Here we are continuing a series in collaboration with Surfing World Magazine. Everyone will tell a story of the country, from a place we cherish as surfer heartland, from a time long before we learned to surf. We hope these will help us better understand our surfing home. This tells a story of the desert coast of South Australia that stretches across the coast that we call the Great Australian Bight.
Words of Uncle Bunna Lawrie, as said Jock Serong
I am a Mirning elder, an ambassador from my tribe. I learned what I know from my mother and father and grandparents. The Mirning are sailors: there are thirty-five clans of us from the Israelite Bay to the west, past Eucla and the Head of Bight (mirranangu, where people joined in rituals with the whales) in a large sweeping sweep to Streaky Bay in the east. The word Mirning itself carries all sorts of meanings. It means listening, learning, understanding and observing what leads to wisdom and knowledge. All elements in nature here are very sacred to us.
Our totem is the sea, that billia. We consider it the Father, because everything lives in the sea and the sea feeds everything: the whales, seals, dolphins (wandjala) and penguins (jilia). We have names for all fish in the sea. The beach is that to warn, the earth is the yoolla, or mother, and the great ocean in its entirety is called that mocalbar. The sea sends the rain, the clouds rise from him, like his son, and the rain makes the place fertile and gives us water to drink. Wiribi is the water that flows from the rain, from the land and back into the sea. It fills the earth.
Warrndar is the wave and it is also the word for hill, a hill that the Father sends to travel along the water as a purifying, clearing thing and as a toy for the creatures. The wave comes in the shallow water and the beach, a place we the. to name to warn. The top foam on the shaft that we call djalyjiand when it is driven inland and it dries up, it produces the salt in the ground.
The great white whale jeedara, he’s the master – he screwed that up djalyji in flint on the land we call Jaljar. We used it as currency, as something to trade in. the Yaum are the great divers – they had little canoes and they went fishing and they dived to get the seaweed and seaweed they name binyidierr. There are certain good ones to eat: we put it in the guts of the fish – maybe a butterfish or snapper before we cook it. We put the fish on a pointed stick from a mallee tree with the seaweed and some bush herbs in the intestine, some wild potatoes or wild beet.
Mirning land and traditions Admire the caves of the Nullarbor Plain, the bay’s massive Bunda cliffs, and all of the creatures in the waters below. All of this is subject to an elaborate system of laws called goonminyerra, emphasize balance and harmony. The connection between man and land is so old that it lies deep under the Southern Ocean as a result of glacier retreats: We are a people that is older than a geological age. For this reason, the Mirning people have been the focus of the campaign in recent years to keep deep-sea oil exploration out of the bay.
Later comers added their own languages ââto this coast: the Dutch called it Landt van Pieter Nuyts and the English called it Fowler’s Bay. It was Matthew Flinders who took away the real name for the place yerrlarda, and used a rough approximation, ‘Yalata’. There’s a great whale story just around the corner from yerrlarda, a connection to the epic Seven Sisters songlines, which refer to the stars in the night sky (the Pleiades) and capture parts of the Australian desert. Noel Pearson has compared the Songlines of Central Australia to the Odyssey that Iliad, and the Book of Genesis – Australia’s own book of Genesis. At this point, the Seven Sisters Songline refers to jeedara impregnated all seven sisters and created the massive cliffs.
Mirning people always extended their reception, right? wenyo, on their coast. They are kind and caring people, but their generosity has not always been reciprocated. They have no use from the roads, the trucks, the caravans and all the tourists. The Mirning are currently trying to protect the world heritage over the coast of the bay.
More information: https://mirning.org
* Please note that the words used here are protected Mirning language.
Welcome to the Country Series: Dirrangun of Clarence
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