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The Nyul Nyul Community

Such a big word. We belong to many over a lifetime, some we stay in forever, others are shorter lived, but being a part of a greater collective is inherent in who we are.

We are so lucky to have such a connection to the Nyul Nyul community up in The Kimberleys who harvest the Gubinge, which we then dehydrate and grind down into a powder. Their connection to the land is palpable with such rich history and care still carried forward today. Something that needs to be respected, treasured, and protected.

Below is a piece capturing an evening in The Kimberley, we hope that by sharing it, you will get a taste of what life in this harsh but beautiful part of the land is like.

“The last of vibrant yellow flowers cling stubbornly to wattle branches, full bloom now lost to the ground, relics bold exhibiting past splendour.

It is August and the battle of the South and East winds cool short days, ruffling the landscape and all that it resides. A lone hawk underestimating a gust of air, abandons typically graceful navigation. Clumsily retreating, it is now perched high on an old white gum branch, preening itself clean of the disorder. Clearly unimpressed at being caught out.

The coming of strong winds completes our traditional burning for the year. Most of the day is now spent on widening existing fire breaks by cleaning up any potential bushfire fuel. Forests of old dead trees are collected and piled in bare areas, away from existing bush. Wood lies thick in protest from lack of use and it is evident how necessary continuation of people living on the land is for a healthy environment.

Kimberley Night[2]-L1

Bushfire is one of our biggest challenges in the Kimberley, the threat looms as weather warms and holds firm until the first rains of the wet season soak the earth. Sadly much of the Dampier Peninsular burns each year. This sort of destruction is devastating and over the years has become evident in the changed landscape. We have unfortunately lost a lot.
Twin Lakes is actively caring for the land, this being the foundation of the park, it is at the centre and remains the most important aspect of what we do. It is the essence of preserving country and culture, and is essential. As said by Bruno Dann “Looking after what looks after us”.

Reaching, lending itself back around the globe, the sun now shows us its last effort. Stretched shadows have melded into a luminous blue hue. Fresh, cool air descends quickly, sharpening the fragrance of the bush and breathing this in, clean and sweet, is knowing heaven. An ambitious half moon has risen hours earlier in the day, now having reached its peak in the sky it is set to slowly follow the suns descent. We wander back to camp, a torch is not needed, there is enough of a glow on this night.
The fire flickers contently having done its job of cooking the evening meal, soft light dances across satisfied faces. Full and content it is time for bed, however not before a steaming cup of Jilungin Tea. Bruno speaks into the silence, commanding an audience in a least intrusive tone.

‘A lot has changed...There were things put on this Earth before we came along. It is our turn now, we have done a lot of damage.... We have a lot to answer for.'

Bruno clicks his tongue. Slowly and solemnly shaking his head, there is an obvious sadness in his manner. Lost in a distant gaze Bruno continues.

‘Before in the olden days food was plenty...Everywhere. The bush were our garden. Tucker was plenty, everywhere in those days..... No one was hungry....We had so much...So much’

He looks over directly engaging with a mesmerised audience and we are waiting captivated for Bruno to continue.

Bruno Dann[1]-blog

‘The lakes Gunmamirrd and Goolyarook ,  were here a long time before we were here...... Two big rocks came down from the sky.....See.... Twins one boy and one girl.....They match the twins on the other side of Beagle Bay, they are also called Gunmamirrd and Goolyarook and not many people know that..... They said you (people) look after those twins and you (people) look after those twins and that was that.... See.... The lakes were much, much deeper then.... The banks were higher up, this is where everyone would sit...Lots of fires... So many people all around.... You couldn’t imagine it...Making artefacts. It was beautiful in those days.....Dancing and singing.....The young girls and boys come out first, teens come next.... Then the older ones, they have the power, our idols, our movie stars.....They dance out the night till day break’

It is always a treat listening to Bruno’s stories. Transported, luckily shown a peek at the old world.

‘Now here we are’

Open hands, he says this last bit with a slight smirk and looking around I can see why. We are just a small portion of people caring for the land .Nyul Nyul once being one of the largest tribes on the Dampier Peninsular easily managed the land respectfully. Intricately balanced and maintained by their deep understanding of the country, consequently under their watch it remained abundant for thousands of years.
Bruno continues with certainty and conviction in his voice.

‘This is in our culture how we think of it....This is for everyone to share, we can’t be here forever on this Earth...Pass on what you have, what you know... Like that and everyone will have their time. We are put here to look after this place, we have to take care of it for the next ones coming through, give it to them how we found it, it is our responsibility.’
‘You can be a big shot here but you can’t be a big shot on the other side...we are all a part of the great creators  creation, we all have a purpose and when that purpose is finished we move on.... and that is how we see it, in our culture.’

Bruno in the Kimberleys 940x440

Looking at Bruno he unarguably belongs to this country, a true custodian, with gracious strength in his knowledge and love of the land. The starry Kimberley sky assembles close and looking in to this infinite dimension, mesmerises, right here the past becomes the present in a fusion of time. One more productive day and there is a certain sense of accomplishment that is reached from protecting this land, clarity, subtle rewards, of feeling purposeful and to sleep well.

‘It doesn’t matter what sort of man you are.... big and strong...nothing like that. It is ...what sort of heart you’ve got and what sort of feeling you have for what you’ve got.’

Bruno Dann, Nyul Nyul
– Traditional owner –

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