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Where the Youran (bobtail lizard) meets the Nyingarn (echidna)


We were invited to the smoking ceremony of the completion of the Canning river bridge representing a link between two traditionals tribes, (the Beeliar people and the Beeloo people). "Djarlgarra" is the local Aboriginal Nyoongar name for the Canning river, (part of the vast Swan catchment river system of Perth in Western Australia) and signifies a place of abundance. The area is a significant Aboriginal site where a complex ecosystem provided livelihood and cultural meaning to the original Nyoongar people. It borders the boundaries of the Beeloo and Beeliar clan which looks after the land north and south of the river respectively. It is also where Europeans chose to settle in 1829.

Naming the bridge Djarlgarra acknowledges the great importance of the river and its surrounds to the Nyoongar people and the Aboriginal community as a whole. This process has succesfully brought together Aboriginal and European culture.

The smoking ceremony, celebrated by Patrick Hume from the Metropolitan Council of Nyoongar Elders, is part of the Nyoongar tradition and culture. Smoke from Balga (grass tree), Wattle and other native plants takes away the bad spirits. It cleanses and heals when you walk through it.

The two following sculptures by artists Sandra Hill and Tony Pankiw are part of six interpretive signs arranged according to the six seasons traditionally recognised by the Nyoongar people. These seasons show the nuances of local Nyoongar culture and the indigenous people's keen observation of the environment.

Youran, (bobtail lizard). Artists Sandra Hill & Tony PankiwNyingarn or Nynarrin, (Echidna). Artists Sandra Hill & Tony Pankiw.
Youran (bobtail lizard, pictured left), totem animal for the Beeliar people, finds sanctuary weaving its way through the leaf litter gathered alongside a fallen tree trunk.
Nyingarn (echidna, pictured right), totem animal for the Beeloo people, follows the ant trail, shuffling amongst the gathered leaf litter along a fallen tree trunk.


Acknowledgements:  Main Roads Western-Australia. Metropolitan Nyoongar Council of Elders. Artists and consultants. � 2003

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