Grave of Yuranigh | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Grave of Yuranigh

Item details

Name of item: Grave of Yuranigh
Other name/s: Yuranigh's grave
Type of item: Archaeological-Terrestrial
Group/Collection: Aboriginal
Category: Burial
Location: Lat: -33.1219956056 Long: 148.8826805080
Primary address: 3km SE of Molong Yuranigh Road, Molong, NSW 2866
Local govt. area: Cabonne
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Orange
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOT278 DP750170
LOT2 DP845407


About 0.5ha, Yuranigh Road, 3.5km south-south-east of Molong, Portion 278 Parish Molong
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
3km SE of Molong Yuranigh RoadMolongCabonne  Primary Address

Statement of significance:

Yuranigh's grave is an excellent example of 'culture contact'. The presence of carved trees around the grave demonstrates commemoration by Aboriginal people. While the inscribed headstone indicates the 'honour' bestowed on Yuranigh by Major Mitchell, to whom he acted as a guide on his famous last north west exploratory adventure. The carved trees are also, as far as is known, the longest remaining number of carved trees around a grave.
Date significance updated: 07 Dec 01
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.


Construction years: 1852-1852
Physical description: The grave is marked by a headstone, which pays tribute to Yuranigh's courage, honesty and fidelity. Marking the corners of the burial ground are four carved trees which like the grave, have been fenced for their protection. One of the trees is dead, and the carving on it very distinct. The other trees are alive and the carvings obscured to varying degrees as a result of regrowth. Yuranigh was one of T L Mitchell's guide, who died between 1847 and 1852. The grave apparently had five trees in 1854. In 1852 New South Wales Government paid for memorial headstone for the grave which is still here. Best preserved burial site in region. The grave consists of a marble headstone with a inscription. Grave itself is set in a concrete slab with a sandstone slab in the concrete. Sandstone slab has another inscription. Grave faces south-west and is surrounded by a white wooden fence with chicken wire netting. Dimensions of fence; 3.2m x 3.6m
Current use: grave site and memorial
Former use: grave site and memorial


Historical notes: Yuranigh, originally from Boree, accompanied the explorer T.L Mitchell on his fourth and final journey to the north-west of Australia. This venture finished approximately 161km west of Mackay in Queensland. A party of 29 white men and three Aborigines, one of whom was Yuranigh, departed from Boree on this journey on 15 December 1845, with equipment consisting of eight drays, 80 bullocks, two boats, three light carts, and enough provisions for a year. As the party progressed Yuranigh became increasingly helpful to Mitchell for which Mitchell was extremely appreciative. Yuranigh's main contribution lay in his ability to appease other Aborigines, through whose territory they passes, and in his extensive bush lore, with which he advised Mitchell. In his journal Mitchell described Yuranigh as his 'guide, companion, counsellor and friend'.

On the completion of the exploratory journey Yuranigh accompanied Mitchell to Mitchell's Sydney home, but not liking the city, Yuranigh soon left to become a stockman on a northern cattle station.

On 13 July 1850 Mitchell learnt of the death of Yuranigh at the old Gamboola Station, near Molong. According to their custom, the Aborigines buried Yuranigh there, marking his grave with four carved trees. According to early settlers, it was common practice for Aborigines to carve the trees around the grave of an Aborigine of distinction or repute. All the carvings were cut to face Yuranigh's grave. Of the four trees, only on one, which is now dead, can the carvings be clearly seen. The carvings on the other trees must almost have been covered by regrowth. The distinguishable carving is an ovate spiral surrounded by a triple extended S-pattern on one side.

The grave of the Aborigine, Yuranigh, has been marked with signs of respect by both Aborigines and Europeans. The grave has around its perimeter four carved trees, a sign by Aborigines that the buried person was worthy of special credit. A fence and a memorial stone in the European tradition was also erected.

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. Wiradjuri Nation - marking places of burial-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Exploration-Activities associated with making places previously unknown to a cultural group known to them. Routes taken by Surveyor Thomas Mitchell-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Exploration-Activities associated with making places previously unknown to a cultural group known to them. Guiding the explorers-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Birth and Death-Activities associated with the initial stages of human life and the bearing of children, and with the final stages of human life and disposal of the dead. Burying and remembering notable persons-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Yuranigh, explorer's guide-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Yuranigh's Grave is of state significance for its associations with the exploration of inland Australia, and particularly for its ability to evidence significant, positive contacts between Aboriginal and non Aboriginal people during the colonial period.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
Yuranigh's Grave is of state significance for its associations with the significant person surveyor Major Thomas Mitchell and guide Yuranigh, as well as associations with the Wiradjuri people of the Central West of NSW.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Yuranigh's Grave has landmark qualities within a rural landscape by its arrangement of carved trees around a marked grave, making it aesthetically distinctive in both its local context and within the context of known contact-era graves of Aboriginal people.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
Yuranigh's Grave is significance for the sense of community and place it affirms in the Wiradjuri communities of the Molong area and the Central West region.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
Yuranigh's Grave is of state significance as an important reference site for burial of Aboriginal people that have been honoured and commemorated by both Aboriginal and non Aboriginal communities for nearly 150 years, and because it provides evidence of bi-cultural (Wiradjuri and English) attitudes to death and remembrance that are relatively rare in NSW.
SHR Criteria f)
Yuranigh's Grave is rare and is state significance for its evidence of the now defunct custom of carving living trees adjacent to grave sites, as the only known example of a grave exhibiting Aboriginal and European burial markers known in NSW, for its ability to demonstrate designs and techniques in tree carving, and for its ability to show rare evidence of the activity of marking graves and remembering persons important in Wiradjuri and non Aboriginal communities.
SHR Criteria g)
Yuranigh's Grave is of state significance as a fine example (the only known example) of its type as a grave demonstrating bi-cultural respect for an important man, and for its attributes evidencing a way of life and the customs of both the Wiradjuri people of the Central West and of the settlers in the colonial period.
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
57(2)Exemption to allow workStandard Exemptions SCHEDULE OF STANDARD EXEMPTIONS
Notice of Order Under Section 57 (2) of the Heritage Act 1977

I, the Minister for Planning, pursuant to subsection 57(2) of the Heritage Act 1977, on the recommendation of the Heritage Council of New South Wales, do by this Order:

1. revoke the Schedule of Exemptions to subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act made under subsection 57(2) and published in the Government Gazette on 22 February 2008; and

2. grant standard exemptions from subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977, described in the Schedule attached.

Minister for Planning
Sydney, 11 July 2008

To view the schedule click on the Standard Exemptions for Works Requiring Heritage Council Approval link below.
Sep 5 2008

PDF Standard exemptions for works requiring Heritage Council approval


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0171310 Mar 06 321349
Potential Heritage ItemA 17 Aug 01   

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Central West Pilot Program SHRP2001 Heritage Office SHRP  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
TourismCentral NSW2007Grave of Yuranigh View detail
TourismNational Parks and Wildlife Service2007Grave of Yuranigh View detail
WrittenNSW Heritage Office2004New Aboriginal places nominated to the State Heritage Register 20/1/04
WrittenNSW National Parks and Wildlife Service1999Yuranighs aboriginal grave historic site plan of management

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

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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Heritage Office
Database number: 5051559

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