Jalarra Park

Yirrganydji country

This is Yirrganydji (Irukandji) country. Our country goes from Cairns up along the coast to Port Douglas. The mountains here are Bunda-Bunda-rra - the home of the cassowary, and the river is Bana-Bidagarra – the place of bark canoes.
George Skene, Yirrganydji Elder.

In 1876 Sub-inspector Robert Johnstone wrote;

...the Aboriginals depend entirely on Nature to provide them with the necessaries of life, and there, in the valley of the Barron, the jungle supplied them with fruits, roots and game in abundance.

Yirrganydji were rainforest dwellers and seafarers. For many thousands of years they traded nautilus shell necklaces, woven dilly-bags, large wooden shields and long timber swords along the coast and over the range to the tablelands. Even though the arrival of the ‘gadja’ (Europeans) resulted in the removal of many Yirrganydji to the Yarrabah and Mona Mona Missions, some traditions survived the invasion. In the 1920s the Cairns Post reported that a ‘warrma’ (ceremony) was performed on the Barron River at Stratford.

Three Aborigines in Barron River, 1895.
Postcard.
Image: Cairns Historical Society (GPN D0531)


Lily Bank Farm / Jalarra Park

The land at Jalarra Park was part of Lily Bank Farm and bananas, pineapples, sugarcane and oranges were grown here. In 1926 this block was set aside as school reserve. While the rest of Lily Bank was sold for residential blocks, the reserve remained undeveloped with parts of it under cane or leased for cattle. The school was never built and in 1993 the State Government gave the land to Mulgrave Shire Council for use as a Recreation Reserve.

‘Jalarra' is the Aboriginal name for the satinwood tree, Buchanania arborescens. The fruit of these trees was an important food source during Gurrabana (the Wet Season).There is a ring of jalarra trees planted at Jalarra Park.

Aboriginal dilly bag collected on the lower Barron River in 1905.
Now in the Rautenstrauch-Joest Museum, Koln, Germany.
Image: George Skene (B5562)

View of Barron Valley from Lilybank plantation showing kanakas chipping.
Photographer: Handley & Atkinson
Donor: Les Pearson
Image: Cairns Historical Society (Vallance Album, B3751)


Location


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