Kings Grave | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage

Heritage

Kings Grave

Item details

Name of item: Kings Grave
Type of item: Complex / Group
Group/Collection: Aboriginal
Category: Burial
Location: Lat: -33.0690862934 Long: 146.7890236
Primary address: , West Wyalong, NSW 2671
Local govt. area: Lachlan
Local Aboriginal Land Council: West Wyalong
Hectares (approx): 4.55
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
 West WyalongLachlan  Primary Address

Statement of significance:

Why is it an Aboriginal Place?
Kings Grave Aboriginal Place is the burial site of a Lachlan Aboriginal 'chief', which is currently marked by carved posts and a stone cairn. It provides an important cultural link with ancestors and to pre-contact culture.

Why is it important to Aboriginal people?
A great Lachlan 'chief' is buried at Kings Grave Aboriginal Place. According to Billy Boyd, who recorded his knowledge in 1914, the 'chief' attempted to cross the nearby river during a storm. 'The river was in high flood and the chief launched the bark canoe to test the crossing. The canoe was caught in the current, snagged and sunk as the chief was apparently caught in a snag and drowned.' The body was recovered and buried with great ceremony. Within a year of the burial, on 29 July 1817, explorer John Oxley and his party camped by the Lachlan River near the grave site. Oxley observed a tumulus (a large earthen mound) and several smaller mounds around the grave site, and two cypress pines to the west and north of the grave, which had carvings on them (see painting below). The party then excavated the tomb, examined the body and replaced it.

In 1913, amateur ethnologist and historian, Edmund Milne sought out the site using the description in Oxley's journal. The tumulus was no longer visible but one of the carved trees and the stump of the other remained. Milne removed the tree and stump and transported them to the Australian Museum in Sydney. He also arranged for a stone monument to be erected on the grave site, as well as two replicas of the carved trees.

Over the past ninety years the local Aboriginal community has engaged with its pre-contact culture by protecting the site and maintaining the carved posts. More than fifty years ago, Gundy Wighton carved the two posts currently on site: 'The others rotted away and we had to put new ones there with the same carvings. We used chisels and a hot iron to cut them away.' By preserving the site Aboriginal people are maintaining their culture. As Betty Atkinson says 'Kings Grave is where our people can learn about their culture', she wants her grandchildren to learn about the significance of the site and their culture. For Betty Atkinson, Kings Grave Aboriginal Place is 'a very, very sacred little spot', whenever she travels past the site she pulls over to visit it, and maintain a connection with her ancestors: 'It's a privilege to be in that spot to know that King Billy is there, from our tribe'.

Kings Grave is also an important reminder of the history Aboriginal and non-indigenous people share in the area. Charlie Coe, a local Aboriginal man, believes the monument is an important part of the site as 'It's part of the local explorers when they came through and they had an Aboriginal man with them - a guide looking after horses showing them part of their country.'
Date significance updated: 13 May 15
Note: There are incomplete details for a number of items listed in NSW. The Heritage Division intends to develop or upgrade statements of significance and other information for these items as resources become available.

Description

Physical description: What's on the ground?
Two carved posts are situated in the exact location of the cypress pines that originally flanked the grave. The carvings on the posts are exact copies of the Aboriginal arborglyphs carved on the original pines. A stone cairn, erected in July 1914, marks the location of the burial and commemorates the first European exploration of western NSW when Oxley camped near this site and recorded the location of the burial.

Nature of the environment
Kings Grave Aboriginal Place is situated between the Lachlan River to the north and a road (the Lachlan Valley Way) to the south. Pipers Hill rises up behind the road. The site is heavily eroded and covered by tufts of grass and bare earth with a few mature gum trees.
Current use: Kings Grave Aboriginal Place is currently used as a recreation area known as Goobothery Hill Rest Area.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
2. Peopling-Peopling the continent Aboriginal cultures and interactions with other cultures-Activities associated with maintaining, developing, experiencing and remembering Aboriginal cultural identities and practices, past and present. Aboriginal Culture-

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
NPW Act - Aboriginal Place  11 Jul 07 877013

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
ElectronicNSW Government2007Government Gazette of the State of New South Wales View detail

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

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(Click on thumbnail for full size image and image details)

Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Heritage Office
Database number: 5062942
File number: 04/03028 & DOC07/29840


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