Dryandra On Country on Wilman Nyoongar Boodja (Bunuru 2023)
In March, an On Country event was held on Wilman Nyoongar Boodja with staff from the Office of the Chief Psychiatrist (OCP) and the Mental Health Advocacy Service (MHAS), as part of the Kaatadjiny Waalbraniny Danjoo (Learning to Heal Together) Project. We were guided by Elders; Aunty Cheryl Phillips and her family, and Uncle Peter and Aunty Sandra.
We spent a night out at the Lions Dryandra Woodland village and spent time travelling around the area learning about Nyoongar Culture and Country. Some activities included:
Listening to Aunty Cheryl’s nephews, Mr Ross Storey and Mr Tony Culbong, Traditional Custodians of Wilman Boodja, as they spoke about being on Country and Nyoongar Culture. They shared knowledge about local bush tucker, the Nyoongar six seasons, the plants and animals in the region, how Nyoongar people traditionally lived on the land and how they continue to practise Culture today. Attendees were able to experience spear and boomerang throwing and explore a mia-mia (a shelter made from bush materials) and other tools and implements made and used by Nyoongar people.
- Went to the Narrogin bakery for lunch.
- Experienced Yilliminning Rock, led by Ross we walked up the rock and listened to the stories and about cultural significance of the site.
Aunty Cheryl and her brother, Uncle Gary Culbong, made kangaroo stew, damper and custard for dinner, while attendees pitched in to prepare the BBQ dinner. The evening meal was spent sitting in a circle around the campfire, where the Elders and Ross shared stories and played the didgeridoo.
After dinner, a number of the attendees explored the bush trails surrounding the campsite and searched for native nocturnal animals, such as kumul (possums).
- In the morning, we watched the yongas (kangaroos) and listened to Uncle Peter and Aunty Sandra’s storytelling. The power of Country was evident when a nyingarn (echidna) appeared just at the right time during Uncle Peter’s yarn!
The experience helped move both OCP and MHAS towards a head (kaart) to heart (koort) understanding of Aboriginal Cultures and histories.
The Elders, Community members and their families were similarly moved by the experience and were proud to see non-Aboriginal people respectfully engaging in and appreciating their knowledge, Culture and Country.