Ulugundahi Island is in the Clarence River near the township of Maclean. The brown sign for Ulugundahi Island is at the northern edge of the shopping area.
It was set as an Aboriginal reserve in 1904. Prior, in the 1800s, the government rounded up Aboriginal people and put them on the island. Today, it is owned and managed by the Yaegl Local Aboriginal Land Council.
There isn’t much to see of the island from the side of the river. The location on the map for this brown sign is placed where the island can be viewed from along River St and the banks of the Clarence River.
The meaning of Ulugundahi is from the Yaegl people, meaning ‘shape of an ear’.
The spelling of Ulugundahi Island is as it is shown on the brown sign, however, it appears to be more frequently spelt as Ulgundahi Island.
Maclean Talking Trail
Ulugundahi Island was part of the Maclean talking trail, the brown sign is there as part of the talking trail. Headphones were borrowed and audio played as you walked the trail. Below is what was included in the talking trail audio.
Ulugundahi Island has a rich history of Yaegl occupation from the late 19th century up until the mid-1960s.
Many of the lower Clarence Yaegl people were either born on or are descended from people born on the island.
In 1904, eight acres were gazetted as an aboriginal reserve by the Aboriginal Protection Board, and a further thirty-five (35) acres in 1907. Over the years the island community established their own school, church and store.
During the 20th century, a number of severe flood events eventually led to the relocation of the island’s remaining residents the Hillcrest mission from 1967 onwards.
Today Ulugundahi Island is owned by the Yaegl Local Aboriginal Land Council and is used primarily for market gardening purposes.
Ulugundahi Island ‐ Yaegl historyLyrics of the song on the Maclean Talking Trail for Ulugundahi Island
Home of our families ‐ They lived there happily
Times were tough but farm they had
We shared each others company
The food we grew was for us all
Our cane cutters, all stood tall
My name is Lorraine Randall. I lived and went to school on the Island.
It was a good life on the Island. We grew things and played games and all that kind of stuff. As kids like, we went swimming and catching fish, it was a good life.
We had plenty to eat on the Island, and we used to go and you cut the trees, oak trees in the river, and you get the cobras out ‐ they’re beautiful! Cobras are a long white thing, like a worm. They taste good, you can eat them raw. They’re really good. Yeah, I love cobra.Lorraine Randall, Maclean Talking Trail Audio
Cobra is bush tucker, a river oyster found in logs in the water.
To get there:
From the Pacific Hwy, take the Yamba Rd exit for Maclean. Turn left (west along the Clarence River) and from the brown sign for Tourist Drive 22, follow Yamba Rd for 3.6km. Parking is available on the right side of the road, the island can be viewed looking down the river. There is no brown sign at this location. The brown sign is 1.4km further along, opposite Woolitji House .
Wheelchair accessible: Yes, with assistance