Aunty Loraine Padgham

Loraine is a respected Elder of the Nira balluk clan of the Taungurung Tribe which was originally located around the area now known as Kilmore. Since her retirement from the tertiary education environment, Loraine has had more time to devote to her interests in cultural heritage and the reawakening of the Taungurung language. This strong interest and application in reviving the Taungurung language has manifested itself through provision of a mechanism that enables the wider community to understand the connection of First Nations people of Australia with the land and provide a different perspective on time and place.

As a Director of Taungurung Land and Waters Council, Loraine is also an advisor to the Victorian Government Placenames Committee, a member of the Melbourne University Indigenous Advisory Committee and the Victorian Aboriginal Remembrance Committee.

Loraine has a firm belief that a deeper understanding of the Taungurung language, culture and heritage will enrich all in our community and provide for a deeper and more meaningful engagement between traditional people and the wider community. The history of the First Nations is part of the history of Australia that belongs to and should be shared by all Australians.

Gukra-u Garringa Bijilal

Bijil’s Bigger Cloak

During the COVID lockdowns Loraine decided that a valuable exercise in the practical application of the knowledge she had been gaining in the Taungurung language would be to write a simple story in the language. This simple beginning was the genesis of a series of children’s books that have been greeted with enthusiasm and support, not just from Taungurung but the broader Australian community. From the original text developed a cartoon strip that was published in the Taungurung newsletter and, with the encouragement of Taungurung, the first book in the series, Bijil ba Wudhi Deberra. The book was published with the support of Murrindindi Shire Council, with kindergartens and primary schools in the shire all receiving a copy. Orders almost immediately started arriving from neighbouring shires for copies and well as from the general public.

Bijil ba Wudhi Deberra means “Bijil and the Moths” and it tells the story of a cultural practice of the Taungurung that goes back thousands of years, namely the harvest of Bogong moths in the high country during summer. It depicts an annual event in the lives of a typical Taungurung family prior to colonisation. Loraine has continued this theme with the subsequent books in the series, each depicting an element of life for Bijil’s family. The books are illustrated by Loraine’s husband, Chris. The objective of the stories, as with the illustrations, is to provide insight into the ordinary lives of the people who lived here and who’s lifestyle remained largely unchanged for 30,000 years until colonisation. Rather than a characterisation as “noble savages” that has been quite prevalent, the objective of the books is to depict a normal family who are kind and care for each other, with relationships, needs and concerns that are universal.

Events at Mansfield Readers and Writers Festival 2023

Taungurung stories

Saturday 4 March 11 am 

Venue: Supper Room at St Mary’s Church Hall 

$25 / $20 concession