It was a gorgeous morning at Point Peron as 25 people joined Perth NRM for a walk to learn about the Noongar season of Birak – the first summer.
The youngest participant was just 3 years old with the eldest participant in her 80s! Everyone was ready to learn about how the Noongar people lived on the coast during the hot months. Elder Marie Taylor and her daughter Chelsea welcomed the group and taught them how to introduce themselves to the Wagyl, by rubbing sweat into a handful of sand and throwing it into the ocean while calling “Kaya!” (hello).
During the walk we learned how to make a sweet cordial from the flowers of the Chenille Honeymyrtle (Melaleuca huegelii) and how the seeds of the Wilyawa (Red-eyed Wattle) were used to make damper while the green pods can produce a natural, nourishing soap. We learned about the lore that stopped the Noongar people from venturing into ocean waters that were deeper than their knees and why they didn’t camp on the beaches or the banks of wetlands.
Elder Marie shared stories of how vibrant the ocean was, with kwilena (dolphins), mammang (whales), booyi (turtles), and maadjit (sharks) in plentiful numbers and often travelling very close to the shore. She spoke of how the sea creatures moved further away when more humans began to live on the coast and her curiosity as to why they’re coming closer again in greater numbers once more.
During the walk we ventured down to the beach and discussed what the limestone cliffs and caves meant to the Noongar people, found a variety of freshly washed up seagrasses, corals, and crustacean shells. After returning to the car park, everyone shared a morning tea of fresh WA nectarines and a delicious lemon myrtle cake from Bindi Bindi Dreaming.
This walk was part of the Perth NRM Six Season Walks series and the Coastwest program, supported by the Department of Planning, Lands, and Heritage. Our thanks to Elder Marie and Chelsea for sharing with us their knowledge and making it a truly magical morning.
If you have a child of primary school age and would like to give them the opportunity to experience the Noongar Six Seasons, then check out Celebrate BIRAK – a Noongar inspired school holiday activity. Happening in Cottesloe on 22 January 2019. This activity will incorporate stories, artefacts, Noongar language, beach bushtucker, and painting. Check it out at perthnrm.com/events or email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.