September 15, 2007

15 September 1807, by Elizabeth Macarthur

Baranga-roo's homesite or "ngura", at the Miller's point.

Baranga-roo won't visit Parramatta for any reason, but I'm not sure why it's off-limits. She tells me so much about her life as a warm face, gestures and rudimentary conversation can express. She is a mother four times over. Benelong is Baranga-roo's second husband.
Baranga-roo lives with Benelong and her kurung Werowi and Wonga, her girl and boy, on the shore of Cockle Bay, in a bark shelter very near to our Sydney home. She calls that her "ngura", meaning her house.
Baranga-roo lives a rich life, her husband is kind and we share more in common than you may think. She brings food when we are in Sydney- the most delectable oysters, succulent briny morsels that are the best we've ever eaten, and tiny blackfish that she grills on the coals in her boat.
For this food, she accepts money, the smallest copper coins that are hoarded for a rainy day, she told me last year she had saved more than a shilling.
Her husband, Benelong, has a "ngura" near our Farm here at Parramatta. So he comes up river by himself in his canoe, a tidy paddle of twelve miles. Benelong calls the creek near us "ngunun" , pronounced "nun nun" which means the bats that infest the trees along its banks. He has offered us bats, also fried over coals, but they are not so appetising. I had Mr. Macarthur discover the quantity of roasted bat that Benelong consumed in a sitting, and am informed that 24 is not uncommon. Baranga-roo does not like him coming here and their fights about this are famous, being recorded in the Annals of the Colony, as written by Mr. Collins and Lieutenant Tench. The canoes the Natives make from bark are carefully singed over fire, twisted at each end, and destroying one of these works of weeks, as Baranga-roo has done over Benelong's twice, is a sign of her dislike of Parramatta. I understand other Natives refuse to attend various places, saying it is not allowed for them to go to those places.

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