Ngarrabullgan, also called Mount Mulligan, is a visually striking table top mountain. For the Traditional Owners of Ngarrabullgan, the Djungan people, the mountain is a sacred and dangerous place that they approach with caution. Archaeological evidence shows that people stopped living on the mountain 600 years ago.
This is an exceptionally rare example of an archaeologically recorded change in behaviour which is consistent with contemporary Aboriginal traditions and beliefs.
Ngarrabullgan was included on the National Heritage List on 12 May 2011
How Ngarrabullgan was Formed - an Indigeneous Perspective
In Djungan tradition a malicious spirit, the Eekoo, is responsible for the current form of Ngarrabullgan. The mountain was originally a huge pile of stones built by wallabies on the advice of the eaglehawk. A swamp pheasant built its nest on the mountain and hatched its young. A malicious spirit the Eekoo came along and killed the nestlings.
The pheasants in their anger started a bush fire to kill the Eekoo. The fire was so huge that it melted the stones and so formed the towering cliffs of Mount Mulligan. To save his life the Eekoo created a lake on the top of the mountain and took refuge in its waters.
The form of the mountain and the presence of the Lake are a constant reminder to Djungan people of the malicious nature of the Eekoo who lives on the mountain. It is for this reason that Djungan approach Ngarrabullgan with caution and rarely camp on its summit.
50,000 YEARS OF OCCUPATION AT NGARRABULLGAN (SOUTHEAST CAPEYORK PENINSULA, NORTH QUEENSLAND):
THE STONE ARTEFACT TECHNOLOGICAL EVIDENCE
PhD, School of Art History, Cinema, Classics and Archaeology,
University of Melbourne, June 2005
This thesis investigates 50,000 years of temporal changes in stone
artefact technology and land-use patterns at Ngarrabullgan (Mt Mulligan), southeast Cape York Peninsula, Far North Queensland. The technological sequence is the oldest and longest investigated to date for Aboriginal Australia. Processes involved in stone artefact manufacture were reconstructed by analysis of lithic assemblages from five rockshelter sites.
Excavation of rock shelters on Ngarrabullgan show that Aboriginal people first began living on the mountain about 40 000 years ago but stopped camping on the mountain about 600 years ago.
There is no evidence that the area around Ngarrabullgan was depopulated at this time or any evidence that climate or environmental change made it more difficult for people to camp on the mountain. The archaeological record at Ngarrabullgan suggests, therefore, that about 600 years ago there was a change in the way Aboriginal people used the mountain.
The archaeological record showing Aboriginal people stopped camping on Ngarrabullgan about 600 years ago is consistent with Djungan tradition that the mountain is a dangerous place inhabited by a malicious spirit. This is an exceptionally rare example of an archaeologically recorded change in behaviour which is consistent with contemporary Aboriginal traditions and beliefs.
Reference: Department of the Environment: National Heritage Places - Ngarrabullgan
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