Wait-a-while is one of the first plants unsuspecting visitors learn to identify on a cultural Indigenous tour in Tropical North Queensland. If you brush up against the long spiky tendrils of lawyer cane it grabs your clothes and prevents you from walking further through the world’s oldest rainforest.
The Indigenous ranger tour guides at Mandingalbay Authentic Indigenous Tours show you how to’ wait a while’ and safely unhook yourself from the rainforest plant, while telling you how the black lawyer cane, known in language as Jabulum, was used to make shelters, baskets, fish and crab traps.
Their ancestor Jabulum Mandingalpai was strong like the black lawyer cane and as the lead warrior of his fearsome warrior people he lived by the rule of his hand, not his words. The second part of his name, Mandingalpai, means ‘of the hand’ and his descendants are today known as the Mandingalbay Yidinji people.
The Mandingalbay Yidinji people have lived continuously on their land, just a 10 minute boat ride from the Cairns CBD, for tens of thousands of years and today their 100% Indigenous owned and operated tours showcase their culture and country with walking tours, camping and Deadly Dinners.
The Rangers who guide visitors through the waterways, mangroves and rainforest of their traditional country are direct descendants of Jabulum. The warrior was born around 1858, before contact, and saw the first white men come to his neighbour’s country to establish the port of Cairns.
Jabulum was a fierce, resourceful and strategic leader who survived the occupation and settlement of traditional lands. His people were known throughout the Yidinji Nation as warriors and often were asked by neighbouring clans to help defend them against attack.
Jabulum’s primary camp site was Maurahbai, now known as Green Hill. Representing one of the many significant story lines traversing Mandingalbay Yidinji country, Maurahbai was a useful vantage point for Jabulum. He would dispatch runners with messages from the hill and mobilise his warriors if neighbouring tribes, especially the Gunggandji people, needed assistance during times of conflict.
Jabulum was also the lore man for his people, upholding the traditional laws that governed their lives such as what food could be taken at different times of the year and marriage matches with other clans to ensure correct bloodlines.
The Mandingalbay Yidinji warrior reputation was reflected in their clan totem, the black scorpion, Djunbunji, which is found in the rainforest of their country. The totem continues to be used today with the Traditional Owners creating the Djunbunji Land and Sea Program in 2010 to manage the Mandingalbay Yidinji Country for their people.
The Djunbunji Rangers look after the landscape and its cultural values including the sacred sites, Dreaming tracks, and totemic animal and plant species, sharing their knowledge by supporting Mandingalbay Ancient Indigenous Tours to host visitors wanting to know more about the oldest living culture on earth.