THE K YAAN: The south arm of the Bellinger is called the Kalang River. It starts up in the hills and comes down to Urunga where it meets the North Arm and flows out to the Pacific Ocean. I take the South Arm Road when I’m going out to visit Kati B and the Cheery Redhead. They live about 20kms along the Kalang River , west of Bellingen. There’s a roundabout up there. One road leads back into Bellingen. One leads South to Brierfield and towards Bowraville and the other leads West along the Kalang Valley.
There you have the bare bones of Kalang. The flesh is more succulent. I added KIDS to the KALANG theme because Bellingen is a community where we love our Kids. Kids in Kalang have room to play and family life. I lived out there one time and my daughter has lived out that way several times. She rang me once to tell me I was going to be a grandmother. She had just come back from a decade in the city and was living in the house up above. Turned out it was her chooks that were having babies and I was only going to be grandmother to some poultry.
Way back before that, when my kids were little, my son called out screaming from his bedroom, that a creature had got him. I went in and his leg was covered in blood. Turned out that a leech had been on him when he went to bed and had gorged itself on his blood. Gave us all quite a shock.
Another Kalang tale, one that I was told by a Koori man, is that KALANG actually means, to put it politely, O MiGosh! or Goodness Me! He actually told me that KALANG is an expletive uttered by an Aborginal man who had had enough of white fellas asking him the names of places and things. “KALANG!” said he, in exasperation and the white fellas, as they are prone to do, took him literally and named the river and the valley – KALANG.
I was going to drive up Kalang Valley today. It’s a few years since I have been up to the end where Kati B once lived on a commune of sorts. I was going to drive up there but we need some car repairs first so I’m taking a look for Kids and Kalang pictures from other years. I know there is a hall out there. The school bus goes all the way. When we lived there at the time of the leech episode, we could hear the bus horn telling us he was on his way and when school was being closed because of floods coming, the bus driver started blowing the horn from the beginning of the Kalang Road and we all rushed down to our gates to get our Kids off the bus before we were flooded in for the duration.
When the Kids were teenagers and I was teaching school in town, we lived for a time on South Arm Road. On the banks of the River. We had a punt and canoes. Early in the morning, I used to take the big old wooden canoe out onto the backwaters and cruise along. I love rivers.
Anyways, I especially like the Kalang. It’s a green, brooding river which feels like home to me. The Yellow Rock is on the Kalang. I have a picture of it someplace. It MEANDERS, the Kalang does. It’s a thread from me to my daughter and her daughter.
THE YELLOW ROCK OF THE KALANG RIVER.
A SHED ON YELLOW ROCK ROAD BESIDE THE KALANG RIVER. MY VERY GIFTED SON-IN-LAW RESTORED IT AFTER THE 2009 FLOODS.
DUFFY’S BRIDGE ON KALANG ROAD.
OUT AT KALANG WITH KATI B
A COLLECTION FROM THE BEACH. TAKEN HOME TO KALANG.
HAMMOCK ON A KALANG VERANDAH
A VERANDAH WITH KIDS IN KALANG
THE SOUTH ARM ROAD THAT FOLLOWS THE KALANG RIVER
A GATE TO A HOUSE ON SOUTH ARM ALONG THE KALANG
THE YELLOW ROCK IN THE KALANG RIVER. VERY SIGNIFICANT COUNTRY. THAT’S URUNGA ISLAND ON THE FAR SIDE.
I found this is the old magazine called the DAWN. He speaks of the first half of the 20th Century.
FROM NEW DAWN. A WHITE FELLA’S VIEW.
A STORY FROM THE PAST
This is the third in a series of reminiscences from Ex-Inspector E. C. Smithers, who retired recently from the Aborigines Welfare
Board, after more’ than forty years in the service. It was during the time that I was an Inspector of Fisheries at Urunga that I was asked to take over the
management of the Urunga Aboriginal Station in addition to my normal Fisheries duties. The Station had been built some years before, on a low-lying island, and through bad management the aboriginal population had dwindled until only 14 elderly people and 3 children remained.
When Mrs. Smithers, an ex-high school teacher, opened the Station school, she had only 3 children to teach. Not a very inspiring start for any teacher. Within six months, however, our adult population had once again grown to 160 aborigines, and now we had more than 30 children attending school.
We purchased a launch and named it “Aleathea,’” and the boys and I would cross the Bellingen River Bar regularly to go fishing on the grounds outside for good hauls of snapper and other deep-sea fish.
Eventually, some leading 8ellingen people, including Dr. Myles, the Government Medical Officer, Mr. Mulhearn and Dr. Bull, began to take an interest in the aborigines and their deep-sea fishing, and on occasions would accompany us outside. Their interest and enthusiasm was so great that they got together with our local men and collected enough money to purchase a fishing boat and net for the people on the Station. We were thus assured of good hauls of fish at all time because if the weather was too bad to go outside, we could use the nets off the beach.
We had no need for a butcher’s shop and for practically the whole of the fourteen years we lived on the Station we had plentiful supplies of fish and vegetables grown in our own gardens.
After we had been on the Station for several years we had a succession of floods and as we had to move the aborigines to the mainland in a hurry on several occasions, I then reported to the then Acting Secretary (Mr. Foote) that the situation was becoming dangerous and he made a special visit to Urunga to have a look at things for himself. It so happened that the very night he arrived, and was staying at our house, the floodwaters came swirling down and washed the house right off its foundation. Fortunately, we had anticipated trouble and had moved all the aborigines to the mainland earlier in the evening (unbeknown to Mr. Foote), and we also had Jack Binalong and Stewart Bullock, two very fine aborigines, sleeping in the launch tied up to our back verandah so that when the house started to collapse, Mr. Foote and my family were able to step into the launch and be taken to safety.
This was perhaps the best illustration we could give anyone of the potential danger of the place. After this incident, the Board decided to move the people to Yellow Rock on the mainland. As we were only allocated about the purpose, we had to collect all the damaged material from the island houses, plus a lot of sawn timber that had drifted down the Bellingen River in the floods, and the boys and I built 23 two-roomed cottages on a ration basis payment. No money for wages . . . just rations.
Those were the days when everyone was happy and willing to work and help each other. At Urunga, we had our own oyster leases and also grew Over 70 acres of corn using borrowed gear to till the land.
On one occasion, when we were at Urunga Station, the Pilot (Captain Dedman) phoned me early one morning to say the Governor, Sir Walter Davidson and Lady Davidson, had arrived in Urunga the night before and were worn out after their many engagements along the road. Captain Dedman said he could arrange to take Sir Walter out and asked Lady Davidson. I went down and brought her Ladyship up to the Station in the launch. She was a charming personality and soon had all the aborigines at their ease. She spent a most enjoyable day with them, watching their farming operations, out in the boat fishing, and generally mixing with them.
When I took her back to Urunga about X I p.m. that night, she had had such an enjoyable time that she returned again the next day with Sir Walter.
We had fourteen happy years at Urunga and I would say it would have been impossible to have found a better of aborigine in any part of the State. They were a happy people, always willing, and indeed eager, to help themselves and to help others.
GOODNIGHT, ALL, FROM THE BOATHOUSE ON THE KALANG.