Note: this site contains images of aboriginal people now deceased
Rainforest Shelters of the Ngadjon
Photo courtesy Eacham Historical Society
The Ngadjonji moved about from camp to camp within their territory
according to where food was plentiful in each season. In their camps they
constructed snug rainproof shelters (mija) or repaired ones which were
there from their last stay. The photo (above) was taken in Malanda in the
1930's and shows a group of Ngadjonji in front of three well-constructed
Photo courtesy Cairns Historical Society
The early photograph shows a mija during construction. (For a higher
resolution version of this photograph click
here) The main frame usually consisted of sturdy lengths of jungganyu
bent over and stuck in the ground at each end to form a series of arches.
Horizontal crosspieces were then woven between these arches and tied in
place with barrga
ties. The mija was then thatched with suitable leaves (jungganyu
were particularly favoured) to form the rain- and wind-proof cover.
The Ngadjonji also made blankets (badugi)
from the inner bark of certain fig trees (gabi
which could be wrapped around the body for warmth on cold winter nights. A
strip of bark was cut from the tree, the outer layers removed and the
moist supple inner layer beaten out over a broad tree root to soften the
fibres and spread out the blanket. The blankets were often decorated with
In the wet season the Ngadjon lived in large huts up to 9m long and 3m
high and and fed on rainforest nuts harvested earlier and stored
under damp climate controlled conditions - enough food to feed maybe
30 people for three or four months.
Food preparation for some nuts(being toxic) was complex and could begin as
much as 4 days before the food was to be consumed.