The time of Burrugin – Tugarah Tuli.
Cold, frosty, short days (June / July)
The annual cycle of the D’harawal landscape comprises six seasons, one of which is the season of Tugarah Tuli.
This is the time when the male Burrugin (echidnas) form lines of up to ten as they follow the female through the woodlands in an effort to wear her down and mate with her. It is also the time when the Burringoa (Eucalyptus tereticornis) starts to produce flowers, indicating that it is time to collect the nectar of certain plants for the ceremonies which will begin to take place during the next season. It is also a warning not to eat shellfish again until the Boo’kerrikin blooms.
The flowering of the Burringoa (Eucalyptus tereticornis) signifies the coming of the really cold weather and the appearance during the day of the echidna forming long, jostling lines, with a female in the lead and several males following her in a mad race through the bushland.
The appearance of the Burringoa blossoms also indicates that it is a time when the people are not permitted to eat shellfish such as prawns, crabs, yabbies, mussels, pipis, lobsters or periwinkles; but the nectar-laden flowers attract other creatures such as possums and birds to provide adequate food to survive the cold times.
The Kai’mia (Doryanthes excelsa) begins its flowering processes during the Season of Burrugin. The gigantic flower stem tip reaches the top of the long leaves, and as it begins to turn red the D’harawal People would prepare for a trip to the headland of Jibbon (Bundeena) where the women would sing the whales through, wishing them a safe journey and warning them of hazards they may face as they travel north. The whales and their relatives and the D’harawal Peoples had a special relationship, with both sides owing a kin debt to the other. Although whale meat was a favoured food, the D’harawals ate only the dead, stranded whales, and never killed them.
The gigantic flower stem tip reaches the top of the long leaves, and as it begins to turn red the D’harawal People would prepare for a trip to the headland of Jibbon (Bundeena) where the women would sing the whales through, wishing them a safe journey and warning them of hazards they may face as they travel north.Frances Bodkin, D’harawal Climate and Natural Resources
Burumurring, the female wedge-tailed eagle, and her mate, the much smaller Mananga, the male wedge-tailed eagle, can be seen during the Tugarah’tuli performing their mating flight, a graceful, spectacular, circling, sky dance. They build a huge nest of sticks, usually in a fork in the top of a tree, just over the brow of a hill, and line the nest daily with fresh eucalyptus leaves in which is laid one to three whitish eggs, blotched or streaked reddish-brown. Only one of the chicks usually survives to become a fledgling.
Wirrgan, the noisy miner, builds her nest, a cup-shaped structure of twigs, grass, spiders’ web, hair or fur, in the fork of a tree branch in which she lays two to four whitish pink eggs, spotted reddish-brown during this season. Wirrgan has an honoured place amongst the D’harawal Peoples as they warn the people of dangers in the bushland. A group of these noisily chattering birds will flutter from branch to branch of a tree looking downwards, warning the Dharawals of a snake or other danger ahead.
In the earlier part of the Season of Burrugin, Diruwun the magpie will begin his displays, and challenge any rivals entering his territory. He will mate with the female. and stay with her, helping in the care of the two or three hatchlings. Diruwun can recognise colours, but not necessarily faces of humans, and will attack anything of the same colour that had previously tried to disturb the nest. This problem is demonstrated when a child wearing a school uniform will throw stones at the occupied nest, and the magpie will attack anyone wearing those same colours. It is not Diruwun’s fault. It is the fault of the human who attacked the bird in the first place when a magpie terrorises all who wear the same colour as the attacker.
During the nights of the Tugarah tuli the treetops will be disturbed by the mating activity of the Wobin, the feathertail glider, as he woos his mate. They will race through the treetops, jumping nimbly from branch to branch, then leaping into a controlled glide that will take them up to twenty five metres from launching. They build a spherical nest of leaves in the hollow of a tree in which two litters of three or four babies may be raised each year.
During the nights of the Tugarah tuli the treetops will be disturbed by the mating activity of the Wobin, the feathertail glider, as he woos his mate.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.