Kuranda Little People documented in 2300 year old Chinese Book

It is ironic that the current inhabitants of Kuranda are fighting a proposed threat from a somewhat dubious Chinese businessman and casino owner, who has illegally cleared his land and has been bribing local councillors to promote his dystopian nightmare known as Kur-World.

It is interesting to learn that the Chinese have had a long term interest in Northern Australia, as evidenced by their ancient writings. For example, Confucius in his “Spring and Autumn Annals” {481 B.C.} records two solar eclipses having been observed by Chinese astronomers, possibly in Arnhem Land-one {by modern calculation}on April 17, 592 B.C.; and the other on August 11, 553 B.C.

Another record, “Atlas of Foreign Countries”, written between 265 and 316 A.D., describes the far north coast of the mysterious great south land as being inhabited by a race of one-metre tall pygmies-an obvious reference to the pygmy-sized Aboriginals identified by Australian anthropologist Norman B. Tindale in the mountains above Cairns, Queensland. See my earlier post on the Little People of Kuranda for more details on these findings

In 338 B.C., Shih Tzu wrote of the presence of apparent kangaroos kept in the Imperial Zoo in Peking, and further similar reports continued in several later dynasties. Emperor Chao about this time dispatched a fleet of junks with orders to return with marsupials from the southern land of “Chui Hiao”, and a Chinese book “The Classics of Shan Hai”, written some time before 338 B.C., describes our Aboriginals and thier use of the boomerang.

The Chinese appear to have been wary when having to navigate through Torres Strait. Many ancient Chinese expeditions through the Strait came to grief due to the dreaded Torres Strait Islanders who, until early in the 1900’s, were head-hunting cannibals. In fact, the islanders regarded Chinese as being just about No1 for flavour, as they found them nowhere as salty as white men.

Ancient relics are further proof of Chinese visits to our shores. In 1948 fragments of Ming period {14th Century} blue and white porcelin were dug up on Winchelsea Island, north west of Groote Eylandt; and a large copper urn of this age was unearthed in Arnhem Land some years ago. Aboriginal cave paintings of the Arnhem Land and the Kimberleys region include depictions of Chinese junks dating back hundreds of years.

The remains of an ancient vessel, found off the coast of Perth some years ago by the late skin diver Allan Robinson, is said to have revealed relics suggesting the wreck to be that of a 12 th Century Chinese Junk. At another site on the coast of the Gulf of Carpentaria near the base of Cape York, Queensland, a number of Chinese porcelin tea cups dating 2000 years were dug up several years ago.

In 1961 a 2000-year old vase bearing a crude map of the Australian east coast was discovered in Hong Kong. Another map, dating back 2000 years and drawn on porcelin, exists in Taiwan. it shows the southern coastline of New Guinea, the east coast of Australia as far south as the Melbourne area, and the crude outline of Tasmania. Another Porcelin map has since been found in China.

Dating to 1477, it not only describes much of the American west coast, but some Pacific Islands, including New Zealand, Australia and New Guinea, and the islands of south-east Asia and the coast of China.

In the late 1940’s a discovery proving ancient Chinese voyages into the west Pacific region was made by a team of anthropologists while researching in the Yasawa Islands to the west of Fiji. The men found an ancient copper mine cut into a hillside. Littering surrounding rocks they found numerous centuries-old letterings. Natives on the island were later found to possess Asian racial features. They say the island was visited by a race of “yellow men” long before the coming of the Europeans.

Thirty-five years ago a jade Buddha was unearthed near Cooktown in far north-Queensland, deep below ancient soil deposits. And at Darwin in 1879 workmen dug up a statue of Shou Lao, the Chinese god of longevity, from deep down beneath the roots of an ancient banyan tree.

Dating from the Ming period, it has been linked with an expedition believed to have been made to our shores by Admiral Cheng Ho on the orders of his emperor. The fleet consisted of 62 nine-masted ships, 140 metres in length, and it was accompanied by 28,000 men.

Cheng Ho {1385-1440} also possessed the magnetic compass on this voyage. Invented by the Chinese in 1090, it was not “discovered” in western Europe for another 100 years. Cheng Ho sailed from Shanghai in 1405 with orders to visit the islands of south-east Asia on diplomatic and trade matters.

He was also instructed to establish a colony in the vicinity of present-day Darwin while astronomers accompanying the expedition carried out observations of the southern skies. He was also asked to make offerings here to to the Celestial Spouse, a Taoist goddess who watched over mariners at sea.

During Cheng Ho’s stay near Darwin some of his men are said to have explored deep inland, and part of his fleet is claimed to have carried out the circumnavigation of Australia before returning to China. About 1980 a young woman unearthed a carved stone head from a sand hill while walking on a beach north of Milton on the New South Wales south coast. The head, now resting in the Kedumba Nature Museum, Katoomba {NSW}, is of a Chinese goddess, possibly the “Celestial Spouse” herself.

Could the carving have been left behind by Chinese mariners centuries ago, perhaps as an offering to the goddess for a safe voyage home? Could they have been members of Cheng Ho’s fleet? The Answer is lost in the mists of time. One thing is certain. If, as we have been taught in our school history books that Australia was only discovered by European mariners in the 126th century…what were kangaroos doing in the Imperial Zoo in Peking in 338 B.C?

More details can be found here

References :

In Dao Yi Zhi Lue there are two sections about Australia:
1. Ma Na Li, 2. Ro So Si (from Martin Tai Ro So Si may be a typo for Ro Po Si).  Merchants and sailors of Quanzhou mentioned Australia was at the end of the earth and called it ‘End Island’.
· Wang Da Yuan’s description of Australia:
“Some men and women in different form, they did not weave, wore no cloth, covered their bodies with bird feathers, ate without fire, drank blood….[others] wore colourful short garments, wrapped with a piece of Ban Ga La cloth as a skirt…”
· He called the red fire tree of Australia the “Si Naw” tree.
· He describes a large stretch of marshland east of modern Darwin and the Kilberry Plateau – “columns and columns of steep mountain peeks, like horses galloping in the sky, positioned near the sea.”
· There are two longish sections in the Dao Yi Zhi Lue describing customs of Australia.
· Confucius Spring and Autumn Annals (481 BC) recording solar eclipses in Australia – (Professor Wei)
· Classics of Mountains and Seas (338 BC) describes kangaroos, quiong –giong, boomerangs and black millet (S. Australia) – (Professor Wei)
· Shizi (338 BC) reports kangaroos in China. – (Professor Wei)
· Atlas of Foreign Countries (265-316 AD) describes small black pygmies (N. Australia), Jiaojiao people, plants grow leaves in winter, shed them in summer. – (Professor Wei)

Annex 10 – Evidence of Chinese Fleets visit to Australia – West Coast

1. Maps

Zheng He’s maps of Western Australia.  Professor Zhiqiang Zhang’s article entitled “Zheng He’s Fleets had reached Australia before 1450” published in Chinese mainland edition of the Peoples daily October 24 2003.  Professor Zhiquiang Zhang’s article in Chinese and English will be placed on the website.  Here is GM’s interpretation:
(i) Professor Zhiqiang noticed Zheng He’s Fleets sailed far south of Mozambique and Malagascar to ‘Malindi’.
(ii) This Malindi was actually the southern tip of South Africa.  However it had the same name as ‘Malindi’s in East Africa, thousands of miles further north.  Chinese scholars had until now confused the 3 Malindi’s.
(iii) “This time it was different, because the angle from which the chart [was viewed] was changed.  This time [land shown on Zheng He’s charts] was to the east not from Malindi of Kenya, nor from Malindi of Tanzania, but to the East from the Malindi of Africa’s southern tip along the same latitude.  At that moment, I took out the modern map and looked in comparison and concluded without any hesitation: this is Australia”.

“Now we could confidently proclaim Zheng He’s Fleets had discovered Australia in the early 15th century.  Zheng He’s Fleets Nautical Chart is the evidence, irrefutable evidence beyond all doubt.”

“We can also see from the chart [Wu Pei Chih] the two routes along which Zheng He’s Fleets returned to China, (1) via southwest Australia where they sailed northward (Hong Bao’s Fleet) (2) one from the east: west of the Tiger Tail reef” (Great Barrier Reef – Zhou Man’s route) – Professor Zhiqiang Zhang – Beijing, 28 August 2003.  From (1) we know Zheng He’s Fleets sailed northwards inside the Great Barrier Reef, from (2) they settled Australia – but where?  European and Jesuit Charts give the first clue:

· Australia appears on European maps of the Dieppe school published centuries before Europeans reached Australia, viz. Desliens, Vallard (showing horses), Desceliers, Jean Rotz (1540s).   These show West, North, East and South Australia (to Warrnambool).  Someone charted Australia before Europeans did so.  Captain Cook may have had a Chinese map (William Li).
· Albertin di Virga of 1410, where Australia is called ‘Java La Grande’ and placed in the correct position with the correct size and shape of the crest from Colliers Bay to the Gulf of CarpentariaAlbertin di Virga of 1410, where Australia is called ‘Java La Grande’ and placed in the correct position with the correct size and shape of the crest from Colliers Bay to the Gulf of Carpentaria
· Australia appears on Jesuit maps drawn when in China and based on Chinese Maps, viz. Father Ricci 1589 (Now in the Royal Geographic Society, London)
· Taiwan porcelain map (1447) showing East coast to Tasmania.
· Zheng He’s passage chart shows Barrier Reef (Martin Tai)
· Melchior Thevenot in Relations 1663 – Chinese aware of Australia – (M Righton).
· Hessel Gerritsz chart (1618) shows Australia (purchased Seville) – (M Righton).
· Australia shown on Wu Pei Chih (Sun Shuyun and Zhiqiang Zhang) (1422)
· Ma Huan ( Rosace = Australia = Darwin = Marani) (Martin Tai evidence)
· Old Chinese map of Australia disappeared from public viewing in National Palace Museum in Taiwan.  (Liuqioqing)

2. Chinese Claims and Records

  • Chinese Premier Hu Jintao’s speech to Austrailian Parliament 24 October 2003:

“Back in the 1420’s, the Expeditionary Fleets of China’s Ming Dynasty reached Australian shores.  For centuries, the Chinese sailed across vast seas and settled down in what they called “Southern Land”, or todays Australia.  They brought Chinese culture to this land and lived harmoniously with the local people, contributing their proud share to Australians economy, society and its thriving pluralistic culture.”

  • The Chinese merchant Wang Da Yuan as recorded in the Dao Yi Zhi:

“In 1330, Wang Da Yuan was only twenty years old: he boarded a commercial deep ocean ship and set sail from Quan Zhou returning in summer/ autumn of 1334…..” [The] crossed Indian Ocean back to Sri Lanka, Sumatra, Java, then to Australia, from Australia to Kalimantan, through the Philippines Isles and finally to Quanzhou.

“In 1337, Wang Da Yuan embarked the second time from Quan Zhou….[travelled through] the Strait of Mozambique and various places in Australia and returned to Quan Zhou two years later.” Translation by Martin Tai

  • Zheng He’s knowledge of Wang Da Yuan’s book Dao Yi Zhi:
    Ma Huan (who accompanied Zheng He’s Fleets):

“I followed Zheng He to various countries being there personally and witnessing with my own eyes, I attest what was written in Dao Yi Zhi were not false.” Translation by Martin Tai

In Dao Yi Zhi Lue there are two sections about Australia:
1. Ma Na Li, 2. Ro So Si (from Martin Tai Ro So Si may be a typo for Ro Po Si).  Merchants and sailors of Quanzhou mentioned Australia was at the end of the earth and called it ‘End Island’.
· Wang Da Yuan’s description of Australia:
“Some men and women in different form, they did not weave, wore no cloth, covered their bodies with bird feathers, ate without fire, drank blood….[others] wore colourful short garments, wrapped with a piece of Ban Ga La cloth as a skirt…”
· He called the red fire tree of Australia the “Si Naw” tree.
· He describes a large stretch of marshland east of modern Darwin and the Kilberry Plateau – “columns and columns of steep mountain peeks, like horses galloping in the sky, positioned near the sea.”
· There are two longish sections in the Dao Yi Zhi Lue describing customs of Australia.
· Confucius Spring and Autumn Annals (481 BC) recording solar eclipses in Australia – (Professor Wei)
· Classics of Mountains and Seas (338 BC) describes kangaroos, quiong –giong, boomerangs and black millet (S. Australia) – (Professor Wei)
· Shizi (338 BC) reports kangaroos in China. – (Professor Wei)
· Atlas of Foreign Countries (265-316 AD) describes small black pygmies (N. Australia), Jiaojiao people, plants grow leaves in winter, shed them in summer. – (Professor Wei)

3. Accounts of Contemporary European Historians and Explorers

An account of the exploration and charting of the West Australian coast by Willem de Vlamingh, December 1696 and January 1697 – “THE SOUTHLAND EXPLORATION”  ( Battye Library) By Gunther Schilder. ©  Published by  Canaletto  1984. BRN 117751

11th and 12th century copper schols (Franciscan missionaries’ evidence) describe voyages by huge fleets of junks (60-100) sailing for Australia to mine minerals.

The Indian Ocean crossing seems to have been uneventual, [by VOC standards]. Then on 29 / December / 1696 sighted what they called  “Fog Island at 310  48 ‘ S  132  28’ W. [ 10’  of a degree S less than by today’s charts] This was also  called “ Mist Eylandt ” by Victorzoon.  What could be the Southland was sighted four or five miles to the east. A  small boat from the hooker, “ Nijptangm”,  was rowed around the island.  Men from Vlamingh’s  frigate, “ Geelvinck” ,went ashore, where they saw the ‘rats’ , or big wild cats. This led Victorzoon to call the island “  t’ Eylandt T’Rottenest’  or   “ Rat’s Nest”. So today bears this name of  Rottnest Island . The ‘rats’ were the unique masurpials, the  quoka. He drew the trees on the northern edge of the island. The island’s waters were sounded at 10 fathoms……
…it is interesting to note that one column found what looked like to be the  “lining of a ship – very old ” . But nothing further was done about it.  It could be conjectured that it may have been something from the “Vergulde Draeck”, lost some 100 miles to the north. Brought down either by a few survivors, or the Aborigines, over the past 50 years . Or even a more ancient shipwreck.  Perhaps from Portuguese or  Chinese explorations of the 15th century – Jamie Bentley

4. Accounts of Local people

  • Reader’s story: Huge ship anchor found on top of a cliff on an island two or three nights North of Broome (Australia). Anchor points to a grave – a large marble slab with an unidentifiable inscription upon it. Also, ancient hand-made clay pots that seem to have been used for smelting gold discovered near-by. (Buckley Dwyer )

5. Linguistics

  • Lynda Nutter has found there are some 70 Nyungah words (peoples who live at Mundaring) almost identical to Japanese (Nihongo).  A full list will be placed on the website in due course (see Stone: Engravings below)

6. Shipwrecks/ anchors and fishing gear with Chinese characteristics

  • West Coast – Blackwood River estuary (340 19’ S, 1150 11’ E) (Legend of Sam Chalwell).
  • Perth – King Sound (evidence of Jim Mullins/Norm Fuller)
  • Diver Alan Robinson – find of a possible 12th century Chinese junk off the coast of Exmouth Gulf, Western Australia. He found articles including patterned ceramics and a “… magnificent cream coloured vase, covered in beautiful blue patterns. It stood 34” high, with a shape like an ancient Roman amphorae, except that the base was angled out to form a substantial stand. Below the flanged neck two handles projected in the form of coiled serpents. The whole object was beautifully glazed…” – Des Williams
  • Willem de Vlamingh’s log (mission of Dec. 1696 – Jan 1967) mentions coming across what looked like the “lining of a ship – very old” 8-10 miles up the Swan River.  Could this be part of a Chinese shipwreck of the 15th Century?  (Jamie Bentley)
  • A reader recalls how the remains of a shipwreck were found on a Perth metropolitan beach after a wild winter storm brought by the Westerly winds. At the time the newspaper report claimed that they were very old certainly before the time of British settlement. As to the exact time and place he cannot accurately pinpoint these. The beaches north of Fremantle on which the wreck was found were either Leighton, Cottesloe or Swanbourne. The decade was either the 50′s, 60’s or 70’s. Can anyone help with our research into this wreck? – Henry Court

7. Chinese Porcelain and Ceramics
Further research needed

8. Pre-Columbian Chinese Jade found in the wake of the Chinese Fleet

  • Darwin – Chu Lao (Professor Wei and Professor Needham’s evidence)
  • NSW – Ganesh and Hanuman statuettes

9. Artefacts, gems, votive offerings, coins and funerary urns

  • Incense Urn found in the form of a ship’s anchor standing upright, topped by a bird with wings outstretched around which a slender dragon is entwined – Warrnambool, Australia (Patrick Connelly)
  • Pskov coin of 1400’s found in Gympie, Australia. Pskov was an old fortress city in Russia when it was ruled by the Mongol-Chinese. This astounding find shows that trade took place between Australia and Russia at this time – Brett Green
  • Four large shell middens found on the land next to the Howard River which runs into Shoal Bay to the East of the current city of Darwin. It is claimed that they were constructed by Aborigines but it seems doubtful. Could there be a link between the middens next to the Howard River and the voyages of the Chinese fleets that visited Darwin? (Laurence Ah Toy)
  • Incense Urn found in the form of a ship’s anchor standing upright, topped by a bird with wings outstretched around which a slender dragon is entwined – Warrnambool, Australia (Patrick Connelly)

10. Stone: Buildings/ Structures/ Implements/ Engravings

  • Stone structure and engraved rock at Mundaring – Lynda Nutter’s finds at Mundaring in the Helena Valley at 116° 23’E (Same longitude as the Forbidden City) The most important inscriptions are: “The 15th day of the Seventh Lunar month, at the Bon Lantern festival, guidance is given to souls to assist their return to their origin, China.”
  •  The carved characters noted above have the same meaning in Chinese and Nihongo (Japanese).  The rocks have been set up in a way to enable longitude to be calculated at the winter solstice.
  • The Helena encampment is also described in “The Helena Story” – (Edward Quicke)
  • Petroglyphs from “The Burrup” near Dampier on the NW coast of Western Australia.  They are locally well known and one is even described locally as “The Chinaman” – (Dr John Groom)
  • Stone jetty made from rocks and stone from an inland quarry, Western Australia -(Mike Harty)
  • With regards to the Chinese habit of cutting stone circles in rocks at various locations as evidence for others of their visitation – similar circles around 5 to 8 inches in diameter have been picked into low stone face in North Western Tasmania at a place known as “The Sundown” next t where a fresh water creek empties on the beach about 10 kilometers south of the Arthur River. Coen Smit.

11. Mining Operations found by first Europeans
Further research needed

13. Plants foreign to Australia

  • From China: Lotus and papyrus
  • From China: Eclipta Prostrata (false daisy) – (Mark Parison)
  • From S America – 74 plant species.
  • Plantations of Prickly Pear Cactus, which originates in North and South America and is valued for its medicinal properties, found at site of Gympie Pyramid, Australia
  • A widely-used Chinese herb Eccipta Prostrata is listed in the Encyclopaedia Botanica (Australian Edition) as native to Queensland and NSW, Australia. In fact the plant is indigenous to China, Taiwan and Japan. It is probably another of those plants introduced from China during the 1421-23 voyages. (Mark Parison)
  • A reader reports about visiting a site in Dampier, Western Australian in about 1978/9. where they had been cataloguing Aboriginal rock carvings on stones for the Western Australian Museum. In a nearby area the sides of low hills were striped with rows of loose-stone terraces up to a hundred metres long. A guide said that the WA Museum was trying to verify that crops had been cultivated there by Aborigines, who had hitherto been classified as hunter-gatherers, with no evidence of their having remained in the one place for long. Could these have instead been the terraces upon which crops were grown by Chinese visitors from Zhou Man’s expeditions? – Richard Lynam

14. Animals foreign to Australia

See Australia East Coast +

  • The Elephant bird aka Vouron Patra (Aepyornis maximus). – This was an huge flightless bird, much similar to the Moa of New Zealand. Despite its originating in Madagascar, eggs and a skull of the elephant bird were found in Australia in 1968. For more information on the find please visit the following link: http://www.answersingenesis.org/docs/2462.asp It appears Fra Mauro Came across the bird as well in his travels. Here is a full translation for the Venetian text of Fra Mauro’s map of 1459, describing the ship or junk from India (he draws accurate pictures of Zheng He’s junks on that map) returning from the Atlantic to the Cape of Good Hope [page 91 of HB version of 1421.] “… They made the return to the said Cabo de Diab [Cape of Good Hope] in 70 days and drawing near to the shore to supply their wants, the sailors saw the egg of a bird called Roc, the egg being as big as a seven gallon cask, and the size of the bird is such that from the point of one wing to another was sixty paces and it can quite easily lift an elephant or any other large animal. It does great damage to the inhabitants and is very fast in flight…” [Translation Crone at page 32.]
  • Feral pigs – A lot of research has been done into feral pig populations in Australia recently. Most particularly this relates to the different sub species present, and specific parasites carried by these pigs. It is interesting to note that there is strong speculation that many of these species are believed to be derived from Chinese or ‘Asian’ pigs, and are definitely not descended from European pigs. Many of these colonies are now believed to have been established well prior to European settlement. Research is ongoing. Equally interesting is research on parasites recovered from non-European pigs in the Cape Tribulation area of Queensland which are not otherwise present in Australia – Joel Murray
  • A reader, commenting on the works of Heironymous Bosch, says how in his “Garden of Earthly Delights” (c. 1504) he depicts platypus and kangaroos, years before the first Europeans “discovered” Australia. Furthermore there is what appears to be an Australian magpie (gymnorhena tibicens) in the painting as well – Tony Magrathea
  • Reader claims that a porcelain piece in the China exhibit in the British Museum (casenumber 33) that is identified as the “Dancing Bear” is clearly a koala bear.  Any more information on this piece would be appreciated.15. Art
  • Cave painting (Governor Grey) of Chinese – compare with Zheng He’s statue in Fujian Palace Cave painting (Governor Grey) of Chinese – compare with Zheng He’s statue in Fujian Palace
  • Cave paintings very different from aboriginal paintings – different looking people, strange animal and the use of green colouring – Hall’s Creek, NW of Western Australia – (Peter Harvey)
  • Yalgoo Cave Painting, WA, using the traditional Chinese style of composition with the flattened perspective including a horizon, the middle ground image of a ship and the foreground, peninsular (Stuart West)
  • Australian reader remembers his father telling him that there were paintings of white people from before white settlement in caves in the Nullabor. The local aborigines had seen these people as the spirits of departed souls and had once viewed modern whites much the same way. He has also seen stone fish in the north and in Victoria. These are apparently most unusual for aborigines who did not settle in one place or normally create such structures but if they learnt it from others (and it is an Asian technique) then it would make more sense. (Royce Burns)

16. Chinese customs, games, clothes and legends
Further research needed

17. Armour, metal weapons, cannons and implements found

  • Ancient lead weight with Loisels pumice dated 1410-1630 (Bill Ward).

18. Diseases
Further research needed

19. DNA
Further research needed

20. Meteorological events and weather
Further research needed

21. Stars and Navigation
Further research needed

Professor Edward Bryant’s work (separate annex)

What GM thinks happened

Hong Bao’s Fleet – Much as in book as evidenced by Zheng He’s recently rediscovered Navigation charts of the Antarctic and Western Australia.  Some sailors settled in the Helena Valley (Lynda Nutter) at the estuary of the Blackwood River and on Rottnest Island

Zhou Man’s Fleet – Transpacific to Australia and down NSW coast to Auckland and Campbell Island – as in book.  There caught be Tsunami north of Auckland Island (Annexes 17 and Para 20).  Majority of Fleet impaled on New Zealand South Island.  Other Junks hurled NW to Australia – wrecked at Wollongong, Tasmania (Storm Bay); Edward Island; Warnambool (Port Fairy); Kangeroo Island; Blackwood River.  Some sailed north up NSW coast inside and outside Barrier to China via the Spice Islands (Zheng He’s Charts).  This scenario squares with all the artefacts, wrecks, legends, flora and fauna, histories and charts found to date.

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The Little People of Kuranda

We are discovering increasingly hard evidence that the Australian Aboriginals are the original peoples of the world and all other peoples came from Australia. DNA, rock carvings and now this from the Smithsonian:



Brazil’s Surui people, like the man pictured above, share ancestry with indigenous Australians, new evidence suggests. (PAULO WHITAKER/Reuters/Corbis)

Today’s post is about a little known tribe of Little People that still exists today in Far North Queensland.

In the 1400’s and 1500’s, Dutch and Portuguese sailors sighting the Western Australian coastline noted “tall natives in warfare chasing and killing hordes of “little” native peoples”.

Yet, since then, the Australian pygmies have been totally obliterated from public memory.

The Encyclopedia of Aboriginal Australia (1994), published by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, today does its best to disguise these people. It lists some of their tribes, including the Djabuganjdji, Mbarbaram (Barbaram) and Yidinjdji (Indindji), but does not mention a word about their stature. Only its entry “Rainforest Region” records the existence of

“small, curly-haired people with languages which have distinctive features”, but the accompanying photograph of Yidinjdji tribesmen taken in 1893 does not give any scale or point of comparison to show that these adult males were only about 140 centimeters (four feet six inches) tall.


Joseph Birdsell, height 186 centimetres (six feet one inch), with twenty-four-year-old male of the Kongkandji tribe, height 140 centimetres (four feet six inches).


The photograph was taken at Mona Mona Mission, near Kuranda, North Queensland, in 1938.

The Little People are still alive and well in the forests around Kuranda, which any Djabagay or Bulawai will confirm, their survival due to the fact that they cannot be seen by the whitefella.

Kuranda Primary School has the lowest average height amongst Original peoples in any school in the whole of Australia.

Watch this video from 23m15s for more evidence : https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=1242&v=fisLWLggrcM


A June 1861 report describes the first colonial encounter with this remote tribe :

“… their strange speech came forward in very soft tones… almost a whisper… a most unusual observance… took to conversation in (known) tongues… they commenced to converse with each other not using language… communication was in hand gestures and tongue “clicking”… tried to communicate with their hand signals… could not take to their unclear meanings… spoke again in (Mary River) Ka’bi language… response came forward finally… learnt that the ancient ones of Dha’muri… taught their ancestors the sign language… found all of this most unusual… able to record that these people were not in size a large clan group only numbering near one hundred and were scattered in the forests… they gave signals to follow them to an area on the shoreline… took to amazement on witnessing a stone structure of columns and an archway of great age… a state of collapse near four ceremonial rings… stonework lay on the ground and in the waters… the name Dha’muri was mentioned… took to quick artistry of the scene and the writings on the pinnacles… made contact with the remaining clan at a place called War’pbunga… the Place of the Frogs…”

What eventually happened to the Cairns rainforest people?

The following (edited) report of June 1864 tells of the “little people’s” shocking demise:

“… awoke to the sound of much gunfire… came across a most despicable act of humanity… as if a great war had been fought… bloodied native corpses covering the grounds and in the stream waters… recognised these were the Dhi’lumi little peoples of … previous acquaintances… peppered with gunshot… his woman bearing signs of harsh raping… throat slashed… their daughter and son… killed part decapitated and hanging over a tree branch – the son less his manly wares… slaughter appears to have been immediate without warning… cooking fires were still burning… their shantys and possessions lay strewn about the ground… utter disgust that these shy, ancient and good people had been shot to their deaths… Who could have done such an evil and dastardly deed?”

“… viewed the bloody scene with much contempt… none had survived. This last group of the Dhi’lumi were all quite dead… 43 members of the clan as I had counted… five old men and eleven other males were shot… their scrotums cut away… five old women and six young women… staked, tied down and then brutalised… signs of virginity lost or rampant bodily attacked then shot in the head… found six young boys and six young girls of the near ages of 9 to 12 years… brutalised in a most cruel manner similar to their mothers… blood seeping from their front and rear orifices. Bastards! Bastards! … The last were found in the tall water bushes of the stream… 4 young babies (2 boys and 2 girls)… their small throats cut open to dye the waters and left to die… lone act with the small children emptied my churning stomach of its full contents. What manner of animal could do such atrocities to another human being?”

The settlement at Yarrabah still exists at Cape Grafton. After 1897 it was not confined to the local people but accommodated Aborigines from all over North Queensland. The missionaries deliberately disrupted traditional tribal betrothals so that a fair amount of inter-marriage took place. It ceased to be a mission in 1960 when it was taken over by the Queensland Government. In 1986 it became a self-governing Aboriginal community but by then a large number of residents had left.

Mona Mona mission continued until 1962 when it was closed down. Its residents were dispersed to other Aboriginal reserves and into the general population. Some former residents now living at Kuranda want the original mission land returned to them.

Today, there are 14,700 Aboriginal people living in the Cairns region. We presume a good proportion of them must be descendants of the original Kongkandji, Barbaram, Indindji and Djabuganjdji tribes.

The first extended contact between Europeans and Australian pygmies occurred in the 1890s at Yarrabah, an Anglican church mission to Aborigines established in 1892 at Cape Grafton, just south of Cairns. The three main tribes in the region were the Kongkandji (Gungganydji), Indindji and Barbaram, whose territories covered, respectively, the coastal area around Cape Grafton, the eastern slopes of the Atherton Tableland from Lake Barrine south to Gordonvale, and the Great Dividing Range behind Cairns. All of them shared the same very short physical stature, as well as similar languages and culture.

In the mission’s first five years, about 150 Kongkandji periodically visited to receive rations but only a small number remained there permanently. After the Queensland Government passed its Aboriginal Protection Act in 1897, which forced Aborigines to be legally confined to reserves and missions, Yarrabah grew to a settlement of 150 residents drawn not only from the three local tribes but also from people all over North Queensland who bore no physical or cultural resemblance to the Cape Grafton Aborigines. Outside the mission, however, no one paid these people any special attention until an Adelaide researcher came across them in the late 1930s.

In 1938, Norman Tindale, an entomologist and anthropologist at the South Australian Museum, was going through a package of old photographs of Aborigines from the Warburton Mission sent him by a friend in Western Australia. One of the photographs of a group of men and women was labeled “Aborigines of north-west Australia”. The Warburton Mission was on the edge of the Gibson Desert, but the background of the photograph was clearly tropical jungle. It showed a wet weather hut thatched with what Tindale, a keen naturalist, recognized as the broad leaves of the wild banana tree. He could also tell that, if these were banana leaves, the people by comparison were very small. He made some enquiries and soon found that the only remaining stands of this plant were in the tropical rainforests on the eastern slopes of the Atherton Tableland in North Queensland.

At the time, Tindale and the American academic, Joseph Birdsell, were engaged in the most extensive project ever mounted in Australian physical anthropology to measure a large sample of Aborigines according to their weight, stature and a number of other bodily characteristics. They found the prospect of discovering a group in the Queensland rainforests so at variance with the norm, irresistible.

They also knew that, since the nineteenth century, there had been a number of theories about the origins of the Aborigines and the migration of ancient peoples to the Australian continent. In 1927, in his book, Environment and Race, the controversial Sydney geographer, Griffith Taylor, had speculated that several waves of Aboriginal migrants had swept before them an even older “Negrito” race. Maybe these rainforest people held the key to the story.

As soon as they could, Tindale and Birdsell drove from Adelaide to Cairns in search of the people in the photograph. They eventually found six hundred of them from twelve different tribal groups living on and around two missions, Yarrabah at Cape Grafton and Mona Mona at Kuranda on the Atherton Tableland. Some of them had only come in from the rainforest within the previous six years and spoke only their native tongue. They said there was still one family living a completely nomadic, hunter-gatherer life in the mountains behind Cardwell.

Tindale and Birdsell examined and measured 52 adults and children at Cape Grafton and 95 at Kuranda. Most adult males were between 140 and 150 centimeters tall (four feet six inches to five feet). The women were shorter by 15 to 30 centimeters (six to twelve inches). Tindale and Birdsell concluded they were not just small but were radically unlike any other Aborigines in Australia. They named them Barrineans, after nearby Lake Barrine. Tindale later said:

Their small size, tightly curled hair, child-like faces, peculiarities in their tooth dimensions and their blood groupings showed that they were different from other Australian Aborigines and had a strong strain of Negrito in them. Their faces bore unmistakable resemblances to those of the now extinct Tasmanians, as shown by photographs and plaster casts of the last of those people.

By 1963, when Tindale wrote these words in his book, Aboriginal Australians, the Barrinean pygmies were no longer an unknown people consigned to the oblivion of distant mission stations. Nor were they mere physical curiosities. They had become the centerpiece of what was then a widely influential explanation of the origins of human settlement on this continent.

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