The Bourke Shire overlays the traditional lands of four major nations. The Ngemba (Ngiyaampa) are the traditional custodians of the land on which Bourke township sits, and their Country stretches south and west through the Cobar pene plain bioregion. Known as ‘stone country people’, the Ngemba/Ngiyaampa cared for some of the most significant sites in the region. Mt Gundabooka and Mt Grenfell are now recognised and protected in National Parks and boast significant cave art sites and other Aboriginal cultural heritage.
The Baakindji (Barkandji), one of the largest recognised groups in western NSW, are traditional custodians of the lands northwest of the Darling-Baaka. Their name roughly translates as ‘people belonging to the Baaka’. Their country extends almost the length of the Darling-Baaka, from the confluence of the Warrego River (Toorale National Park), right down towards the Murray River. Campfires on claypans, scarred trees, and middens can be found throughout the floodplains as evidence of their enduring occupation.
In the northeast, the Murrawarri are the traditional custodians, and in the northwest are the traditional lands of the Kunya. These lands are punctuated by the Culgoa and Warrego rivers, the Cuttaburra Basin, and the Ledknapper.
The story of Australian Aboriginal people can be conveyed no better than through the Back O’ Bourke people. From the great creation stories of Baiiame, which are infused into the stony ranges and culminate at the Nghunnu (Brewarrina Fish Traps), through thousands and thousands of years of living with the land, to colonial disenfranchisement, and ultimately, to a new and hopeful future of reconciliation and partnership. All of these chapters are represented in Back O’ Bourke, with evidence of the past here to witness and understand, and the stories of the future being told through locals and supported by the community.