Home » Early Indigenous Presence – Forest Lake History Part 1

Early Indigenous Presence – Forest Lake History Part 1

Jamie Furness    March 8, 2023    4 min read   

The Lake News acknowledges the Jagera people, the traditional custodians of the land where Forest Lake is today and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging. This article is a collection of some of the evidence of Indigenous presence – the original inhabitants of Greater Forest Lake who have cared for and maintained Country over thousands of years.

10 indigenous adults and children of various ages stand naked on the Brisbane Riverbank. Half are in the ankle-deep water while the other half are perched on the rocky riverbank.

Brisbane River Indigenous inhabitants, 1890’s. Source: John Oxley Library

Woogaroo and Yerongpan Clans 

Until November 2015, descriptions on all land titles for Forest Lake properties included the term “The Parish of Woogaroo.” 

This Aboriginal name was adopted by the surveyors who came to Moreton Bay in 1839 to prepare land portions for lease and sale before free settlement was announced in 1842.

Land including the Forest Lake area was named the Woogaroo Wastelands (‘Wastelands’ denoted second class land, not suitable for agriculture).

In his “Annual Report on the State of the Aborigines in the Moreton Bay District for the year ending December 1843” Lands Commissioner Dr Stephen Simpson reported there were 40 Indigneous people in the ‘Woogaroo Tribe” near his station located at Wacol. He termed it a small tribe.

While there remains uncertainty due to historical disruption it seems Woogaroo clan country centred around Woogaroo Creek, Wacol, and extended west towards Ipswich (around Booval). 

From Wacol, Sumner and Richlands eastwards, the adjoining Yerongpan clan country stretched to Toowong. Forest Lake is almost certainly within the territory of the Yerongpan clan (“people of the sandy country”). Yerongpan peoples spoke the Turrbal language. 

The Ipswich Road 

Aboriginal pathways crossed the Moreton Bay region and many if not most of the roads made by the settlers followed these established pathways. 

The original Ipswich Track (1824-52) came quite close to Forest Lake and later became Government Road, which runs beside the northern entrance to Forest Lake. 

Hundreds of artefacts found along Ipswich Road show that the road was developed at least in part by following Aboriginal pathways.

Ipswich Track in 1850 - which later became Government Road - travelled west from Woogaroo Creek along Carole Park, through the centre of Inala, and north of Durack before veering east of Archerfield. In 2009, Ipswich Road was developed, travelling north of Carole Park, between Darra and Richlands and north-east of Archerfield.

The Forest 

The Forest Lake area was a mosaic of woodlands and rainforest and would have supported a considerable Indigenous population.

The forest areas provided plant and animal foods as well as medicines and raw materials like bark for shelters. Areas of silicified gravels and silcrete cobbles which occur frequently in the Forest Lake district were sources of stone for manufacturing tools. One major stone source was located near the confluence of the Blunder and Oxley creeks in Willawong.

Semi-permanent camps were often established. Generally these camps were by creeks and rivers which provided great resources for food and shelter (as at Goodna). From there, hunting parties would often travel up to two hours a day into the forest and return to the camps in the evening. These semi-permanent camps would have been occupied for a period of time before the group moved on to fresh hunting ground.

Archaeological evidence 

There is numerous archaeological evidence of Aboriginal camps in Forest Lake. 

Archaeologist Michael Strong has worked with traditional owners and Jaggera Daran Pty Ltd on archaeological and cultural heritage projects in the area for many years. 

By 2016 more than a dozen Indigenous archaeological sites had been identified in and around Forest Lake. 

  1. 2000: A large number of stone tools and artefacts were found where the Carole Park Industrial Estate exists today. These included cores, flakes, retouched flakes, adzes, scrapers.
  2. 2010: During a Cultural Heritage Assessment for the Blunder Road upgrade in Pallara, excavation of a series of test pits unearthed a large number of stone artefacts around an area of silcrete cobbles used as raw material.
  3. 2012: A single earth circle was identified on private land near Bullockhead Creek, Ellen Grove. Research by Turnstone Archaeology and other historians suggests that single rings were often located close to a clan boundary and perhaps could be used for dispute resolution.
  4. Two bora rings with a connecting path survive in bushland near Sandy Creek at Camira. In 2009 they were protected as one of the few remaining and clearly identified ancestral sites in the district. 

From Before Forest Lake by Vicki Mynott, With Michael Strong, Principal Archeologist, Turnstone Archaeology.

Adapted for print by Megan Woolley 

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Jamie Furness