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From: Vol.04 N.01 – Where to feel now

Buckley’s Lake (Monaro) and Miwany (Yam)

by Louise Crisp

Buckley’s Lake (Monaro)


Under Black Range

Greet, greet, greet –

the shape of the blade tools, scattered across…

red & black chert out over the lake bed walking in from the east

a broken windmill and stone well above high water mark of the dry lake

– Buckley who was on the Tambo when McMillan went through –

The edge of the lake shore a fringe of Crown land

‘Un-alienated land’ – Un/        claimed

for sailboats in the 1880’s

a white dress

and hat




=Aqua nullius


Miwany (Yam)


The tablelands of the Monaro… were not an environment rich in food resources.

Josephine Flood, 1980.


Around the undulating land of the Maneroo purple chocolate-lily nodding chocolate-lily
Yellow bulbine-lily pale vanilla-lily tubers small vanilla-lily blue grass-lily creamy
Milkmaids yellow star tiny star yellow rush-lily twining fringe-lily common fringe-lily early
Nancy golden moth orchid valleys carpeted with flowers and rich grass mountain golden
Moth purple diuris leopard orchid tubers tiger orchid parson’s bands slender onion orchid
Common onion orchid midget greenhood dwarf greenhood hundreds per square metre
Pink bindweed dotted sun-orchid slender sun-orchid roots & tubers magenta stork’s-bill blue
Heron’s bill grassland crane’s-bill austral crane’s-bill carrot cinnamon bells orchid yellow
Austral bear’s ear austral trefoil a lotus yam daisy: MIWANY walk into Round Plain
Travelling Stock Reserve after spring rains a swathe of yellow purple white flowers: edible
Lilies orchids a tiny remnant of the plains and open forest… covered with grass so luxuriant…
flocks of kangaroos quietly grazing, the emu crossing & re-crossing, the quail rising at every
150 species of birds on the plains brolga bustard bronze wing pigeon blue grass parrots
Raspberry cranberry heath prickly currant bush: marrenggang kangaroo apple appleberry
Wild cherry honeysuckle: gillarang manna wattle sap wallaby grass wild sorghum blown
Grass kangaroo grass like a field of wheat three feet tall native flax seeds hovea pods
Cumbungi: gummiuk: gamjag common reed water ribbons 200 tubers per plant tall and tuber
Spike rush slender bitter cress leaves and stems marsh club rush tubers roasted pounded into
Cakes nardoo sporocarps soaked ground roasted bracken rhizomes fronds water fern lagoons
literally swarming with wildfowl
breeding waterfowl black swan mountain freckled black
Pink-eared blue billed musk wood duck hardhead shoveler grey & chestnut teal moulting
Waterbirds are unable to fly long necked turtle yabbie spiny crayfish black fish: mundya eel
Galaxia long-nosed bandicoot southern brown bandicoot: manyuk koala wombat echidna
Paddymelon big fat kangaroo-rat: potoroo or bettong sp: dyimang biwan rock wallaby swamp
Wallaby sugar glider ringtail possum brush-tail possum tiger & eastern quoll etc
& moths in high summer rocks above the flourishing plains – flicker in dream song wind


The Ngarigo are the traditional custodians of the Monaro region.

Miwany: yam (Ngarigu).

“Yam” refers specifically to the yam daisy Microseris lanceolata, but may be used more generally to refer to any of the edible tuber producing grassland plants.

Epigraph from Josephine Flood, 1980, The Moth Hunters: an Aboriginal Prehistory of the Australian Alps, Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies, p.183

Line 1, quotation from Oswald Brierly Journal, New Years Day 1843

Line 4 quotation from Oswald Brierly Journal 29 Dec 1842

Lines 15, 16, quotation from William Crisp (resided Jimenbuan, Monaro, reference to country approx 1860) in Hancock 1972:107

Lines 11, 12, 13, 20, Henry Haygarth (resided Maranumbla, Monaro 1839-46) in Hancock 1972:60

Sources for Ngarigu vocabulary: Mathews 1908; Hercus 1986

Mēwañ [miwany] – yam, in Mathews 1908.  Also Njamaŋ [nyamang] – yam, in Hercus 1986; nyamin, garngeg in Blackburn et al 2014.


Blackburn, A., Blay, J. and A. Dorrough, “AWAY on the Bundian Way”, in N. Williams, A. Marshall, J. Morgan (eds.), Land of Sweeping Plains: Managing and Restoring the Native Grasslands of South Eastern Australia, CSIRO Publishing, Sydney, 2014, pp, 14-15.

Brierly, Oswald, Journal 1842-43. Mitchell Library, Ms A535, A537, extracts transcribed by  Chris Freudenstein and John Blay for Oswald Brierly and the Aboriginal People at Turembulerrer: An Exhibition of Artworks and Writings from the Journals of Oswald Brierly, curated by John Blay, hosted by Merimbula-Imlay Historical Society, Old School Museum, Main Street Merimbula, 2014

Hancock, W.K. 1972, Discovering Monaro: A Study of Man’s Impact on His Environment, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Hercus, Luise A. 1986, “Southern Ngarigu Vocabulary”, in “Victorian Languages: A Late Survey”, Pacific Linguistics, Series B –No 77, Australian National University, Canberra 1986: 243-48.

Koch, H.2009, “The Methodology of Reconstructing of Indigenous Placenames, Australian Capital Territory and South-eastern New South Wales”, in Aboriginal Placenames: Naming and Re-naming the Australian Landscape (eds.) Harold Koch and Luise Hercus, ANU EPress & Aboriginal History, Canberra.

Mathews, R.H. 1908, “Vocabulary of the Ngarrugu Tribe NSW”, Journal of the Royal Society of New South Wales Vol. 42:335-342

Published: January 2017
Louise Crisp

Louise Crisp’s publications include Uplandspearl & sea fed (shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s Awards)  and Ruby Camp: a Snowy River series. “Miwany (Yam)” and “Buckley’s Lake” are part of a long series on the Monaro Lakes written with the support of an Australia Council New Work grant.

An Australian and international
journal of ecopoetry and ecopoetics.

Plumwood Mountain Journal is created on the unceded lands of the Gadigal and Wangal people of the Eora Nation. We pay our respects to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and to elders past, present and future. We also acknowledge all traditional custodians of the lands this journal reaches.