A Bora Ring at Tucki Tucki. This Aboriginal cultural site was once alive with the sounds of localised religious and cultural activities. Now the only sounds to be heard here are those of cicadas, birds, and traffic.
Bora Rings are circles in the ground constructed from earth and stone. Before the British invasion of Australia in 1788 Bora Rings were integral to the religious ceremonies of the Aboriginal people. The largest rings measure 30 metres in diameter and were typically associated with male initiation ceremonies. Bora Rings were usually connected to a complex design of paths which led to smaller circles, the size of which often reflected social hierarchies. The areas surrounding the smaller rings acted as temporary campsites for any visiting groups attending the ceremonies. It appears that the construction of Bora Rings was limited to parts of Queensland and New South Wales.
Aside from their religious significance Bora Rings were often sites for the exchange of material items between various groups. The organisation of tribal divisions and settling of differences could also be decided here. Bora Rings were consequently part of the maintenance of social systems within and between certain Aboriginal groups.
Since colonisation the destruction of Australia’s Bora Rings has been immense. It is estimated that of the 426 Bora Rings which are known to have originally existed only 94 still survive. The spread of farming and urbanisation coupled with a disrespect for Indigenous values have been responsible for the demise of these cultural sites.
The single ring at Tucki Tucki is regarded as one of the finest examples remaining in Australia, spared from destruction due to its proximity to a neighbouring cemetery. However Australia’s disregard for its Indigenous cultural heritage continues with the expansion of a nearby quarry being approved by the NSW state government. Members of both the Widjabul (the local Aboriginal people) and local residents are currently protesting against the expansion. An article on this story can be found here.
To read more about Australian Aboriginal archaeological sites please follow this link to an article by Susan McIntyre-Tamwoy.
4 thoughts on “Australian Aboriginal Heritage: the Tucki Tucki Bora Ring”
That’s a sad story. Are any of the surviving Bora Rings still used?
Yes, it’s quite heartbreaking. There are no Bora Rings in use that I know of, though I could be wrong. The surviving Bora Rings sit in isolation, with the connecting paths and other smaller rings having been destroyed long ago. The Tucki Tucki Bora Ring has a plaque saying it was last used in the 1800s.
Fascinating story and all too common these days as urbanisation and populations grow to levels which are largely unusustainable. Lovely audio.
Thanks Tim – it’s hard to imagine how this might once have sounded. The surrounding countryside has been deforested, the creeks have been altered, a main road has cuts its way through what must have once been a place of spiritual significance. A result of a growing population and urban planning which removes the significance of the past and present local indigenous people.