Burragurra Revisited (2019) by W. J. Needham

Burragurra Revisited (2019) by W. J. Needham

After almost forty years since it was first published, Burragurra, a review of the Aboriginal relics in the Lower Hunter Valley, has been republished under the title Burragurra Revisited.

Bill Needham, who published the first edition whilst teaching at Cessnock High School, has now long retired and so was able to devote considerable time to the new edition to ensure it would be a valuable addition onto the bookshelf of Hunter Valley Aboriginal history. Part of this research involved weeks at the National Library in Canberra sifting through the records of ethnographers and settlers who observed Lower Hunter Aboriginal language groups in the late nineteenth century.

Charcoal frieze Coorabare Forest. Note the horseman centre of photograph (Photo Credit: W. J. Needham)

Burragurra Revisited analyses both the historical and contemporary literature from 1819 to 2019, a time span of exactly two hundred years. This literature has long been or currently is in the public domain. In addition, Bill has included contemporary accounts pertaining to Aboriginal sites recounted to him by several elderly people of Aboriginal descent. Their interpretations were made between 1975 and 1984 when Bill was living in the Lower Hunter region.

In addition, Jim Mitchell from Cessnock has generously allowed publication of a set of his photographs in Burragurra Revisited, these taken during his many years bushwalking the country around Wollombi. Some of his photos are unique both for their subject matter and the media used.

Burragurra Revisited runs to 365 pages. It contains over 140 coloured photographs and illustrations. The book details interpretations for local rock engravings and cave artwork, reviews local Dreaming stories as they have appeared in the literature, introduces the reader to emerging historical concepts such as the Aboriginal zodiac, and poses several historical questions that merit further research. One of these questions relates to the possible watercolour record of a Lower Hunter Valley corroboree.

Burragurra Revisited is available in a limited run of 250 books.

Hand stencil and cross-hatched design, likely a map, Congewai Valley (Photo Credit: W. J. Needham)

The book will be available from the Hunter Valley Visitor Information Centre by mid-July or directly from the author by emailing mimboori@hotmail.com


4 thoughts on “Burragurra Revisited (2019) by W. J. Needham

  1. Have the images been independently carbon dated, or similar, to establish the age of both the images and the materials used to draw them? Are the images in original condition or have they been refreshed over the years?

    David P

    1. David, your questions are too specific to answer either one simply. The book reviews the literature on sites in the Lower Hunter. Some of that literature dates certain sites and perhaps the artwork and other
      sites have been chalked by persons unknown. Indeed one site has had the chalking dated! The sites I visited had not been retouched and those that had been vandalised are quite obvious.

      Bill Needham

  2. David, your two questions are too specific to provide a simple answer to either. BR is a review of the published literature. These include articles on specific site excavations where some artwork has indeed been dated. Other sites have not been refreshed at all. One site has been outlined chalked which has been dated! Another location has contemporary art. The original work is obvious in most cases.

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