Aboriginal History of the Canberra Region

The Ngunnawal (Ngunawal) and Ngambri peoples are the indigenous people of the Canberra region and its first inhabitants, having lived in the region for over 20,000 years. The neighbouring peoples are the Gundungurra to the north, the Ngarigo to the south, the Yuin on the coast, and the Wiradjuri inland.   

Within the Ngunnawal tribe there are seven clans who lived in specific localities in the region:  
The Maloongoola lived in the Molongolo area. The Biyaligee lived in the Pialligo area. 
The Namitch (Namwitch) lived in the Namadgi area. 
The Cumbeyan lived in the Queanbeyan area. 
The Kanberri lived in the Belconnen area. 
The Toogoranoongh lived in Tuggeranong area. 
The Woolobaloah lived in the Yass area. 

Tidbinbilla was an important area to the local Aboriginal people, with the Wiradjuri, Walgalu, Ngario, Yuin, Jaitmatang and Gundungurra joining the Ngunnawal people on the annual trek there, coming together to socialise, arrange marriages, trade, make laws and conduct ceremonies. Similarly, the areas we now know as Yarramundi Reach, Black Mountain and Pialligo were important meeting places for indigenous peoples.  

The annual southern migration of bogong months to the Tidbinbilla Ranges and Southern Alps was important to the local Ngunnawal and Ngambri people, who would gather in these areas near Canberra each summer to celebrate their arrival. The moths provided an important seasonal food and were collected in nets and roasted on fires (National Museum of Australia 2015).  



National Museum of Australia 2015, Community stories: Canberra region, <https://www.nma.gov.au/learn/encounters-education/community-stories/canberra>