing for food sees the barramundi and spears it with her beak, but is unable to catch it as the barramundi swims quickly away.

The barramundi travels up the Dunham River, past where the Warmun community is today, and on to Glen Hill where she scrapes off some of her scales as she passes through. Today, these scales can be seen near the Glen Hill community's first gate as white rock on the hillside, most clearly visible in the late afternoon.

Here the barramundi is spotted by some women who try to catch her using nets made of rolled Spinifex grass (a traditional Mirriwung fishing method known as Gelganyem). But the barramundi flicks her tail and jumps over the trap. She escapes between the two hills of Barramundi Gap and heads down to Bow River, where she comes to rest as a white rock. This rock, which can still be seen today, is quite different from all the others at Bow River.

Daiwul Ngarranggarni

Barramundi dreaming story (Gija)

A barramundi is being chased by a group of old women and swims into a cave near the area now known as Barramundi Gap. As she enters the cave the women prepare to catch her with nets made from rolled Spinifex grass (a traditional fishing method known as Kilkayi).

The barramundi realises she is trapped in the shallow, muddy water of the cave entrance and tries to escape by swimming to the other end, toward Nunbung (Wesley Springs). But she cannot find a way out and returns to the entrance of the cave, where the old women are waiting with their nets. She swims toward the women and jumps over them, shedding her scales as she jumps and leaving them behind in the shallow water. The scales become the diamonds of all colours that are found there today.

The barramundi then jumps through a gap in the rocks, landing in the deep, clean water of Kowinji, or Cattle Creek. As the barramundi dives she turns into a white stone. Three of the old women who have chased the fish to Cattle Creek peer into the water to look for her and they too turn to stone, forever becoming a part of the landscape. Today there are three stone formations overlooking the creek.

According to the Gija people, barramundi are not found in the area today because of the presence of the Ngarranggarni barramundi in this place.