Aboriginal sites are an important part of the heritage of the whole community

Why does the Western Australian State Government permit a foreign-owned cement company to gradually destroy through hard rock quarrying a portion of the Darling Escarpment adjacent to the popular John Forrest National Park? This quarrying activity is not only destroying pristine vegetation but is slowly desecrating one of Perth’s most ancient and unique Aboriginal site … Continued

Noongar artefacts: evidence of coastal habitation at South Cottesloe

The hammer stone was found in a sand dune in the vicinity of the Vlamingh Memorial. The artefact is made from a fossiliferous sedimentary material (source of stone unknown).  Description: oval shaped, length 100mm, width 80mm, thickness 20mm, weight 450 grams. Colour grey, texture course grained. Pitting and some battering marks at the centre on … Continued

Kudjil the Crow man at Cottesloe

In an earlier paper https://anthropologyfromtheshed.com/project/ethnography-of-mudurup-rocks-in-cottesloe-and-its-connection-to-rottnest-island-wadjemup/we talked briefly about a notorious historical character by the name of Johnny Cudgel whose epic story merged with the pre-existing narrative of the ancestral Crow man at Mudurup (now Cottesloe). In early times the ancestral totemic crow/crowman was the over-arching mythology of the coastal strip at Mudurup.  The traditional belief was that crows (wardung, … Continued

Ochre: an ancient remedy

Indigenous West Australians once used animal fat mixed together with finely ground red ochre wilgi as a treatment for a range of skin infections and wounds. Greasing the skin with a fatty unguent protected the skin from harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun, insulated the body from the cold and deterred biting insects.  When animal fats were … Continued

Typha

  How many of us know that Noongar people of southwestern Australia seasonally harvested one of the most ancient carbohydrates known to humankind that derived from the succulent rhizomes of Typha or the common bulrush found along the margins of rivers, lakes and seasonal wetlands. The Noongar called this food plant yanjet – a term which alludes to … Continued

“Light time” in early Noongar culture

It has often been assumed that traditional Aboriginal people lived in a timeless society. The eternal Dreamtime or Dreaming was understood to encompass the past, present and future.  While this notion of timelessness may be true from a mythological perspective, what often goes unacknowledged is that Aboriginal hunter-gatherers evolved over many thousands of years a … Continued

Acacia gum experiment

As the natural production of Acacia gum can be highly variable depending on climatic conditions and insect predation, we never doubted that indigenous people in southwestern Australia would have artificially wounded gum-producing Acacia to ensure a dependable supply during the gum (“galyang”) season in late spring/ early summer as this was an important food, food additive … Continued

Mapantjara: the desert shaman

Mapantjara is the traditional name of the Western Desert shaman or “Clever Man,” who was commonly referred to as “Mapan” by my indigenous informants at Wiluna in Western Australia. He is reputed to cure illness through his great knowledge of magic and ability to control mystical powers. Not only does he have the ability to … Continued

Walking in the Drummond Nature Reserve

Yesterday we went walking in the Drummond Nature Reserve, northwest of Toodyay.  It was a relaxing day as we walked through bushland of Xanthorrhea (grass tree), she-oak, wandoo, marri and wildflowers. We tried to capture some impressions of the place and the wildlife that we encountered.