It has been said that the earliest people to live in the area of where Cootamundra is now situated are the Wiradjuri people. The name Cootamundra is thought to of derived from the Aboriginal name for Turtle known as “guudhamang”.
Wiradjuri people are a group of Indigenous Australian people that are united by a common language, kingship and survived as very skilled hunters, fishers and gathers within their family groups or clans. The area of which the Wiradjuri people are located is scattered throughout central New South Wales, with the tribe/clan located at Cootamundra known as a smaller group in the region.
The name Wiradjuri itself derives from the Aboriginal context meaning “no” or “not”, with the suffix -dhuurray or -juuray meaning "having".
The Wiradjuri Tribe is the largest Aboriginal group in New South Wales and once occupied a very vast area of central New South Wales, on the plains spreading north to south and to the west end of the Blue Mountains. This area was known to the tribe as “the land of the three rivers”, the Wambool (Macquarie River), the Kalare (Lachlan River) and the Murrumbidjeri (Murrumbidgee River).
Cootamundra District Training Home for Aboriginal Girls:
The Cootamundra Domestic Training Home for Aboriginal Girls (also known as Bimbadeen), is located north east of the town of Cootamundra. The centre was operated and run by the New South Wales Aborigines Welfare Board from the times between 1911 to 1968 to provide training to girls ‘forcibly’ taken from their families under the Aborigines Protection Act (1909). These girls were apart of the Stolen Generations, and were not allowed any contact with their families, being trained to work as domestic servants.
the building that housed these girls was later taken over by the Aboriginal Evangelical Fellowship as a Christian vocational, cultural and agricultural training centre which was then called Bimbadeen College. Th centre/college was added to the New South Wales Heritage Register on the 17th of February 2012.
Girls were sent to this college to the age of 14, and then they were sent out to work. Many of these young girls became pregnant while in domestic service, only to have their children in turn removed and brought back to the same college, Bimbadeen or Bomaderry.
Prior to the operation of the Cootamundra Domestic Training Home for Aboriginal Girls, it was the First Cootamundra Hospital, which opened in 1889, set on the same 35 acres. to construct the buildings, it took 5 years of fundraising and was then designed by government architects, Morell and Kemp of Sydney.
The original plan had the main brick building completed surrounded by a veranda, with a separate kitchen to the north. In the centre of this building was the large ward, which later became the older girls’ dormitory. In 1910 the Cootamundra Hospital moved to a new, more central location in town and the old hospital on the hill was closed, with the Bimbadeen College opening a year later.