The Time of Burran – Gadalung Marool.
Hot and dry (January / February)
The annual cycle of the D’harawal landscape comprises six seasons, one of which is the season of Gadalung Marool.
The staple diet during the time of Burran (the kangaroo) was fruit, seeds, and the roots and tubers of those plants which had finished flowering. It was also usually the hottest time of the year, and a time when the people did not wander far from their water source. This time of year is signified by the blooming of the Weetjellan (Acacia implexa) and indicates that the people were forbidden to eat meat or fish during this time.
Cooking fires were avoided wherever possible during this time of year, and when they had to be lit the preferable location was in sand and well away from other vegetation.
The Gadalung Marool is the hottest season of the year; meat of any kind was forbidden to be eaten, and this is sensible because there was no refrigeration in those days. Instead, the many plants growing in This Land provided more than enough sustenance for the D’harawal People. Nevertheless, there were strict laws regarding the gathering of fruits, seeds, tubers, roots and bulbs. For the trees that bore fruit or seeds, no more than half the crop could be taken; for the plants that grew from tubers only the oldest, fattest, largest tuber could be taken from each plant; a bulb could be harvested only if there were young bulbs around it to grow the next season.
It is during the Season of the Burran that the Wattun’goori (Banksia serrata) flowers. The flowering indicates that within the trunk of this tree one of the many forms of witchetty grub lives. The tell-tale pile of sawdust at the base of the tree will guide the hunter to the hole, where a long slender stick is inserted, spearing the delicious grub, so that it can be eaten either raw or cooked.
The tell-tale pile of sawdust at the base of the tree will guide the hunter to the hole, where a long slender stick is inserted, spearing the delicious grub, so that it can be eaten either raw or cooked.Frances Bodkin, D’harawal Climate and Natural Resources
The kurrajong (Brachychiton populneum) flowers during this time and this is a sign that the young trees from the previous year are ready to be harvested. Again, only half the crop may be taken and if there is only one sapling available, then it would be left. The long, tender, yam-like root was roasted and eaten. The kurrajong, along with the banksias, feature in a law story of behaviour during drought. In drought times the kurrajong will supply water to drink from its roots and branches.
only half the crop may be taken and if there is only one sapling available, then it would be left. The long, tender, yam-like root was roasted and eaten.Frances Bodkin, D’harawal Climate and Natural Resources
Ker’wan (Bursaria spinosa) is an important plant during the Gadalung Marool, even though it does not provide food or water; what it does provide is in its crushed leaves, which were applied to bare skin to ease the sunburn of the hottest season of the year. However, it does provide food for a small wasp which drinks the nectar of the flower, then mates. Being flightless, she drops to the ground and listens until she can hear the larvae of a moth moving through the soil. She then digs down and lays her eggs in the larvae which, when hatched out, eat the larvae and kill it. This not only prevents the larvae from eating the feeding roots of the eucalypts, but since the larvae do not hatch into moths, they cannot eat the growing tips of the eucalypts.
The fruit of Pokulbi (Dianella caerulea) ripens in the Season of the Burran. The deep bluish-purple berries are sweet and also dye the tongue and lips a dark purple, a sign of beauty, much like the lipstick women use today. Pokulbi features in the story of “How the Parrots got their Colour”, and another law story, “Pokulbi and Kulara”, which teaches the punishment for the crime which we call domestic violence today.
During the Gadalung Marool the distinctive perfume of the flowers of the Gamarral (Gastroedia sesamoides) can be smelled. It is a leafless orchid, and apart from the perfume, the flowers are small, about two centimetres long, white to pale cinnamon, and are very hard to find. Nevertheless, the perfume is traced and the place where the Gamarral grows is marked. Then, during the Tugara’tuli, the largest tuber is harvested.
The fruit of Pokulbi (Dianella caerulea) ripens in the Season of the Burran. The deep bluish-purple berries are sweet and also dye the tongue and lips a dark purple, a sign of beauty, much like the lipstick women use today.Frances Bodkin, D’harawal Climate and Natural Resources
The Illawarra is located on D’harawal land. We acknowledge that the Wodi-Wodi people are the Traditional Custodians of the land and have lived sustainably in this landscape for thousands of years. They understand the complex and interconnected cycles of weather, plants and animals.
We acknowledge and thank Dr Frances Bodkin and illustrator Lorraine Robertson for allowing us to share their work in this story. If you are interested in learning more, we recommend visiting the website D’harawal Stories and ordering the two books: D’harawal Dreaming Stories and D’harawal Climate and Natural Resources, both compiled by Frances Bodkin and illustrated by Lorraine Robertson and published by Envirobook.