Kombumerri Traditional Custodian Contributor: Justine Dillon

This resource is related to the following Learning Areas –

And responds to the following Enquiry Questions –

Q26.What were the spirits and gods significant to the Kombumerri people?
Q32.How weather events are described in Indigenous culture?
Q34.Did Indigenous people predict the weather and organise their lives according to the conditions? E.g. Wet season, food availability.

Resource transcript –

I think it goes back to that flora and fauna relationship as well as telling from the elements. Looking at the Sun, the Moon, the wind, everything they could tell to capture what was going on. We had indicators of certain… like the flora things. I don’t know if that aligns but we’d be going fishing and we’d always look at the Acacias, the orange and yellow. So, the orange when they were flowering, to us it means the mullet’s running, time to go hunt the mullet. The yellow means the whiting’s running. And there’s certain things flowering, tea trees and that, that mean different things to people in our tribe. Mine’s… I come from a fisherman’s family, a mixture of Quandamooka and coastal fishermen. All the men in our line are professional fishermen. So, we use… I know a lot of those signs around country. We’ve had a lot of fear put in to us about the storms from our Elders, like my great-great-grandmother, nanna Vera, used to make us hide under the table or the bed every time a moogerah was coming, a storm. That’s what we call… moogerah. So, yeah, we’d… you feel the temperature, the pressure drop was the first thing that we would feel and nanna and my mum would be like, go and open a window up, turn everything off at the wall. No electrical stuff. Make sure there’s a window or a door open to let that pressure come through because they had this misconception that if we closed it all up the roof would pop off their house. They all grew up in weatherboard houses, so, I guess that fear was still there. And, the hiding under the tables and cupboards and chairs and that was again, growing up in weatherboard homes and I guess outdoors as well when they would have camps and being exposed to elements. It was just get the kids protected first, kind of thing. Just trying to think… We always, me and my daughter, we’re very fond… we smell the rain coming which is nice thing and it’s refreshing. We’re, aw, (sniffs). You smell that? And everyone’s going, what? And like, the rain’s coming. And they’re like how can you smell that and I’m like, I don’t know, I just… I can feel it, I can smell it, I feel the pressure drop, I smell the water coming and… I don’t know. I think it’s like nature around us, everything, is kind of letting us know there’s rain coming and I’ve had a few people approach me lately with our drought conditions. You know, what do the Kombumerri do? And it took me a bit to remember and I had a flashback to when I was 17, around my birthday time, this time of year and we had a drought back then, when we first instilled the four-minute water on the showers and water restrictions and the boys went down to Pine Ridge Conservation Park and broke a heap of black boy trees. So, we’re allowed to break one per person, that I know of and I don’t even know if women can or if it’s just a men’s thing. They went a broke about seven, bought ‘em back to show off to dad. I vaguely remember my dad picking one up and, like, whacking them around the legs, like, “You took too many. You weren’t supposed to. That’s not our thing, you know. You’re not supposed to take more than you need.” And dad’s like, “I don’t even know what to do. You can’t take ‘em back and put ‘em back on. Yous messed up, yous messed up.” Within two days we had a torrential downpour. A mini cyclone ripped off the roof of Big W around the corner from where they did it. I was at home alone, it happened to be my birthday. Cyclone ripped off part of our patio and I got locked by the pressure in my laundry until my parents, my mum come home and let me out. Cos they were all panicking, ringing, “We’re trying to get home to you. We’re trying to get home to you.” And, yeah, they put it back to that. They think it was because the boys broke our local cultural law by going to break too many of the black boy sticks. And, I’m like, can you guys go down and break just a couple, not like heaps, just break one or two to bring the rain back? I think it’s only… that’s only Kombumerri line. So, my girlfriend’s been trying to find a black boy population that we can go and just break a stick off, respectfully, and see if that brings the rains on, as a way to, you know, see if it works. We can try.