Quandamooka people
Location:Moreton Bay, Southeast Queensland
Coordinates:27°30′S 143°30′E / 27.500°S 143.500°E / -27.500; 143.500Coordinates: 27°30′S 143°30′E / 27.500°S 143.500°E / -27.500; 143.500
Notable people
Oodgeroo Noonuccal[1]
Leeanne Enoch
Aileen Moreton-Robinson
Moreton Bay, Moreton Island, Stradbroke Island and the rest of Redland Bay islands are the traditional homes of the Quandamooka people
Moreton Bay, Moreton Island, Stradbroke Island and the rest of Redland Bay islands are the traditional homes of the Quandamooka people

The Quandamooka people are Aboriginal Australians who live around Moreton Bay in Southeastern Queensland. They are composed of three distinct tribes, the Nunukul, the Goenpul[a] and the Ngugi, and they live primarily on Moreton and North Stradbroke Islands, that form the eastern side of the bay. Many of them were pushed out of their lands when the English colonial government established a penal colony near there in 1824. Each group has its own language. A number of local food sources are utilised by the tribes.


The term Quandamooka refers geographically to the southern Moreton Bay, the waters, islands and adjacent coastal areas of the mainland.[2] The Nunukul and Goenpul tribes lived on Stradbroke Island, while the Ngugi tribe lived on Moreton Island.[3] The Nunukul, Goenpul and Ngugi tribes together constitute the Quandamooka people.[2]


The archaeological remains of the Moreton Bay islands were studied intensively by V.V. Ponosov in the mid 1960s,[4] and indigenous occupation of the islands seems to go back at least some 18,000 years BP.[5]

The Quandamooka people first encountered Europeans in 1799, when the English navigator and cartographer Matthew Flinders passed several weeks exploring Moreton Bay.[6] The Moreton Bay people occasionally took in and cared for English ticket-of-leave castaways, most notably Thomas Pamphlet, Richard Parsons and John Finnegan, whom the explorer John Oxley found when he sailed into the bay in 1823.[7] The first settlement, a penal colony, was established the following year by Oxley at Redcliffe with 50 settlers, 20-30 of whom were convicts.[8][b] Contacts were scarce for over a decade, as no free settlers were allowed to enter within a 50 mile radius of the penal colony.[9] In 1873 Gustavus Birch, a well educated recluse found solace in the company of the Quandamooka people having relinquished his life on the mainland, setting up camp at Pulan Pulan (Amity Point) staying for over 30  years. During that time he kept a diary of his life on the island recording in detail, every day - who visited the camp, the food they caught and foraged for, weather patterns and other significant events. Significantly he recorded many Aboriginal words and their local meaning, and clearly identified the men, women and children with whom he shared his reclusive life.[10]

As free settlers began to move in, the indigenous peoples were pushed out of the more fertile lands into the coastal fringe, with many of them moving to the less occupied small islands.[11] The three Quandamooka peoples each faced dispossession and the loss of their hunting and fishing grounds. The presence of settlers introduced a number of diseases that ravaged the islands and coastal areas. Forced displacements and the removal of children also had an impact.[12] The indigenous people living on Stradbroke island were able to sustain their lifestyle for the longest period; however, in 1897 the Aboriginal Protection and Restriction of the sale of Opium Act moved all indigenous people to reservations, with the exception of those who were imprisoned or were employed as servants.[citation needed]



The lifestyle of the Quandamooka people was semi-nomadic, moving between semi-permanent campsites. They built shelters of various kinds, ranging from simple lean-tos for an overnight stay to more robust huts used at well-frequented campsites. Their traditions were recorded in the form of art, songs, and dances.[11]


The three tribes that comprise the Quandamooka people spoke dialects of a Durubalic language. The language that the Goenpul tribe of central and southern Stradbroke Island speaks is Jandai, and the Nunukul dialect of northern Stradbroke island was called Moondjan, the term for its distinctive word for "no".[13]


The Quandamooka people used several local food sources, including many from the ocean. The collection of these resources was often segregated by gender. Canoes were used to fish in Moreton Bay for Mullet, and to hunt Dugongs and Sea Turtles. They were also used to travel to the mainland to hunt.[11]

Hunting and fishing were male specialisations. Dugongs were highly prized catch, because of their multiple uses. The meat was roasted and eaten, while medicinal oil was also obtained from the animals. The men used several different techniques to catch fish. These included netting them from canoes using nets made of vines or bark, spearing them, and trapping them.[11]

The collection of other sources of food was done by women. These included shellfish, fern roots, Pandanus trees, insect larvae, berries, lily bulbs, honey, and small game. The fern roots were roasted and pounded into flour, while the fleshy part of Pandanus trees were used to make a drink. The game animals consumed by the Quandamooka included lizards, snakes, waterbirds, and marsupials.[11]

Art and tools

The Quandamooka people made several tools and weapons from materials found locally. These included boomerangs and shields, as well as dilly bags made from woven reeds. These tools were frequently decorated with patterns, which were either burned or painted. Tools and weapons were also occasionally traded with other nearby tribes.[11]

Native title

On 4 July 2011, the Quandamooka people were granted Native title to a 568-square-kilometre (219 sq mi) plot of land, following a 16-year legal battle. The title that was granted covered most of North Stradbroke Island, many smaller islands, and the adjoining parts of Moreton Bay. The title was the first granted to indigenous people in South Queensland.[14][15]

Prominent people


  1. ^ The Goenpul's contemporary descendants prefer the ethnonym Dandrubin Gorenpul (Ross et al. 2016, p. 4).
  2. ^ Dutton, in 1983, 4 years before Hughes' book, writes of 20 convicts and 14 soldiers, plus an assortment of help and family (Dutton 1983, p. 96).


  1. ^ Fox 2011, p. 106.
  2. ^ a b O'Faircheallaigh 2015, p. 125.
  3. ^ Connors 2015, p. 30.
  4. ^ Ponosov 1974.
  5. ^ Diamond 2012, p. 1.
  6. ^ Dutton 1983, p. 93.
  7. ^ Dutton 1983, pp. 94–95.
  8. ^ Hughes 2010, pp. 441–442.
  9. ^ Dutton 1983, p. 96.
  10. ^
    CC BY icon-80x15.png
    This Wikipedia article incorporates CC-BY-4.0 licensed text from: "Diary of Gustavus Birch 1873-1874". John Oxley Library Blog. State Library of Queensland. 26 November 2020. Retrieved 27 May 2021.
  11. ^ a b c d e f wynnummanly.com.
  12. ^ Ivanitz 2000, p. 83.
  13. ^ Dixon 2002, p. xxxiv.
  14. ^ Qsnts.com.au.
  15. ^ Quandamooka.
  16. ^ Collins 1994, p. 1.
  17. ^ Collins 1994, pp. 2–3.
  18. ^ Fox 2011, p. 109.
  19. ^ Robertson 2015.
  20. ^ Green 2015.
  21. ^ a b Brown 2006.
  22. ^ Manning 2005.
  23. ^ Northover 2014.
  24. ^ Rainforth 2015.
  25. ^ Serving Country n.d.
  26. ^ CPA Group 2017.
  27. ^ Redland City Bulletin 2018.
  28. ^ Australian Honours Lists.
  29. ^ Thomas 2000.
  30. ^ Koori Mail 2006.
  31. ^ Moreton-Robinson 1998.
  32. ^ Moreton-Robinson 2000.