A Merningar Bardok family’s Noongar oral history of Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve and surrounds

Lynette Knapp, Dion Cummings, Shandell Cummings, Peggy L. Fiedler, Stephen Hopper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Web of Science)


Warning: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers should be aware that this document may contain sensitive information, images or names of people who have since passed away.

Context. Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve on Western Australia’s south coast is world renowned for its biodiversity, particularly its threatened fauna. Future co-management of the Reserve with Aboriginal peoples is likely, although very little information on the Noongar cultural heritage of the Reserve has been published and thus available for stewardship guidance. Methods. This study used oral history interviews on Country based on open-ended questioning and respect for intellectual property. Comprehensive surveys for Noongar cultural heritage were conducted on foot on the Reserve. Key results. A rich trove of women’s and men’s stories from the Knapp family about Two Peoples Bay is recalled and recorded. The Reserve features prominently in Wiernyert/Dreaming stories with classical human moral dilemmas, and transformations for wrong-doing are featured. Threatened animals and important plants are named as borongur/ totems. Trading of gidj/spears of Taxandria juniperina is prominent. Use of fire traditionally was circumspect, and is confined to small areas and pathways in lowlands. Granite rocks are replete with lizard traps, standing stones, and stone arrangements. Conclusions. The Reserve has a long and layered oral history for Merningar Bardok Noongars, exemplified here by the Knapp family, members of which have enjoyed continuous oral history for countless generations. Granite rocks, wetlands, flora, and fauna are vitally important vessels of such knowledge. Implications. Cultural suppression has inhibited free cross-cultural exchange of kaatidjin/knowledge until recently. As respect for culture and Elders becomes paramount, positive co-stewardship of the Reserve will become a reality. Vibrant cultural interpretation and active management by Noongar guides and rangers is recommended.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPacific Conservation Biology
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Apr 2024


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