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The Watiwati are an indigenous Australian aboriginal people traditionally living on both sides of the Murray River, from Victoria to New South Wales.

Murray River the longest river in Australia

The Murray River is Australia's longest river, at 2,508 kilometres (1,558 mi) in length. The Murray rises in the Australian Alps, draining the western side of Australia's highest mountains, and then meanders across Australia's inland plains, forming the border between the states of New South Wales and Victoria as it flows to the northwest into South Australia. It turns south at Morgan for its final 315 kilometres (196 mi), reaching the ocean at Lake Alexandrina.

New South Wales State of Australia

New South Wales is a state on the east coast of Australia. It borders Queensland to the north, Victoria to the south, and South Australia to the west. Its coast borders the Tasman Sea to the east. The Australian Capital Territory is an enclave within the state. New South Wales' state capital is Sydney, which is also Australia's most populous city. In September 2018, the population of New South Wales was over 8 million, making it Australia's most populous state. Just under two-thirds of the state's population, 5.1 million, live in the Greater Sydney area. Inhabitants of New South Wales are referred to as New South Welshmen.



The tribe's name comes from a reduplication the word for 'no' (wati), typical of tribal names in this area.


The Watiwati's lands enclosed some 2,000 square miles (5,200 km2) of territory north and south of the Murray River and Swan Hill. It reached northwards towards Moolpa, N.S.W. To the west its boundary lay at Piangil in Victoria. [1] To the east were the related Wemba-Wemba, north east the Nari-Nari, north northwest the Muthi Muthi, and to their west the Tatitati. [2]

Swan Hill Town in Victoria, Australia

Swan Hill is a city in the northwest of Victoria, Australia on the Murray Valley Highway and on the south bank of the Murray River, downstream from the junction of the Loddon River. At the 2016 census, Swan Hill had a population of 10,905.

Moolpa, New South Wales Town in New South Wales, Australia

Moolpa is a small rural community in the southwest part of the Riverina in New South Wales, Australia, and is named after a nearby sheep and wheat station. It is situated about 13 kilometres southwest of Pereketen and 34 kilometres northwest of Moulamein by road.

Piangil Town in Victoria, Australia

Piangil, once frequently spelled "Pyangil", is a town in the Mallee region of northern Victoria, Australia. It is approximately 382 kilometres (237 mi) north west of the state capital, Melbourne and 46 kilometres (29 mi) north west of the regional centre of Swan Hill. At the 2016 census, Piangil and the surrounding rural area had a population of 259.

Social structure

The Watiwati were formed of several clans, one horde called the Dacournditch was located in the area between Tyntynder and Swan Hill.

A band society, sometimes called a camp or, in older usage, a horde, is the simplest form of human society. A band generally consists of a small kin group, no larger than an extended family or clan. The general consensus of modern anthropology sees the average number of members of a social band at the simplest level of foraging societies with generally a maximum size of 30 to 50 people.

Tyntynder, Victoria Town in Victoria, Australia

Tyntynder is a town in the south-east of the Mallee region of Victoria, Australia. It has an Australian rules football team in the Central Murray Football League. Tyntynder post office opened on 4 May 1894, then it was renamed Nyah Post Office 1 November 1894, but closed on 8 August 1944. At the 2016 census, Tyntynder and the surrounding area had a population of 151.


According to A. L. P. Cameron, the Watiwati believed that the first inhabitants of the earth, all endowed with a capacity for metamorphosis into other animal species, were called Bukumurri, who were changed into ordinary men by Thathapuli, the dreamtime creator spirit. [3] Fire had been the exclusive possession of Pandowinda, the cod fish. After a while, Pandowinda passed the secret of fire-making to the rakali water rat, Kerambin, on condition that the latter would cook for him. Other Bukumurri were deeply disgruntled at the arrangement, and convened a meeting, presided over by the native bat, Rakur to work out how to steal the secret. The task was delegated to the hawk Keridka, who twice dispatched strong winds to make spread the fire being used by Pandowinda and his offkick, Kerambin. On each occasion, his attempt failed. A third attempt, with a powerful whirlwind succeeding, despite prodigious efforts to snuff them out, succeeded, and a wuildfire burnt out over the forests to create the plains of the Riverina. While the others rejoiced that the fire was now accessible, only Rakur went about, clearing the fire from some trees, and spiriting ashes in the clefts to keep the flame, as they others mocked his efforts. When a rainstorm doused the conflagration he made them realize the folly of their ridicule, and he taught them to rub sticks together and coax the flames out of the concealed embers. [4]

Rakali Species of mammal

Rakali, Hydromys chrysogaster, also known as the rabe or water-rat, is an Australian native rodent first described in 1804. The change to the aboriginal name Rakali was intended to foster a positive public attitude by Environment Australia. It is the only member of the genus Hydromys with a range extending beyond Papua New Guinea and Indonesian West Papua. Having adapted to and colonised a unique niche of a semiaquatic and nocturnal lifestyle, this species lives in burrows on the banks of rivers, lakes and estuaries and feeds on aquatic insects, fish, crustaceans, mussels, snails, frogs, birds' eggs and water birds. Rakali have a body 231–370 millimetres (9.1–14.6 in) in length, weigh, 340–1,275 grams (0.750–2.811 lb) and have a thick tail measuring around 242–345 millimetres (9.5–13.6 in). Females are generally smaller than males but tail lengths are normally the same.They have partially webbed hind legs, waterproof fur, a flattened head, a long blunt nose, many whiskers and small ears and eyes. The body is streamlined with a skull that is large, flat and elongated, with two molars on the upper and lower jaw, similar to the False water rat Xeromys myoides. They are black to brown in colour with an orange to white belly, and dark tail with a white tip.

Accipitridae family of birds of prey

The Accipitridae, one of the four families within the order Accipitriformes, are a family of small to large birds with strongly hooked bills and variable morphology based on diet. They feed on a range of prey items from insects to medium-sized mammals, with a number feeding on carrion and a few feeding on fruit. The Accipitridae have a cosmopolitan distribution, being found on all the world's continents and a number of oceanic island groups. Some species are migratory.

Riverina Region in New South Wales, Australia

The Riverina is an agricultural region of South-Western New South Wales (NSW), Australia. The Riverina is distinguished from other Australian regions by the combination of flat plains, warm to hot climate and an ample supply of water for irrigation. This combination has allowed the Riverina to develop into one of the most productive and agriculturally diverse areas of Australia. Bordered on the south by the state of Victoria and on the east by the Great Dividing Range, the Riverina covers those areas of New South Wales in the Murray and Murrumbidgee drainage zones to their confluence in the west.

A very old Watitwati told Cameron of what happens to a man's soul, once he dies. Initially it wanders about I n a dazed state, confused by its new surroundings. Bumbling along a path, it comes to a fork, one track coveted with hindrances, being overgrown with brambles, the other offering an easier prospect. The good man's soul would choose the harder track, knowing the unencumbered route would be rife with perils. Some way on, it comes upon two women, one haggishly ugly, the other young and enticing. The old woman warns him not to be cajoled by the charms of the young woman. Further on, it encounters a chasm, brimming with flames, and the soul springs over it as the flames recede. It comes upon a rope drawn across the path by two women who endeavour to trip him up. Once this obstacle is negotiated, it arrives among the blessed, but even there the trial is not ended, as it was endure a period of probation with a special diet, and subjected to testing challenges. Lastly, it is placed at a spot where fleet emus race past, and given a spear, and told to spear one if he is to finally meat the maker. In Wati lore, shooting stars are the traces of spears thrown by souls as they try to hit the emus and, if successful, encounter their high being, Thathapuli. [5]

Alternative names




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