the balonne river
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Balonne River, Surat
Rusted car body in the river bank near the Mundy Camp
Interprative Rive Signage, Surat
Linking the town of Surat and its people is the picturesque Balonne River, which has provided people with food and recreation for many thousands of years. For both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people, the river continues to be a significant part of life in Surat. It runs beside what is now is a camping ground for visitors and tourists, and a place for the quarterly ‘Spirit of the River’ markets, but it was the life-blood of the Aboriginal people who lived in camps along its banks for most of the twentieth century. Visitors can visit two of these campsites and see a restored humpy (at the old Combargno camp on the north bank of the river) and a replica humpy (at the site of the Mundy/Cleven camp on the south side). Both sites include interpretive signage that tells the visitor about the Aboriginal people who lived there.
The river walk and the two Aboriginal camp sites are beautiful places to visit and reflect upon the diverse histories that have made Surat what it is today.
Where the River runs through the town itself, there is a river walk and interpretive signage for visitors about the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal history of the area. Further west on the south side of the river is a corroboree site that was also the location of an infamous massacre in 1852 where many Aboriginal people died. One of the most famous conflicts in the area is retold in the story of Aboriginal resistance leader Bussamarai and other Aboriginal fighters who engaged in a form of guerilla warfare against the white settlers who had taken their land. You can find out more about this significant part of Queensland history in an online book. A number of scarred trees are scattered along the banks of the river, mementos of a time when Aboriginal people took bark to craft wooden shields, containers and other tools from the landscape.