The Time of Parra’dowee – Gooray’murrai.
Warm and wet (November / December)
The annual cycle of the D’harawal landscape comprises six seasons, one of which is the season of Gooray’murrai.
The time of the Parra’dowee (eel) signifies the time to prepare for the very hot weather which will, within the next two moons, scorch the land and the people. This is the time when it is unwise to camp near rivers; the weather is getting hotter and storms with heavy rain more frequent. The golden yellow flowers of the Kai’arrewan (Acacia binervia) indicate the beginning of the season, giving plenty of warning of the storms to come. In massive numbers the freshwater eels begin their long journey down the rivers and creeks and out to sea where they will mate and die.
During this time, the fish will be running in the rivers, and on moonless nights the tidal rivers will echo with the delighted cries of the People as they catch the delicious prawns which inhabit the shallows
Goray’murrai is the season when Galu, the stately egret, develops a veil of long plumage on its back and breast and its bill and legs turn a deep pinkish-red. The female selects her mate and they perform their graceful mating dance together. The nest is an untidy agglomeration of sticks high in a tree fork near rivers, or in swamplands or mangroves. They usually lay between three to five pale-green eggs.
Another indicator of the arrival of the Season of Parra is the flowering of Barindah (Angophora hispida), a small tree which inhabits ridge tops, and has stiff, greyish green leaves. It is a sign that Naga the native bee’s production of honey will be greatly increased. However, of more importance to the D’harawals, a small beetle inhabiting the bark is a necessary addition to the medicine repertoire.
Torumba, the red mahogany (Eucalyptus resinifera) also flowers during the Goray’murrai. It is a season of storms and heavy rain, and the distinctive, sweet smell exuded by this tree the day before rain gives the D’harawal Peoples who live along the rivers warning of the coming deluge. The nectar of the flowers also provides an energising medicine for the very young and very old.
It is a season of storms and heavy rain, and the distinctive, sweet smell exuded by this tree the day before rain gives the D’harawal Peoples who live along the rivers warning of the coming deluge.Frances Bodkin, D’harawal Climate and Natural Resources
Bilima, the long-necked turtle, will emerge from his home billabong after rain and travel up to two kilometres to seek a mate in a new waterhole. The females will lay up to twenty-four eggs in a hole dug in moist soils of a swamp or bank of a creek. Some three to six months later at night immediately after rain, the babies will hatch, dig themselves out of the nest and, under cover of darkness, make their way to the closest waterhole.
Dhai’aman, the Port Jackson fig (Ficus rubiginosa) begins to form the fruit which will provide food for man, beast and bird. The Dhai’aman is culturally important to the Dharawal Peoples, in that it was honoured by being used as a teaching tree. Its dense shade and widely-spreading branches that sometimes reach the ground provide protection for the children, at the same time preventing their attention being drawn by movement or happenings outside the natural “schoolroom”.
During the early Goray’murrai Barnaga, the lace monitor will be found trying to establish his territory by rearing up, wrestling, and biting his opposition for the right to mate with a female. When the male finally establishes dominance, he will approach the female while shaking his head. The female will then lie down while the male nuzzles her, licking her back and sides. Late in Goray’murrai, the female will dig a hole and lay between six to twenty eggs in a termites’ nest. The termites will then quickly seal over the hole, keeping the eggs safe until the next spring when the mother Barnaga will return to the nest and free the twenty-eight centimetres long, brightly coloured black and yellow babies.
Late in Goray’murrai, the female will dig a hole and lay between six to twenty eggs in a termites’ nest. The termites will then quickly seal over the hole, keeping the eggs safe until the next spring.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.