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Noongar Knowledge

xmas treeSurvival Skills

Noongar people have survived in the Alkimos area for at least 40,000 years.  They learned which plants are good to eat, when to collect them and how to prepare them.  They studied the movements of animals, learning when and where they could be hunted, and how to capture them. Sources of water were vital to Noongar people and are recorded and valued as part of indigenous mythology and culture.

Spiritual Significance

The sand dune system, limestone areas, stands of Moodja (Christmas Trees), Tuart and Banksia in the Alkimos and Butler areas have spiritual and cultural significance to the Noongar people. 

In particular, Karli Springs, Orchestra Shell Cave, Jindalee and Lake Nowergup are important sites for Noongar people, and are protected.  For further information, you can search the interactive maps on the Department of Aboriginal Affairs website http://www.daa.wa.gov.au/.

Noongar Word List

  • Noongar - The Indigenous people of south-western Australia
  • Wadjuk - Noongar language group from the Perth Metropolitan area
  • Mooro – The group of Noongar people who lived in the Perth area north of the Swan River and east to Ellenbrook when settlers arrived.  A survey conducted by colonist Francis Armstrong in 1836 recorded that there were 28 Mooro people living in the area at that time.

Plants and Animals

  • Gnweeyark - Carnaby's Black-Cockatoo.  Their name, ‘Gnweeyark’, describes their call.
  • Djidee-djidee - Willy Wagtail
  • Piara - Slender Banksia. Noongar people make a sweet drink from the nectar.
  • Moodja – Western Australian Christmas Tree
  • Balga - Grasstree
  • Mindarie - Grasstree leaves
  • Boort - bark of a tree
  • Mia-mia - Shelter made from branches covered with boort or mindarie

Noongar Seasons

  • Birak - Hot dry season (December and January). Banksia flowers were collected for honey.  Moodja flowering, signaling onset of hottest weather. Burning was used to flush animals for hunting and encourage new shoots to grow.
  • Bunuru - Late summer and early Autumn (February and March) The hottest season – people moved to the coast and around lakes to catch frogs, turtles and other reptiles.  Zamia nuts were also collected for soaking.
  • Djeran - Cooler late autumn (April and May) Mia-mia were built and cloaks were made from skins for protection from the cold. Tubers and bulbs were harvested and scrub was burnt to encourage new shoots for the next year.
  • Makuru - Early winter (June and July).  People moved to high ground and sheltered places near the hills. Emus, kangaroos and possums were hunted.
  • Djilba - Late winter and early spring (August and September) Tubers as well as emus, kangaroos and possums were important food sources. Flowering myrtles and other wildflowers signaled the end of the colder weather.
  • Kambarang - time of decreasing rain in spring (October and November) As the warm weather arrived, people hunted waterbirds around the lakes, as well as frogs, turtles and other reptiles.

References

Armstrong, F. (1837). ‘Manners and Habits of the Aborigines of Western Australia, From Information Collected by Mr F Armstrong, Interpreter, 1836’, in Green, N J (ed) (1979), Nyungar, the People: Aboriginal Customs in the Southwest of Australia, Creative Research Publishers, Perth, pp 181-206.

City of Joondalup, (2011). People and Plants in Mooro Country. Nyungar Plant use in Yellagonga Regional Park.  City of Joondalup, 2011.

Department of Aboriginal Affairs website: http://www.daa.wa.gov.au/.