History runs deep at significant lake

Kendall O'Connor GREAT SOUTHERN HERALDGreat Southern Herald

Noongar history is set to be officially recognised at Lake Ewlyamartup as a result of a collaboration between Katanning Landcare and indigenous families with ties to the area.

Katanning Landcare was allocated $27,625 through a Lotterywest grant earlier this year and the project is due to be completed in December.

Two workshops will be held in November. The first will be held at the lake and focus on connecting people with the land and sharing stories about Ewlyamartup from a Noongar perspective.

The second workshop will develop a way of permanently acknowledging the connection the indigenous community has with the lake.

Katanning Landcare will then source the funding to start the project.

Noongar elder Graham Eades will take part in the workshops, along with elder Gabrielle Hansen, Kathleen Farmer and Wesley Farmer.

The workshops could result in the development of signage, a sculpture or mural erected at Lake Ewlyamartup.

According to Mr Eades, a sacred site is located on the outskirts of the lake, which was once a camping ground for families more than 100 years ago. “The lake used to be fresh water, our families would fish and hunt kangaroo at the lake … waterways were a big place for Noongars, due to the belief system it was where the sacred snake would live,” he said.

Up until the 1960s, the lake was used as a swimming pool as the indigenous community were not allowed to use the town-based swimming facilities.

“When I was growing up in Katanning, we had to go for a swim at the lake as we weren’t allowed to at the pool, it was only for white people …we would ride our bikes out there,” Mr Eades said.

Katanning Landcare program manager Ella Maesepp said this was the first time the group and the Noongar community had worked together on a project.

“I’m really excited about this project — we’ve long known that Ewlyamartup is an important Aboriginal place, and this will be a great opportunity … hopefully, this may also open the door for more joint projects between Landcare and traditional owners in Katanning,” she said.

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