The reeds (Phragmites australis) that grow along the banks of the Torryong (Ovens River) were used to make reed spears for fishing. These are known as Jareel: thin reed spears. The end of the reed is hollowed out and beeswax is used to hold in the spear head. Spears were traded with other groups and were often traded for stones from this area; the reeds grow thicker and stronger on the drier watercourses in other areas.
Freddie Dowling, the consultant on this story, is one of the elders of the Pangerang people. He is a storyteller and published author. His No More the Valley Rings with Koorie Laughter is a collection of stories, the majority of which were told to him by his father and his grandmother, Annie Lewis, the niece of Mary Jane Milawa.
These stories were written down in 1975 for his own family ‘so that their descendants could reflect on who they were and learn something of their culture and how it was before white settlement changed everything’.
The Pangerang/Bangerang people, a nation of sub-clans, occupied much of what is now North Eastern Victoria stretching along the Tongala (Murray) River to Echuca and into the areas of the southern Riverina in New South Wales.
Spear making along the Torryong
Photograph Bindy Welsh, 2011
Rural City of Wangaratta
Please contact Rural City of Wangaratta
Bindy Welsh, Indigo Images