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Walitj totem planting a source of pride for Colbung family

Stuart McGuckinAlbany Advertiser
Natalie Simpson,  Jahliereh Crudeli, Jahlia Wright, Aisha Coyne and Shayla Lane.
Camera IconNatalie Simpson, Jahliereh Crudeli, Jahlia Wright, Aisha Coyne and Shayla Lane. Credit: Laurie Benson

More than 500 rushes have been planted in the shape of a walitj, or wedge-tailed eagle, on a property near Albany.

Students from North Albany Senior High School’s Clontarf and Deadly Sista Girlz programs helped Southern Aboriginal Corporation rangers plant the rushes on Tuesday as part of the Noongar Kaartdijin school program.

Staff from South Coast Natural Resource Management, Gondwana Link, the Oyster Harbour Catchment Group and Bush Heritage Australia also lent a hand at the Redmond property.

The planting took place on the Walitj Aboriginal Corporation farm and was of special significance for the Colbung family as it took the shape of their traditional totem.

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Mark Colbung, Bobby Colbung, Daniel Colbung, Bryan Colbung, Oscar Colbung and Jyrin Woods.
Camera IconMark Colbung, Bobby Colbung, Daniel Colbung, Bryan Colbung, Oscar Colbung and Jyrin Woods. Credit: Laurie Benson

The freshly planted walitj is expected to bloom in spring with different rush varieties planted to representing the colours of the bird’s feathers.

Oscar Colbung said his family was made to feel “very proud” by the project.

“We’ve always planted plenty of trees such a bluegums along the waterways but just in straight lines, what we’ve done now is more symbolic,” he said.

“It was fantastic having Clontarf and the Sista Girlz program out there with us along with the Noongar staff.

“Everyone was really excited.”

Kaia Anderson, Kira Brown and Monet Bennell-Aylemore.,
Camera IconKaia Anderson, Kira Brown and Monet Bennell-Aylemore., Credit: Laurie Benson

Just over an hour was needed to plant the 520 rushes in the shape of the walitj within the property’s riparian zone.

It was the second stage of the project, with work to increase the protection of the waterway flowing to the Hay River already completed in stage one, along with 1.5ha of replanting.

Oscar Colbung said the idea for a totem planting was something picked up from another Indigenous group.

“We just thought this was a great way of putting significant landscapes on the ground relevant to the Noongar culture,” he said.

“The totem is part of our culture, our family history, and our song line so we wanted it to have its mark on the farm.”

“You can go out there at any time and see a lot of eagles — walitj — all over the place.”

South Coast NRM and SAC Rangers helped students from NASHS plant reeds at Walitj Mia Mia Tuesday morning.
Camera IconSouth Coast NRM and SAC Rangers helped students from NASHS plant reeds at Walitj Mia Mia Tuesday morning. Credit: Laurie Benson
Xavier Whitby and Malcolm Roberts.
Camera IconXavier Whitby and Malcolm Roberts. Credit: Laurie Benson
Nathaniel Colbung and Weylan Lee.
Camera IconNathaniel Colbung and Weylan Lee. Credit: Laurie Benson
Fiona Simpson and Calvin Eades.
Camera IconFiona Simpson and Calvin Eades. Credit: Laurie Benson
Rachel Elphick-Brown and Devyn Manolis.
Camera IconRachel Elphick-Brown and Devyn Manolis. Credit: Laurie Benson
Tyrell Coyne and Bryan Colbung.
Camera IconTyrell Coyne and Bryan Colbung. Credit: Laurie Benson
Bryan Colbung, Oscar Colbung and Mark Colbung.
Camera IconBryan Colbung, Oscar Colbung and Mark Colbung. Credit: Laurie Benson

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