The Cultural Significance of Brown Lake

On picturesque North Stradbroke Island, just outside of Brisbane, Brown Lake promises visitors a unique experience. Considered a perched lake (just like many of the other lakes on the selection of sandy islands around Queensland), it maintains its water levels via a thick layer of leaves lining the lake floor.

This is what gives Brown Lake its name – the tannin from the leaves of the surrounding Paperbarks and Tea-trees turns the water a rich brown colour that has been likened to tea.

The lake itself is a prominent part of the landscape for the people of Quandamooka, particularly the Dandrubin-Gorenpul and Noonucal Aborignal groups. They associate Brown Lake with women and children, where only women are allowed to speak for the natural wonder and are responsible by law to care for and manage the lake and its resources.

Brown Lake Stradbroke Island

The History of Brown Lake

Brown Lake is one of the two largest and most culturally significant lakes on Stradbroke Island (it’s also known as Bummiera, alongside its counterpart, Kaboora). It is thought to be home to a large spirit snake called yuri Kabool, who can travel from one lake to the other without any hindrance.

Legend has it that the Quandamooka people warned visitors who swam in the lakes and, for the locals, the natural pools of water were to be approached with special acknowledgement. Elders would sing out before they got too close to the waters and stood back to wait for a sign that they could approach – usually, this took the form of the waters being calm.

To the local community, this ritual of stopping, singing out, and waiting for a sign became common practice when approaching either of the two largest lakes on Stradbroke Island, including Brown Lake, in order to show respect for yuri Kabool.

Today, the lake is still imbued with a fascinating cultural history that spans generations, but it is also a popular hotspot for visitors looking for the perfect place to picnic or soak up the spectacular scenery that this part of Australia has to offer.

The picturesque backdrop that surrounds the lake lends itself perfectly to a day spent kicking back, relaxing, and enjoying some food. Then you can explore the local area, enjoy the other sights on Stradbroke Island, and learn more about the Aboriginal legends that run deep through the ground on the island.

North Stradbroke Island

North Stradbroke Island is the world’s second largest sand island, with Fraser Island taking out the top spot. It’s located in Queensland in Moreton Bay, a mere 30 kilometres from central Brisbane. North Stradbroke, known to the locals as Straddie is the perfect tropical getaway as the climate remains at a warm temperature all throughout summer and keeps a reasonable average temperature during the winter months. Straddie also boasts the best land whale watching area in the world, along with great bush hiking trails and of course, the freshwater Brown Lake. There are three towns on the island these being Dunwich, Amity and Point Lookout.

North Stradbroke Island

Point Lookout is the area in which whale watching is viewed and is a beachy town with a laidback atmosphere and perfect beaches great for surfing.

Dunwich is a large heritage town where you can base yourself whilst exploring attractions such as the Brown Lake, also known as Bummeira. It’s here in Dunwich that you should visit the historical museum and learn about the rich culture of the island and its traditional inhabitants.

Amity Point is a smaller town that has a village-like atmosphere. This town is perfect for the nature lovers, as the coastal vibes are perfect for fishing, kayaking and dolphin spotting.

Quandamooka People

The Quandamooka People have lived on the land and seas surrounding North Stradbroke Island, also known as Minjerribah. It’s here that they have lived for 21,000 years, the three tribes within Quandamooka. These are the Nughie of Moorgumpin (Moreton Island), Nunukul and Gorenpul of Minjerribah. The area of Redland holds many important ceremonial sites for the Quandamooka people, as well as artefacts such as spearheads found scattered along the island. In 2011, the Federal Court of Australia recognised the Quandamooka People’s rights to their native land, and in agreement with the Redland City Council, are continuously working in a way that will benefit both the community and protection of their lands.

Quandamooka Festival

From the 1st of June to the 31st of August, seven major events will be celebrated to promote awareness of Quandamooka country. The opening of the Quandamooka Festival is a Welcome called Yura where musical concerts, stories and art activities are but some of the events that will take place. Another important event that is worth going to is the Yura Yalingbila Yalingbila or Welcome the Whales. For over 50,000 years the Quandamooka People have welcomed the whales on their migration from Antarctica annually. The day involves some of the best whale watching areas in the world, activities such as weaving baskets, a market and food trucks. Each year the theme of Quandamooka changes with the 2019 theme being ‘Language.’ This theme has been chosen based on the United Nations decision to make 2019 the Year of Indigenous Languages. The Jandai language will be appreciated and awareness will be given to Indigenous languages through various activities at the festival.

Quandamooka Festival

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