Anastasis – from Ancient Greek ἀνάστασις (anástasis, “resurrection”).
A funny name for a blog post about Lake Seppings in Albany, Western Australia, but it does describe what happened.
Way back in the Nyittiny (creation times) the spirit Djrat walked on the earth and created south coast of Western Australia and as he walked he left a footprint which filled with water and created a freshwater lake 1.1 Km long and 400m wide. The Minang group of the Nyoongar called this place Tjuirtgellong or “place of the long necked turtle” which was an important food source for them in the summer months. The lake was surrounded by a variety of vegetation. Fringing the lake are bullrushes, sedges, and reeds reeds. Further back were Western Australian peppermint trees, spearwoods, paperbarks, native willows, wattles, banksias and melaleuca. All this provided habitatfor over 100 different bird species including Australian white ibis, yellow-billed spoonbil,white-faced heron, blue-billed duck, musk duck, black swan, hoary-headed grebe, Australian pelican, Eurasian coot, spotless crake, masked lapwing, dusky moorhen, purple swamphen and buff-banded rail.
All was fine and dandy until 1790 when the British explorer George Vancouver arrived. While he was mapping King George Sound he didn’t see any Minang but saw plenty of evidence that they were around and he later wrote that he found a ‘native village; fresh food remains near a well-constructed hut; a kangaroo that had apparently been killed with a blow to the head; a fish weir across what is now called the Kalgan River; and what appeared to be systematic firing of the land.’ (R. Appleyard. ‘ Vancouver’s Discovery and Exploration of King George’s Sound’ in Early Days, Journal and Proceedings of the Western Australian Historical Society, 1986, pp.86-97). That was the start of colonial settlement. As far as the lake is concerned well initially the settlers tried to do the right thing and in 1887 the Albany Municipal Council applied to the state government for permission to make the Lake and some of its surrounding bushland a botanical park. This lasted up until 1900 when it became a rubbish dump for the city of Albany. This sad state continued until 1972 when it was decided by the department of fisheries and fauna to turn the lake into a water fowl reserve.Very quickly the community got on board with initially a bird-walk being established by the Apex club of Albany in 1980. By 2004 a walk around the lake had been completed and the lake was given protected status. In 2018 there was a ‘community planting’ of some 22,000 trees and understory plants to provide a ‘biodiversity corridor’ and habitat for endangered wildlife such as the western ring tailed possum.
Every time we go to Albany I always visit Lake Seppings. I love walking around the edge of the lake and observing all the wildlife. I see it in many ways as a beacon of hope. The local community came together and have made a serious and worthwhile attempt to restore the lake to what it once was it still has a long way to go before it reaches its former status but it is a very good start. For the Nyoongar I hope that the recent claim for compensation for the loss of their traditional lands succeeds and can bring them some way of moving forward.
Willy Wagtails or Djidi Djidi as the Nyoongar call them can be found throughout the Australian bush. They are perhaps the most common bird in Western Australia. White fellas think of them as comical bossy little birds that will swoop larger animals and people in an effort to shoo them out of their territory. This is the Nyoongar story of how they came into being.
A long time ago there was a lazy old man called Wardong. Wardong was given the job of looking after the children while everyone went hunting. Wardong would lie in the shade under a tree and shout at the children to get them to bring him food and drink. Now the children got pretty fed up with being bossed around by Wardong, and being mischievous they decided to get their own back. So while the old man was sleeping the djidi djidi (mischievous ones) they took his food away and then began to run round and round him tormenting him. This made Wardong really mad, and the madder he got the more the djidi djidi tormented him. Suddenly he couldn’t take any more and he did some magic and turned all the little children into little birds. With that Wardong went back to his tree, lay down and went to sleep with a big smile on his face. When everybody returned from hunting that evening they asked Wardong where all the children were. The children seeing their parents and grand parents started flying around and crying asking to be turned back, but there was nothing that could be done. The elders were furious and called Wardong a lazy good for nothing scavenger. One of them went even further and said “Wardong you will be a scavenger for the rest of your life!” And with that he turned Old Wardong into a crow. Wardong is the Nyoongar name for crows. Now if you go into the bush you will see that the djidi djidi can’t stand to have wardong anywhere near them and when they see him they fly round and round his head tormenting him until he goes away.