Nhunda People

Nanda Map

The Nhunda people still belong to the area where the Zuytdorp landed. There is strong evidence that they helped the survivors and integrated them into their lifestyle. Their territory was much smaller than those of the surrounding tribes which may be due to being on the coast where fish was readily caught. The Malkana to the north is also smaller, perhaps for the same reason. There seemed to be a lot of interaction by the two tribes.  

On the other hand, the Nhunda learned to grow crops making them less dependent on the nomadic lifestyle.  This may account for the Nhunda (Nhanta) land area being much smaller.  

Yams were grown in a wide area, petering out further south. (See map)  They could be eaten raw and were reputed to have some medicinal qualities as well.


There is also a possibility that they tended animals such as pigs and goats, and perhaps a chook or two, for these too were carried on the ship.  There are still large numbers of goats in evidence in the district.


The Boer Goat in particular may descend from that era. This species was bred for meat at the Cape of Good Hope.  On board, they were a source of fresh meat. Goats were also favoured because they were quite nimble, which in a rough sea was of benefit.  Larger cattle on the other hand were more likely to get injured under rough circumstances.


More importantly, many of the Nhunda people believe that the descend from the Dutch.  It is unfortunate that Aborigines did not record their history.  

Therefore we need to rely on circumstantial and anecdotal evidence to a large degree.  Nevertheless, we now know that the Murchison district was not open to settlers until 1850.  So to all intends and purposes it was devoid of white man for 138 years, almost six generations.

Alice McMurray 1875

It is now known that some Aborigine women were born in the latter part of the 138 year timespan.  From photos it appears that there are European features in evidence.

Data from records  shows that many Aboriginal women lived well 'beyond their three score and ten'

Two convicts, Charles Mallard and Thomas Drage arrived in the mid 1850's.  It appears from stories told that Charles, who married a woman named Sarah Feast was considered as having European ancestors.

Thomas Drage on the other hand married an English girl and it wasn't until their son Thomas Amos married an Aborigine girl that one branch of the Drage family became of mixed race.

To many local white people it is a foregone conclusion that when a ship of the Zuytdorp size with 286 people on board, with a proven number of survivors, that contact of only a few with the natives would result in progeny.  


The final proof of whether this is true will be shown in the forthcoming DNA results.  Even if one or two donors are shown to have ancestry relating to the ship, the needle in the haystack will have been found.

Whatever the case, the Nhunda are our fellow Australians and they deserve the right, and our respect as being the Traditional Owners.

Footnote:  Did you know that Aboriginal men fought alongside our Diggers, in wars like the Boer Wars, WWI and WWII, in Korea and Vietnam?  

Does it surprise you that they are still not included in the Australian constitution

                          Webmaster T.J. Vanderveldt ©   Email: tjv@iinet.net.au