50 Years Service Coonabarabran Rotary Club (Mary Cain) Print Page Print this page

Mary Cain plaque : July 2014
Mary Cain plaque : July 2014

Photographs supplied by Peter F Williams / Roger Johnson
The plaque erected to indigenous matriach Mary Cain located near the Mary Cain bridge marks 50 years of service to the community by Coonabarabran Rotary Club.


Address:John & Essex Streets, Nielson Park , Coonabarabran , 2357
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -31.271935
Long: 149.276629
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Plaque
Monument Theme:Culture
Approx. Event Start Date:1949
Approx. Event End Date:1999


Approx. Monument Dedication Date:1999
Front Inscription

Mary Jane Cain
1844 - 1929

Mary Jane Cain was the dedicated and respected matriach of the Aboriginal Community of the Coonabarabran area.
In the late 1880s Mary Jane single handedly established Burra Bee Dee, a self contained settlement for displaced Aboriginal people, at Forky Mountain about 9km east of Coonabarabran.

Legend has it that Burra Bee Dee came about due to straying goats. Tired of herding her flock of goats back to her home near town from Forky Mountain each day, Mary Jane and husband George built a home at Forky Mountain and the whole family were settled there by 1885. Over the next 10 years or so, as more Aboriginals were dispossessed throughout the district, they settled at Burra Bee Dee.

Unimpressed that no Government reserve or mission for the  "protection"  of the Aboriginal people had been established at Coonabarabran, though there were others in other districts, Mary Jane travelled to Sydney to lobby the politicians. In this Victorian age it was a remarkable thing for a woman to have the audacity to confront the law-makers - but for an Aboriginal woman to do so was unheard of!

Her persistence was rewarded in 1892 with the gazettal of Forky Mountain as a an Aboriginal Reserve and from that time on Burra Bee Dee became an important place in Gamilaroi history; it was their land with Mary Jane to ensure it remained secure.  The settlement has since been abandoned (the school closed in 1953) and most residents now live in Coonabarabran. Burra Bee Dee remains an important place in Gamilaroi history - a testament to the strength and dedication of Mary Jane.

Erected by Coonabarabran Rotary Club to mark 50 years of service to the community


Source: MA
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au