Deep Time in Noongar Country

Monday, 1 July 2019
Cassie Lynch

The psychological and spatial domination of Noongar country by European colonisation has occurred over a relatively brief span of time when compared to the 50,000 plus years legacy of Aboriginal cultures on this continent. The position that Australia’s relevant history started with the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788 further marginalises the pre-existing Aboriginal cultures and their histories. Creative writing can reinforce, critique, or problematise the Eurocentric representation of Aboriginal land. Recent research by Aboriginal Elder Dr Noel Nannup highlights Noongar culture’s awareness of Deep Time through the correlations between Noongar stories of rising sea levels and ‘cold times’ with scientific evidence of major climate events like Ice Ages. How landscapes are formed are a central concern to both Noongar culture and the scientific areas of geology, geomorphology and climatology. This paper explores how writing fiction in the scale of Deep Time decentralises the European perception of Noongar Country, and brings the scientific and cultural narratives of landscape to the forefront. It also explores how a narrative of resilience in the face of climate change is written onto the fabric of the Noongar oral storytelling tradition.