From the desk of Catherine, Project Officer South Coast Enviro-Experiences  

Albany’s second WA Trees Festival saw a collaboration between the City of Albany, the Great Southern Science Council and the South Coast Enviro-Experiences project deliver two very unique and interesting events. 

Yarning Circle ‘Trees & Forests’- Sunday 30 April – Kalgan Hall 

This event was fully subscribed and saw over 30 attendees participating with Merningar Elder Lynette Knapp, her son Deon Cummings, UWA Professor of Biodiversity Stephen Hopper and Nelson Gilmour from WA Forest Alliance, as they weaved yarns from the stories, science and culture of Boorna – trees and forests. 

Surrounded by trees around the Kalgan Hall, the yarning circle could feel the connection with the forests which the guest speakers shared. The importance to First Nations peoples of the area and the traditional walking tracks near the Kalgan Hall was a highlight of the location. 

Conversations referred to the cultural and environmental significance of trees and the desire to protect forests from further clearing. The group also discussed the current research on remnant boorna gnammas (water trees) that are being discovered and attendees had the chance to see the boorna gnamma that still exists on the bank of the Kalgan River near the hall.  

The Yarning Circle – Trees & Forests was the fourth and last of the yarning circles initiated by the Great Southern Science Council, including Oceans, Rocks and Fire. The event was recorded in art by renowned local First Nation artists Shandell Cummings and is currently on display at the Albany Public Library.  

‘Science & Art on Noongar Boodja’ Sundowner – Thursday 4 May – Albany Public Library 

Closing the WA Trees Festival program was an incredible exhibition bringing together the knowledge and stories shared from the Great Southern Science Council’s series of Yarning Circles on Oceans, Fire, Rocks and Trees.   

Scientists Dr Alison Lullfitz, Dr Wiebke Ebeling and Professor Steve Hopper gave short presentations on each theme, followed by local artist, Shandell Cummings, talking to the audience about her paintings captured at the Yarning Circles. 

Professor Steve Hopper’s presentation on Trees was collaboratively written with local Elder Lynette Knapp and he explained how Noongar families associate trees with song lines. They look after trees and get rid of obstructions around the trees to protect song lines. He also spoke of how trees are important habitat and fire shelters to our birdlife.  If there were no jarrah trees, cockatoos would be even more endangered! 

The WA Tree Festival events provided the opportunity for our community to indulge and share stories about the amazing trees in our region. 

Volunteering is a great way to connect with people and nature. If you’re interested in increasing your awareness of our unique environment and participating in environmental activities, you can now register on the new South Coast Enviro-Experiences volunteering management platform

For more information, please contact Catherine Johnston (e) (m) 0421 437 525. 

For environmental volunteering opportunities in Esperance and surrounds, please contact
Jimena (e) (m) 0437 440 237  

The South Coast Enviro-Experiences project is supported by Lotterywest.