Interview with Menang Elder Aden Eades
Minang Elder Aden Eades.
WICC recently caught up with local Menang Elder, Aden Eades to get a better idea about how different Noongar groups interacted, traded and moved through our local landscape. Aden has family connections from Esperance across to Nornalup. Aden’s great grandmother, Margaret ‘Maggie’ Picket was born in Nornalup (place of the Tiger Snake). Maggie married one of the early Denmark settlers, John Penny.
Aden: “My great grandmother grew up around the Nornalup area and spent much of her time around a camp they had set up near the current Nornalup bay there, which they called Deep Creek at that time.”
WICC: “Where were the borders for the different tribal groups?
Aden: “The Pibbulman and Menang mob mixed between Nornalup across to Windy Harbour. Beyond the Pibbulman you had the Wadandi from maybe Windy Harbour, Lake Jasper onwards to Margaret River. Nobody ever sat in one place in those times. They didn’t have any time to waste. People from the different tribes met up, cause they didn’t believe in interbreeding. You could not marry blood relations so tribes did visit each other for that purpose. Just to keep the line pure all of the time. Like now, we have different blood in us. Look at me, I have white grandfathers.”
WICC: “What about the importance of waterways in Noongar culture. How did that govern movements?”
Aden: “Noongars used to catch up near the waterways where the different tribal groups joined. The Noongars always followed the rivers around. They were very important. In those days they were all fresh water. They would camp around the rivers as long as there was plentiful food. The river from the Nornalup goes all the way up to Lake Muir. The young fellas would be looking for a partner and the young girls would be playing hard to get.”
WICC: “Why would tribal groups meet beyond marriage?”
Aden: “They would have traded ochre. Anything they were short of in one area they might have had in plenty over there. You would trade skins. Possums, roo and chuditch (wester quoll). They needed to have something on to keep them warm. They also met for corroboree and dance. There were always some interactions throughout the year. There are a lot of people that say that Denmark was taboo to Noongar People. I don’t believe that. Our mob was right through that whole area.”
WICC: “The Noongar tribes went up and down the coast, what about going inland?”
Aden: “The river goes from Nornalup and goes right through up to Lake Muir. The lake system around Lake Muir goes all the way up to Cranbrook, I am sure there was trade and marriage exchanges. They walked a long way. Not like I do now in my car. Noongars had a nomadic life. While Noongars moved all around the coast the inland groups would come to the coast in the warmer months for fishing and people would head inland in winter months to shelter from the weather.”
WICC: “What about some of your childhood memories. What stands out?”
Aden: “My grandmother was huge in my life. My grandmother used to take us, when my grandfather was out working, she would take me out with a digging stick to spear rabbits out of their warrens. She was out in the paddocks digging up mallee roots right into her old age. Her and her two sisters. And hockey. We played hockey a fair bit in those days. We would bend the wood to get the shape of a hockey stick.”