Some of the place names in the Singleton area give a nod to the region’s Indigenous heritage, which stretches back tens of thousands of years.
Singleton sits on the traditional lands of the Wonnarua people.
While the number of Indigenous people in the area declined significantly after the arrival of Europeans, Singleton itself became a focal point for the local Wonnarua population.
Despite the challenges faced by the Wonnarua since European settlement, the local population continues to foster a strong sense of culture and identity through the Wonnarua Nation Aboriginal Corporation.
Some of the place names of our region have their origins in Wonnarua and other Indigenous languages and help tell the story of the Singleton area.
The tiny village of Bulga (and the nearby Bulga Mountain) is believed to derive its name from the word for mountain – “palkarr” – of the local Hunter River–Lake Macquarie language group.
From Bulga, head further along the Putty Rd past Milbrodale and you’ll come to Baiame Cave. Located on private land, the cave houses important Indigenous rock art.
The Wonnarua have a dreamtime story about the creator Baiame, the Great Spirit or Father of All, who created the rivers, hills and plains of the Hunter Valley, as well as all living things in the region.
The cave houses an extraordinary painting of Baiame, believed to be around 4000 years old, whose arms stretch across the roof of the cave. The cave was heritage listed in 2017 and is of great cultural significance to the local Indigenous people.
A half-hour drive north-east of Singleton brings you to the rolling hills and rural tranquility of Mirannie. The name means “camp” in the local Indigenous dialect, and while the reason for this place name is now lost, it’s likely it referred to an area where the Wonnarua lived.
Just out past Warkworth is Comleroi Rd. The road leads to a huge district which was once called Comleroi (also spelled Comleroy and Kamilaroi), which stretched from Jerrys Plains and took in Warkworth and Denman, up to Muswellbrook.
John Howe, whose exploration party reached Singleton in 1820, recorded in a journal entry dated 4 November 1819 the Indigenous name for the plains of the Hunter Valley: “Coomery Roy”. The area was also mentioned under the name “Cumnaroy” in five letters printed in The Australian across August and September 1827.
Despite these and other mentions of Comleroi, there appears to be no record of what the phrase means, but it’s nonetheless remembered in Comleroi Rd.
When John Howe and Benjamin Singleton set out from Windsor on their journey north, their expedition party included a number of other men. Myles and Mullaboy, brothers and Indigenous trackers, were among them and their presence was vital in the founding of our town – it’s acknowledged that without them, the party would never have reached the Hunter Valley.
Mullaboy’s role is commemorated in the naming of Mullaboy Place, in Singleton Heights.
If you’d like to learn more, the Wonnarua Language & Culture Archive has more on the history of our region’s Indigenous people.