Who are the Gunaikurnai?
Gunaikurnai people are the traditional owners of Gippsland. There are approximately 3,000 Gunaikurnai people, and our territory includes the coastal and inland areas to the southern slopes of the Victorian Alps. Gunaikurnai people are made up of five major cians.
Here is the official spelling of the clans endorsed by the Gunaikurnai Elders’ Council, and a brief description of each clan area.
Clans of Gunaikurnai
Brabralung people in Central Gippsland. Mitchell, Nicholson, and Tambo rivers; south to about Bairnsdale and Bruthen
Brataualung people in South Gippsland. From Cape Liptrap and Tarwin Meadows east to the mouth of Merriman Creek; inland to near Mirboo; at Port Albert and Wilsons Promontory.
Brayakaulung people around the current site of Sale. Providence Ponds, Avon and Latrobe rivers; west of Lake Wellington to Mounts Saw Saw and Howitt
Krauatungalung people near the Snowy River. Cape Everard (Point Hicks) to Lakes Entrance; on Cann, Brodribb, Buchan, and Snowy rivers; inland to about Black Mountain
Tatungalung people near Lakes Entrance on the coast. Along Ninety Mile Beach and about Lakes Victoria and Wellington from Lakes Entrance southwest to mouth of Merriman Creek, also on Raymond Island in Lake King.
In dreaming terms, the first Gunaikurnai came down from the mountains in Victoria’s northwest carrying his canoe on his head. He was Borun, the pelican. He crossed over the river at what is now Sale, and walked on alone to Tarra Warackel (Port Albert) in the west. As he walked, he heard a constant tapping sound but could not identify it. When he reached the deep water of the inlets, Borun put down his canoe and, much to his surprise, there was a woman in it. She was Tuk, the musk duck.
He was very happy to see her and she became his wife and the mother of the Gunaikurnai people – they are the parents of the five Gunaikurnai clans.
The black and white shield logo of the Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation (GLaWAC) was designed by a young Gunaikurnai man, Steaphan Paton, to represent the Gunaikurnai people.
The logo depicts a lowered shield with traditional Gunaikurnai markings; the Jowering of the shield is symbolic that the fight is finished, and talks can occur. The shield’s markings are of a man talking to another man with input from the women. This discourse is about family, everyone having a say and working together. This is a common philosophy or wisdom that has been passed down from Gunaikurnai ancestors through teaching. The word dhuna is Gunai for ‘speak’, the word on the right wanggan means ‘hear’. This represents the idea that whoever speaks will be heard.
On Country/RAP Logo
The colourful On Country/RAP logo was designed by respected Gunai Elder Rita Watkins. Aunty Rita Watkins was a foundation member of the Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation (GLaWAC) and Elders Council. Aunty Rita was a signatory to the Gunaikurnai Settlement Agreement with the State of Victoria. Her daughter Glenys Watts said her mum loved life and being on country. The design represents our rights as Gunaikurnai custodians to protect the land and waters of Gippsland. Borun the Pelican surrounds and protects the People, Mother Earth, the Waterways and the Environment. The blue wren is the totem representing the Gunaikurnai people.