Traditional ceremonies launch new cultural display
Traditional dancers perform at a new Noongar cultural display at Redbank Pool ‒ a significant meeting place for local Aboriginal families 200 years ago.
A NEW interpretive display showing how traditional Aboriginal people used a permanent waterhole near Toodyay as an important cultural site for food and family gatherings was officially launched at Redbank Pool earlier this month.
The Noongar Kaartdijin Aboriginal Corporation (NKAC) project celebrates how local Noongar families, especially Ballardong and Yued members, congregated at Redbank Pool 200 years ago.Read more
Noongar cultural adviser Rodney Garlett (above) led a traditional smoking ceremony to cleanse spirit, body and soul after traditional custodians and ancestors were respected in a traditional Welcome To Country in local language by Toodyay’s Sharmaine Miles.
A State-funded permanent display of Gnulla Moort (our family) interpretive art was unveiled by Noongar Elder Aunty Pat Davis and local Labor MP Darren West after an address by WA Planning, Land and Heritage Department Director General Gail McGowan.
Redbank Pool is about 900m downstream from Extracts Weir and is overlooked by the John Masters Bird Hide on the Bilya Walk Track which follows the Avon River from Toodyay Caravan Park to Nardie Cemetery.
The waterhole is registered as an Aboriginal heritage site.
At this month’s Redbank Pool cultural display unveiling ceremony (from left) Aunty Pat Davis, local MP Darren West, Iris Guilmartin, Rodney Garlett and Robert Miles. The permanent display was designed by Herald volunteer Sandra Harms.
“I feel proud that this Noongar site interpretative art can now be enjoyed by all visitors,” NKAC Chairperson Robert Miles (above) said.
“It will be a lovely surprise for people walking along the Bilya Walk Track.”
Traditional Noongar families were regular visitors to the permanent waterhole in pre-colonial times according to the availability of local bush food that could be gathered and hunted across the Avon Valley’s six bonar (annual seasons).
Their diet included kangaroos, possums, ducks, turtles, fish, frogs and jilgies (small freshwater crayfish), and grasses and seeds for grinding into flour and medicinal use.
After food gathering, cooking and daytime cultural activities, small extended family groups would move back to a main camp a safe distance from the pool.
Redbank is also a significant Waugal (serpent snake) mythological site.
The Toodyay Valley has spiritual importance as a course travelled by the Waugal when making its way from Bolgart along various waterways, including Toodyay Brook and Redbank Pool, to Northam’s Burlong Pool during the hottest seasons of Birak and Bunuru.
The Gya Ngoop Keeninyara Dancers (pronounced Jaa-ngoop, meaning one or first blood) performed a cultural dance for invited guests after the opening speeches.
The Kobori (or Keeninyarra) is part of an ancient dance authentic to this area and was led by Trevor Stack.
NKAC Heritage Project Coordinator, Helen Shanks said the group was planning its next Noongar interpretive project “Gnulla Boodja, our country” at Pelham Reserve, overlooking the Toodyay townsite.