Photo of Marine Park at The Rip, Port Phillip Heads. Photo: Greg Blair.
I am planning a larger project based on the Two Bays pilot project that we ran on Pelican in January this year. I am using this post to think out loud as I want to develop an aspect of the project around the known oral history of the Bay from the Boonerwrung people and link it with the understandings being developed from marine mapping. That's the bare bones.
The fleshing of the bones takes me back to an earlier post which gives a bit more detail on the links between the indigenous oral history relating to the geomorphology of this region and our current knowledge developed through marine mapping. During our project this year we were carrying out a large water quality survey and the results for Port Phillip Bay were that the bay is hyposaline, in fact, it is the saltiest since the EPA started monitoring 30 odd years ago. This is due to the fact that we have been in a very severe drought and the usual amounts of fresh water are not flowing into the bay. The bay is now saltier than Bass Strait (the ocean body at the entrance).
Usually the water from the bay flows out at the upper most level of the water, but as salt makes it heavier we are theorising that the water flowing out will be on bottom.
If you did go back to my earlier post you may now get an idea about why this exites my imagination. The water flowing out at the bottom may be recreating the original waterfall underwater. We will be able to test this with a wonderful oceanographer's tool called an acoustic Doppler current profiler, which will hopefully be able to capture the data to give us a true picture of the exchange processes taking place in the Rip.
The Boonerwrung Elders tell a story about the changes that happened here 10,000 years ago when the seas rose and created the bay and Bass Strait. Here is that story.
Bunjil is an Aboriginal god of creation
"Many years ago this land that we now call Melbourne extended right out to the ocean. Port Phillip Bay was then a large flat plain where Boonerwrung hunted kangaroos and cultivated their yam daisy.
But one day there came a time of chaos and crises. The Boonerwrung and the other Kulin nations were in conflict. They argued and fought. They neglected their children. They neglected their land. The native yam was neglected. The animals were killed but not always eaten. The fish were caught during their spawning season. As this chaos grew the sea became angry and began to rise until it covered their plain and threatened to flood the whole of their country.
The people went to Bunjil, their creator and spiritual leader. They asked Bunjil to stop the sea from rising. Bunjil told his people that they would have to change their ways if they wanted to save their land. The people thought about what they had been doing and made a promise to follow Bunjil. Bunjil walked out to the sea, raised his spear and directed the sea to stop rising. Bunjil then made the Boonerwrung promise that they would respect the laws.
The place the Kulin then chose to meet as a means of resolving these differences is where this Parliament [of Victoria] is now located. The Kulin nations met here regularly for many thousands of years. They debated issues of great importance to the nation; they celebrated, they danced. "
It seems that our time now is not so different to the crisis that is painted for the Aboriginal peoples. These strong warning stories (not dissimilar to the story of the Ark) have a strong resonance today as we face issues such as global warming and environmental destruction. I am hoping to amplify the science that we are doing in the Two Bays project through these deep cultural histories to help to bed us deeper in the place we are in and help support our efforts to protect it.
Bare bones still....Next comes the how, where and with whom!