The Dolphin and the Spearfisher : based on the Dreamtime story of the Nyoongar People
UWA Publishing, 2019
Primary, Secondary, Upper Primary
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English, Noongar / Nyungar / Nyungah languages (W41) (WA SI50)
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- Glossaries and vocabularies
- Noongar / Nyungar / Nyungah people (WA41) (WA S150)
- Rivers and creeks
Two teenage Nyoongar brothers, Gidgi and Keek, the river brothers, love to spend their time fishing and swimming in the rivers, waterways and ocean. While they share this passion, the brothers differ in many ways - Gidgi, the eldest, is strong, short-tempered and arrogant; and Keek, always in awe of his older brother, is quiet, humble and mindful of his mother’s and the Elders’ wishes. Having lost their father, the brothers are taught about the land and the seasons, hunting and survival by their large extended family however Gidgi’s disobedience and rebellious nature is not lost on the Elders. When the time comes to move camp, Gidgi defies an Elder’s instructions and sneaks off to have one more swim in the ocean. In trying to prevent his brother from angering their mother and the Elders, Keek searches for Gidgi only to find him trapped in fishing nets and in danger of drowning which forces the younger brother to make a selfless decision.
As explained in an introductory note by Richard Walley, stories such as ‘The Dolphin and the Spearfisher’ are ‘guides and rules to our cultural lore as well as educational tools for social interaction and lifestyle.’ Respect for family values, tradition and cultural practices underlies the lesson behind this Dreaming Story. Through his brother’s sacrifice, Gidgi grows in learning and in maturity and their people look upon the dolphin as their ocean brothers and sisters. This coming-of-age story is written in a formal style with Nyoongar words featured throughout and includes several double page spreads in painterly acrylics along with a glossary.
Alton Walley, author, actor and dancer, is a Whadjuck, Wilman, Kaneang Nyoongar man from the southwest of Western Australia; and, his father, Dr Richard Walley OAM, is a Nyoongar man also of southwest W.A. with family connections throughout the Whadjuck, Ballardong, Wardan, Yuet and Pinjareb regions. Dr Walley has been recognised over many years for his championing of Aboriginal culture with honours including an Order of Australia, Honorary Doctorates at Murdoch University and University of WA, WA Citizen of the Year and, in 2021 WA Senior Australian of the Year.
- UWA Publishing ‘Alton Walley’ https://uwap.uwa.edu.au/collections/alton-walley
- Museum of Perth ‘Richard Walley https://www.museumofperth.com.au/richard-walley
- Kaartdijin Noongar ‘Sharing Noongar Culture’ https://www.noongarculture.org.au/
- Rosemary van den Berg, Murdoch University 2008 ‘Aboriginal Storytelling and Writing’ https://thealtitudejournal.files.wordpress.com/2008/07/62.pdf
- Interview with author, Alton Walley, about his book Chunyart and the Cheeky Parrot, talks about his totem, his work at Kings Park Botanical Gardens, Aboriginal Productions website https://aboriginalproductions.com.au/chunyart-and-the-cheeky-parrot-interview-with-alton-walley/
- Noongar Culture - Lore and Food, Mrs Averil Dean tells her story about Dolphins herding salmon. https://www.noongarculture.org.au/noongar-lore/