Making a Difference

Winmallee Yallambie-Gunung  - Hot North Wind and Fishtrap Season                                                          

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 During this eight week period of intense heat and hot north winds, daily life was centred on the waterways and river camps in the Yarra Valley. Whilst ‘Winmallee’ is the Woiwurung word given for hot north wind, ‘Yallambie Gunung’ literally means ‘hang around near the river’ In traditional times it was therefore little different to today spending the summer holidays at the beach, with the associated water activities offering relief from the heat.

As the river flows were at their lowest level for the year this was therefore the most appropriate time for making repairs to existing fish and eel traps or constructing new ones. Time would also be devoted to other engineering works such as excavating deep water nurseries for fish and yabbie breeding, and extending mussel farms. This extension to mussel farms and repair of eel traps was of course easily achieved by adding the rocks excavated from the deep water nurseries, to the adjacent rapids areas.

The coming eel season was signaled by such events as the flowering of Swamp Gums and the departure of particular migratory birds. Kangaroo Apples also reached their ripe red stage in this season and could be safely eaten. Outside this final red stage Kangaroo Apples are toxic with one effect being to cause pregnant women to miscarry. Wurundjeri women therefore knew how the unripe fruit could be carefully used for contraceptive purposes, for this was the time of the year that conceptions were planned to eventuate in spring births.


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