SNAKEBIRD: Mysterious Waugal Sightings near Deep Dark Water

By Ken Macintyre and Dr Barb Dobson, research anthropologists and Iva Hayward-Jackson, Nyungah Land & Culture Protector and researcher.  “You know the old people didn’t like to talk about things that they had no control over.” (Hayward-Jackson 2021).  ‘I can remember my childhood feelings of being cautious and even afraid around deep rocky outcrops along … Continued

The Science of the Dark and Light Seasons in Nyungar Culture

By Ken Macintyre and Barb Dobson, Research anthropologists and Iva Hayward-Jackson, Nyungar heritage consultant and Land & Culture Protector ‘Qua, bir-ok, mag-goro warh-rang.’  ‘Yes, three years (summers and winters).’ (Symmons 1841: xiii) Charles Symmons (1841) who was the “Protector of Aborigines” and reasonably fluent in the Nyungar language provides the earliest linguistic reference to the … Continued

Aborigines of the King George Sound Region 1836-1838

Introduction  James Browne’s ‘boyhood’ observations of traditional Aboriginal culture in the remote colonial outpost of King George Sound in southwestern Australia are truly remarkable. His ethnographic sketches and interpretations of aspects of indigenous life give an insight not provided by other recorders of the time. There is very little biographical information available on James Browne.  … Continued

Yam lands: the mystery of a holy landscape

Part 1: The Nyungar yam-flood origin narrative ‘Some of the Mountain Natives give a curious tradition of their first knowledge of the native Yam….. They say, the Earth was at one time covered with water, when one black man and woman found themselves on a rock on the top of a very high Mountain. They … Continued

Roots of contention: Noongar root foods and indigenous plant taxonomy

Identifying root foods to individual Linnaean species is always problematic because the Noongar had their own criteria and means of classifying plant foods which did not match the Linnaean speciation model (Macintyre and Dobson 2017). The Noongar people of southwestern Australia, like other Aboriginal groups throughout Australia, over many thousands of years accumulated a vast … Continued

Healing head massage techniques in Indonesia and Aboriginal Australia

While observing and researching the various healing traditions of Western Lombok in the mid-1990’s, it soon became apparent to me that popot or pungut (head massage) was a fundamental therapeutic technique used in the treatment of many traditional Sasak medical conditions. Popot as it was commonly known was not only used for the relief of … Continued

Ochre: an ancient health-giving cosmetic

Prepared by Ken Macintyre and Barb Dobson Research anthropologists ‘Both sexes smear their faces and the upper part of the body with red pigment (paloil), mixed with grease, which gives them a disagreeable odour. This they do, as they say, for the purpose of keeping themselves clean, and as a defence from the sun or … Continued

Will this ancient succulent herb reveal a medical miracle?

By Ken Macintyre & Barb Dobson, Research anthropologists The Noongar spokesman pointed to the purplish-red fruit of the pigface (Carpobrotus virescens) growing on the dunes at Swanbourne and stated that ‘in summer the ripe fruit of the johnny coolbungs was used just like a salt tablet. It quenched your thirst, gave you energy and was a … Continued

Macrozamia: the fermented oil fruit of southwestern Australia

Aim: The aim of our reconstructive anthropological experiments was to gain an understanding of why Noongar people, unlike other Aboriginal groups in Australia, processed and consumed only the sarcotesta (outer fleshy layer) of Macrozamia discarding the carbohydrate-rich seed (endosperm).  It is our assumption that the sarcotesta was processed for a number of reasons, most importantly … Continued