Yilgamba comes from our Mirning language yer, place and gamban, warm and is a warm camping or sleeping place by the fire, sheltered from the winds among the youlbari, sandhills. It is a great place of gathering for ceremonies and fishing is abundant. For gabbie, drinking water this is the main gowie, large water soak, though this is now covered by the drifting sands. Our word Goonminyerra is the base of our law given by Jeedara and means goo-mera, one min, Mirning friendly, caring people of this yerra, place of our dwelling.
Historical Records of our Family at Yilgamba
John Edward Eyre travelled through our Country in the early 1840’s. Several of his diary entries have been given to us, as records about our ancestors and Country. For example, here he recorded our name Yeer Kumban Kauwe (Chapter XIII, 7 January 1841) and our name gum-me-ra, one, which also connects with our word Goonminyerra (Chapter VII, Dialects for The Head of the Great Australian Bight)
Daisy Bates’ fieldnotes include our dhalyi (djalyi ) family at Yilgamba (Yergamban) and Mickey Free Lawrie is recorded under his tribal name, Thootha. (Series 12 Section V 3b, Totems: Notes from the Eucla district, p.22.)
Daisy Bates’ archive includes an article called “An unhonoured hero: Mailman Jimmy of the west coast” in The Eyres Peninsula Methodist, Feb-April 1912. Including how “in 1874 that Mounted-Constable Richards, then stationed at Fowler’s Bay, persuaded two aboriginals to attempt the journey on foot, carrying the mailbags” to and return from Eucla. The diaries of Mounted-Constable Richard’s wife record the locals of Fowlers Bay, including Mailman Jimmy.
There is a photograph of Uncle Jimmy, also known as Koolbiri and an article about him called Mailman Jimmy (Saturday Journal, 25 August 1923, p.17. 25)
Ernest Giles recorded that “Old Jimmy’s native name, by-the-way, was Nanthona”, which is a European rendering of Ngandatha, a traditional name for the Mirning of the Nullarbor Plains. (Australia Twice Traversed, Book 3, Chapter 1.)
Karajia Award for Children’s Literature
Today the Mirning Karajia are honoured through the naming of the Karajia Award for Children’s Literature, which is awarded annually by the Wilderness Society during Book Week. The Karajia Award for Children’s Literature celebrates excellence in children’s literature by Aboriginal or Torres Strait Island authors and/or illustrators, who honour Connection to Country and tell stories exploring land, community, culture and language.