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The Wagyl, or Rainbow Serpent, is the creation spirit in Noongar culture and its presence was acknowledged before work started around the waterhole at the Thornlie-Cockburn Link Nicholson Road Station site.
Noongar Elder Marie Taylor and her nephew Shannon Rioli performed a Wagyl kaya wanju ritual and smoking ceremony at the waterhole attended by project staff.
After being ‘cleansed’ by a smoking ceremony, attendees were invited to blend their sweat with a handful of dirt and then throw the earthly mix into the waterhole as a sign of respect to appease the Wagyl.
“The Wagyl is a powerful spirit and it protects natural water bodies, so its approval is important to ensure work around the waterhole is safe and successful,” Ms Taylor said.
The waterhole’s Noongar cultural significance was identified early in the project and influenced plans to avoid impacts and make it a feature of the area. This was developed in consultation with the METRONET Noongar Reference Group.
A key reference group recommendation in conserving the waterhole to preserve its bulrushes, which are wetland grasses and are said to represent the Wagyl’s whiskers in Noongar culture.
Cultural recognition events, construction activities and design such as this form an important part of the Gnarla Biddi Strategy.
This is a great example of METRONET’s project delivery contractors working with the METRONET Noongar Reference Group and Noongar stakeholders to facilitate Noongar cultural recognition and place making outcomes.