Letter to the Editor |  Mt Canobolas’ story

I am astounded by the hypocrisy of the mayor, Reg Kidd’s concern for saving the nursing quarters, which are to be demolished, even though they hold heritage and historical value for the city.

Yet he approves 100 kilometres of mountain bike tracks on Gaanha-bula (Mount Canobolas) which will cause destruction and desecration to our Aboriginal sacred and spiritual site.

We have occupied these lands for thousands of generations. We are the oldest continuous culture in the world.

We oppose Orange City Council’s proposal in its entirety to build a mountain bike track on Gaanha-bula (Mount Canobolas).

It is a men’s initiation site and a place used for burning (initiation and ceremony). The Wiradjuri people occupied this land and camped on the mountain during these major ceremonies. Gaanha-bula is a place of spiritual connection through worship of Baiame (the Creator God and Sky Father).

Scatters of stone tools and engravings can be found near the peak, along with remnants of cultural activities that took place. Possum furs were made into cloaks and blankets for warmth during the winter months.

Traditional fire burns were used to manage the vegetation on the mountain and surrounding area to encourage the growth of important traditional food and medicine.

Gannha-bula is still a spiritual and significant place today for the Wiradjuri people. We must protect, preserve and respect our sacred sites.

The Aboriginal Dreaming story of Gaanha-bula (Mount Canobolas) as told by Uncle Neil Ingram Snr, Wiradjuri elder.:

“A long time ago there were three brothers: Gaanha-bula (Mount Canobolas) – meaning “two shoulders” -, Wahluu (Mount Panorama) – meaning “young men’s initiation site”, and Guhanal wayi (Mount Macquarie) – meaning “my brother’s keeper”.

Gaanha-bula and his younger brother Wahluu both fell in love with the same migay woman but because she showed more interest in Wahluu, Gaanha-bula became jealous. He challenged his brother to a spear-throwing competition, and the winner would get the migay.

When it became apparent that Wahluu was winning the competition, Gaanha-bula hit his brother in the back of the head with a bundi (club), killing him. This made the spirit ancestors angry, they made the ground erupt and lava spill out over Wahluu’s body – forming the shape of the mountain (Mount Panorama).

The spirit ancestors also struck down Gaanha-bula, making the ground erupt and lava spill over his body – forming Mount Canobolas as a constant reminder of what had happened.

The youngest brother Guhanal wanyi was so overcome with guilt and grief for not stopping his brothers from fighting that he also died.”

The moral behind the story is to take care of each other and not to hold a grudge or have anger in your heart.

Uncle Neil Ingram Snr, Wiradjuri elder.

Published in ‘Your Say’, Central Western Daily, 1 November 2021