Lake Joondalup Lake Goollelal



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Plants and  

People in  

Mooro Country

Nyungar Plant Use in 

Yellagonga Regional Park


Lake Joondalup

Lake Goollelal

Nowergup Lake

Coogee Swamp

Yonderup Lake

Lock Mcness

Pipidinny 

Swamp

Beonaddy 



Swamp

Mariginiup Lake

Jandabup Lake 

Gnangara 

Lake 

Neerabup Lake



YELLAGONGA 

REGIONAL PARK

Beenyup 

Swamp

Walluburnup 

Swamp

Plants and  

People in  

Mooro Country

Nyungar Plant Use in 

Yellagonga Regional Park


Acknowledgements

The City of Joondalup would like to thank Neville Collard for his generous 

contribution to this publication. Neville is a Nyungar elder who has allowed 

us to include his knowledge and experiences in our research. Neville’s 

knowledge is based on his interpretation of Nyungar botanical practices 

passed down to him by his ancestors. Neville’s advice and guidance has 

been invaluable. Thank you.

Thank you also to the following people for their photographic contributions, 

Gary Tate, Lisa Pilkington, David Pike and Bill Betts.

Second Edition 2011


Contents

Yellagonga Regional Park: A Changed Landscape ......................................................................9

Aboriginal Settlement .....................................................................................................................9

Exploration and Invasion ..............................................................................................................11

Colonisation and Dispossession ..................................................................................................13

Wineries and Market Gardens ......................................................................................................15

A Changed Landscape – Yellagonga Regional Park Today ...........................................................15

Mooro Plants and People: Yellagonga Regional Park ................................................................17

Plant Species: Nyungar Uses.......................................................................................................19

Banksia: Mungite, Piara, Pulgart, Pungura ...................................................................................21

Bottlebrush: Kwowdjard ..............................................................................................................25

Daisy: Yoont Djet .........................................................................................................................27

Eucalypt: Jarrah, Koodjat, Marri, Moitch, Tuart .............................................................................29

Grass Tree: Balga ........................................................................................................................33

Grevillea: Berrung ........................................................................................................................37

Hakea: Berrung, Pulgur ...............................................................................................................39

Kangaroo Paw: Kurulbrang ..........................................................................................................41

Lily  ..............................................................................................................................................43

Melaleuca: Yowarl ........................................................................................................................47

Orchid: Kararr ..............................................................................................................................51

Pea Flower: Koorla, Koorpa, Koweda, Marno, Pulboorn, Puyenak, Yackal Djarr ...........................55

Rush, Sedge: Waakal Ngarnak.....................................................................................................59

Solanum ......................................................................................................................................63

Spearwood: Kitja Boorn ...............................................................................................................65

Wattle: Coojong, Panjang, Wilyawa ..............................................................................................67

Zamia: Bayu, Djiridji .....................................................................................................................71

Appendix 1: Species List..............................................................................................................75

Appendix 2: Nyungar Seasons .....................................................................................................85

Appendix 3: Reference List ..........................................................................................................87


6  

A Note on Historical Accuracy and Nyungar Vocabulary

Information on Nyungar plant use has been garnered from personal communications, historical, 

botanical and anthropological research, early-colonial reports, and the diaries and journals of early 

colonisers. It is acknowledged that such references can be problematic and, where appropriate, 

sources have been referenced. 

In constructing this publication, the researchers have attempted to use appropriate Nyungar names 

for plant species wherever possible. Due to dialectal differences and early inconsistencies, many 

species have several names and/or different spellings. A full list of Nyungar plant names and their 

sources has been included at Appendix 1.

The researchers have aimed to be as accurate as possible with regard to the use of plants by local 

Nyungar people. However, due to the nature of the records available, it is possible that details 

have been unintentionally misrepresented. A bibliographical Reference List has been provided at 

Appendix 3 and includes all sources examined in the development of this work.

This publication was produced as part of the International Council for Local Environmental 

Initiatives (ICLEI) Local Action for Biodiversity Project. For this project, the City of Joondalup 

has adopted the Local Action for Biodiversity 5–step Action Plan. Step 5 of this Project involves 

the implementation of local on-the-ground biodiversity demonstration projects. This publication, 

Plants and People in Mooro Country: Nyungar Plant Use in Yellagonga Regional Park, is one of 

these demonstration projects.

For more information on the contents of this publication please contact the City of Joondalup 

on (08) 9400 4000.

  7


Lake Joondalup

8  


|

  YELLAGONGA REGIONAL PARK: A CHANGED LANDSCAPE



Yellagonga 

Regional Park

A Changed Landscape

Yellagonga Regional Park is located on the Swan Coastal Plain within the Cities of Joondalup and 

Wanneroo. The Park contains a string of wetlands and swamps which form part of the ‘Linear Lakes’, an 

important north-south link with Neerabup National Park and Yanchep National Park. Included in Yellagonga 

Regional Park are Lake Joondalup

1

, Beenyup



2

 Swamp, Walluburnup

3

 Swamp and Lake Goollelal



4

.

Yellagonga Regional Park contains a diversity of eco-systems and represents flora and fauna communities 



that were once widespread on the Swan Coastal Plain. The Park’s wetlands represent some of the last 

remaining freshwater systems in the Perth Metropolitan Area (DEC 2003). In addition to the abundant plant 

life, these wetlands provide an important breeding ground for local birds, reptiles and amphibians (DEC 

2003). The largest lake in the Park, Lake Joondalup, is listed on the Register of the National Estate and is 

considered to be of national significance.

Aboriginal Settlement:

According to archaeological evidence, Nyungar

5

 people were occupying the area around Yellagonga 



Regional Park for at least 40,000 years prior to European colonisation (Hallam 1989:145-147). The country 

surrounding the Yellagonga Regional Park area was called ‘Mooro’ and was frequented by several large 

family groups up until the early-1900s. The Regional Park itself is named after an important Nyungar elder of 

the early colonial period, Yellagonga

6

. Early colonist Robert Menli Lyon, believed that “Mooro, the district of 



Yellowgonga…is bounded by the sea on the west; by Melville water and the Swan, on the south; by Ellen’s 

brook, on the east; and, by the Gyngoorda, on the north.” (Lyon 1833:176). Prior to large-scale European 

settlement, it is likely that the vicinity which is now the Perth Central Business District was the focal area 

of Mooro Country, with Yellagonga Regional Park playing an integral role (Hallam & Tillbrook 1990:349). 

1

  ‘Joondalup’ is a Nyungar word which may mean ‘place of whiteness or glistening’, ‘place of a creature that can only move backwards’ or ‘place of 



the long, white hair’.

2

  ‘Beenyup’ is a Nyungar word which may mean ‘digging place’ or ‘place of native yams’.



3

  ‘Walluburnup’ is a Nyungar word which may mean ‘open space between two trees’, ‘place of fish and wallaby’ or ‘fish in lake’.

4

  ‘Goollelal’ is a Nyungar word which may mean ‘swampy sheoak’ or ‘place for camp’.



5

  Also written as ‘Noongar’, ‘Nyoongar’, ‘Nyoongah’ and ‘Nyungah’.

6

  Also written as ‘Yellowgonga’, ‘Yalagonga’, ‘Yalagongga’, ‘Yalgonga’, ‘Yalgongga’, ‘Yalgoonga’, ‘Yallagonga’, ‘Yallowgonga’, ‘Yalyunga’, 



‘Yelloganga’, ‘Yellogonga’, ‘Yellowgongo’, ‘Barragim’, ‘Drooreer’, ‘Naraganianda’ and ‘Ngalgonga’ (Hallam & Tillbrook 1990:348-354).

YELLAGONGA REGIONAL PARK: A CHANGED LANDSCAPE  

|

  

9



Lake Goollelal

10  


|

  YELLAGONGA REGIONAL PARK: A CHANGED LANDSCAPE



A census recorded by colonist Francis Armstrong in 1837

7

 showed there to be 28 Mooro Nyungars 



(Armstrong 1836:192), although it is not possible to confirm this number.

For local Nyungar people, the Yellagonga Regional Park area holds considerable significance. The wetlands 

have been used extensively for hunting, food-gathering, social, ceremonial and recreational purposes and 

formed part of a north-south link of rivers, lakes and wetlands along the Swan Coastal Plain. The Yellagonga 

Regional Park area was particularly important during the autumn and spring months, when it was utilised as 

a semi-permanent camping ground. The natural north-south routes, which form the Linear Lakes, provided 

important access tracks to other camping areas and acted as trading routes between family and tribal 

groups (McGuire 1996:58; O’Connor et al 1989:27). 

Exploration and Invasion:

The crew of the 1696 Dutch voyage under Captain Willem de Vlamingh were probably among the first 

Europeans to see signs of Mooro people. The ships travelled approximately 80 kilometres up the Swan 

River, where the crews briefly disembarked. They found the camps and burning fires of Mooro Nyungars, 

but they did not see any people. The de Vlamingh expedition resulted in the name ‘Swarte Swaene-Revier’ 

(Black Swan River), named after the black swans they saw there. Throughout the 18th and 19th Centuries, 

numerous other European expeditions to the south-west coast followed. Many of these voyages noted 

similar signs of the local inhabitants, however, few ever saw any people.

Following the official invasion of New South Wales in 1770, and in spite of a French claim of sovereignty 

in 1772, a British military outpost was established at Albany in 1826. One year later, an expedition under 

Captain James Stirling explored the Swan River, which he described as an ideal place to establish a 

permanent settlement. Subsequent to lobbying in Britain, a fleet was sent and Charles Fremantle, being the 

first to land, declared the Swan River Colony for Britain in 1829.

With the beginning of colonisation, land in the Perth area was initially taken up around the Swan River. Most 

of the land however, was considered to be of very poor quality and early reports sent back to England 

stated that the colony was near starvation (Berryman 2002). The flow of migrants to the colony dwindled, 

and by 1850, the European population had only reached 5,886. The majority of colonisers settled around 

the south-western coastline at Albany, Augusta and Bunbury. The quest for suitable farming land eventually 

compelled the colonisers to explore the region north of the Swan River and various expeditions were 

conducted into the Yellagonga Regional Park area throughout the early 1800s.

In 1834, colonist John Butler passed Lake Joondalup whilst searching for lost cattle. During his visit, 

Butler met some local Mooro people whom he described as “those Wannaroo men who frequent Perth 



in company with the Yellowgonga Tribe”. He believed the local Aboriginal people to be friendly towards 

Europeans and advised a surveying party be sent to the area (Butler 1834:346). The survey was completed 

in 1837 by Thomas Watson and the land was subsequently taken up by various colonisers. These plots 

of land however, were never settled by their new owners and appear to have been part of what has been 

described as a ‘land-grab’, where well-off migrants acquired extra land for speculative purposes (Russo 

1998:115).

Further exploratory work in the Yellagonga Regional Park area was conducted by George Grey in 1838. 

Grey encountered several local Mooro people with whom he tested his newly acquired language skills. Near 

Lake Joondalup, Grey met the Mooro Aborigines Noogongoo

8

, Kurral, Jeebar



9

, and Dudemurry

10

 who fed 



Grey’s party tortoises and talked with Grey throughout the night. Grey writes “They said that, although the 

lake was called Mooloore, the name of the land we were sitting on was Doondalup” (Grey 1841a). Grey 

concluded that the land surrounding the lakes was “of the best quality” and that there was “plenty of good 



feed for cattle” (Grey 1841a). Grey passed through the region again in 1839 after his ship was wrecked at 

7

  The Swan River Colony was founded 8 years earlier in 1829.



8

  Also written as ‘Byerman’, ‘Biarman’, ‘Ngogonga’, ‘Ngoogonga’, ‘Ngoogoongga’, and ‘Nogongo’ (Hallam & Tillbrook 1990:41).

9

  Also written as ‘Djibar’, ‘Jibar’ and ‘Dukadung’ (Hallam & Tillbrook 1990:165).



10

 Also written as ‘Dutomerrar’, ‘Decamurry’, ‘Djitamarra’, ‘Dudamurra’, ‘Dutermerry’, Dutomerra’, and ‘Dutomurra’ (Hallam & Tillbrook 1990:101).

YELLAGONGA REGIONAL PARK: A CHANGED LANDSCAPE  

|

  



11

Lake Goollelal

12  


|

  YELLAGONGA REGIONAL PARK: A CHANGED LANDSCAPE



Kalbarri and the party were forced to walk back to Perth. Mooro people in the Yellagonga Regional Park 

area provided the starving men with frogs, tortoises and zamia nuts (Grey 1841b).

Following Grey, the Surveyor-General, John Septimus Roe, escorted Governor John Hutt to the Yellagonga 

Regional Park area in 1841. Roe freely used the Nyungar names for the lakes, ‘Joondalup’, ‘Goollelal’, 

‘Needubup’ and ‘Nowergup’, and expressed his opinion that the area was suitable for settlement (Russo 

1998:115). In 1842, a group of vagrant soldiers strayed to the area and for a few years Lake Joondalup was 

called ‘Soldiers’ Lake’ (Russo 2998:115). The soldiers’ settlement however, was short-lived and the name 

was seldom used again.

Colonisation and Dispossession:

The first substantial effort to make contact with Mooro people was the ‘Native Experimental Farm’ 

established by the Wesleyan Reverend John Smithies. Smithies arrived in the colony in 1840 with 

instructions from the Methodist Church to both care for the pastoral needs of the colony’s Methodists, 

and convert the local Aboriginal population to the Wesleyan branch of Christianity. In 1843, Smithies 

requested permission from London to set up an Aboriginal Mission outside the main town of Perth, and an 

establishment was built on the banks of Lake Goollelal soon after. The establishment was dubbed ‘Mission 

Farm’, and aside from the ‘Christianisation’ of the local Aborigines, the general purpose of Smithies’ 

Mission, was to encourage local Nyungar people to move off their lands and integrate into European 

‘civilisation’. Smithies’ Mission attempted to educate local Mooro children in farming skills and housework 

so that they could enter into servitude for the European colonisers. It was hoped that the ‘civilising’ of the 

Mooro population would also assist in reducing the gross shortfall in labour the floundering colony was 

experiencing at the time. Unfortunately for Smithies, the land at Lake Goollelal was unsuitable for crop 

planting and the Yellagonga Regional Park area provided such a plentiful supply of food and shelter that the 

Mission school found it could neither attract nor retain its Nyungar pupils (Cook 1966:21-22). Furthermore, 

a significant number of children at Mission Farm died as a consequence of introduced diseases and, as a 

result, the local Aboriginal population refused to allow their children to stay there (Monks 1993:10-11). After 

less than nine years ‘Mission Farm’ was abandoned by the Methodists, and Smithies moved on to better 

prospects in the York region. Reverend John Smithies Park, located on the banks of Lake Goollelal, has 

been named after the Wesleyan Missionary.

The first European to permanently occupy the Yellagonga Regional Park area was James Cockman who 

took up land there in 1852. James Cockman with his wife Mary built a small house close to Walluburnup 

Swamp and, some years later, built a larger stone house close to the corner of Woodvale Drive and 

Wanneroo Road (Newton 2002). With the expansion of the Perth township during the mid-19th Century, 

food depots were created to discourage Aboriginal people from going into the town. During this period, 

Mooro people retreated north to the lakes (McGuire 1996:95). When Cockman resided in the area, 

Aboriginal people still led traditional lives in this part of Mooro Country (Brittain 1990:56). Cockman’s 

grandson, Cecil Malcolm Cockman, grew up in the same stone house, and remembered local Aborigines 

still camping by Lake Joondalup in the early-1900s when he was young (Marwick 2002:6). Following the 

Cockmans, the Buckingham family took up land on the eastern side of Lake Joondalup in 1860. Between 

the 1860s and 1880s, several more families took up land in the Yellagonga Regional Park area, including 

those of Okely, Lander, Backshall, Darch, Duffy, Shenton, Thompson and Leach (Brittain 1990:56; Russo 

1998:120). By the end of the 19th Century, the well-established north-south link had become increasingly 

important to the European colonisers as well. 

Various overland expeditions traversed the lakes area over this period and mining exploration was also 

carried out. During the late-1800s, a stock route was established with sheep, cattle and horses being 

watered and grazed at the lakes as they were driven northwards. A mail-carrying service to northern 

homesteads was established in 1853 and a small cave guano harvesting industry was attempted. As 

additional land was taken up around Perth, colonists would travel to the northern areas for game hunting 

as the animal population around the Swan River became depleted. By 1888 the entire North-West Corridor 

YELLAGONGA REGIONAL PARK: A CHANGED LANDSCAPE  

|

  



13

Walluburnup Swamp

14  


|

  YELLAGONGA REGIONAL PARK: A CHANGED LANDSCAPE



had been taken up by pastoral leases and activity along the lakes had increased considerably. Within only 

60 years the traditional land and food sources of Mooro Country had been severely diminished.

By the end of the 19th Century, various laws had been passed that significantly restricted the rights 

of Aboriginal people in Western Australia. The Industrial Schools Act 1874 effectively introduced the 

institutionalisation of Aborigines by allowing Nyungar children to be placed into the care of the State. 

The Aborigines Protection Act 1886 enabled the newly formed Aborigines Protection Board to indenture 

any Aboriginal child of a ‘suitable age’ into an apprenticeship until the age of 21. The Act also prohibited 

Aboriginal people from entering or remaining in towns, including Perth. Probably the most far-reaching 

legislation was the Aborigines Act 1905 which established the Chief Protector of Aborigines as the legal 

guardian of ‘every Aboriginal and half-caste child’ to the age of 16 years. This Act allowed for the forced 

removal of anyone deemed to be an ‘Aboriginal native’ to a ‘Native Reserve’ and any child to a State 

institution. The effect of the Aborigines Act 1905 was to considerably limit Aboriginal access to land, water, 

housing, employment and education and significantly reduce the ability of Aboriginal people to secure food 

and income (Delmege 2005). Within this context, Mooro people found themselves driven further and further 

to the boundaries of their Country. ‘Native Reserves’ were designated to the fringe areas of Perth and, 

by the beginning of the 20th Century, the vast majority of Mooro Nyungars had been either compelled or 

forcibly removed from the colonised areas of Perth.

Wineries and Market Gardens:

The landscape of the Yellagonga Regional Park area continued to change as it was moulded by successive 

farming operations. Post-World War I, there was an influx of non-British migrants to Perth, particularly from 

Italian, Greek and Yugoslav backgrounds. The Linear Lakes area became an important source of fruit and 

vegetables for the entire Perth region. Between the World Wars, migrants, including the Formiatti, Crisafulli, 

Ariti, and Nanovich families, took up land around Yellagonga Regional Park. Other southern European 

families, including the Contis, Parins and Luisinis later moved to the area and set up wineries, some of 

which are still in operation today.

Increased market gardening and viticulture operations resulted in a significant demand for timber. Timber 

mills were set up along the Yellagonga Regional Park area and a burgeoning industry was developed using 

locally-sourced trees. A limestone industry was also operating successfully in the Yellagonga Regional Park 

area at this time. Limestone quarried from around the lakes was profitably used throughout Wanneroo for 

construction purposes (Russo 1998:113). Lime burning was also conducted and kilns were set up from the 

northern end of Lake Joondalup all the way south to Lake Coogee.

Following the Second World War, Perth experienced a population boom and the City expanded rapidly 

north and south. Much of the land previously farmed for fruit and vegetables was re-zoned for residential 

purposes and the suburbs of Perth gradually spread further and further out from the City Centre. During the 

1960s and 1970s, the area north of Perth experienced rapid growth and became known as the ‘Mortgage 

Belt’ (Russo 1998:137). By the early 1980s, the Shire of Wanneroo had become increasingly urbanised and 

the Yellagonga Regional Park area was declared public open space. 

A Changed Landscape – Yellagonga Regional Park Today:

The relationship between Nyungar culture and the environment is one which “relies upon but also sustains 

the natural resources” (Cherikoff 1993:22). Mooro people adapted the environment to themselves and 

employed sustainable cultivation practices, such as controlled burning and returning roots and seeds to 

the soil. With the invasion of Europeans in the early-1800s, the landscape of Yellagonga Regional Park 

was rapidly and considerably altered. Land was cleared for farming and development, channels were cut 

for irrigation and drainage, limestone was quarried, trees were cut down for timber and many foreign flora 

species were planted. Yellagonga Regional Park today is a changed landscape, having been shaped by its 

distinct and varied past.

YELLAGONGA REGIONAL PARK: A CHANGED LANDSCAPE  

|

  

15



Eucalyptus marginata

16  


|

  MOORO PLANTS & PEOPLE: YELLAGONGA REGIONAL PARK



Mooro Plants  

& People


Yellagonga Regional Park

The people of the Mooro Country possessed an intimate knowledge of the local ecology. Contrary to 

popular belief, Aboriginal people did not “wander the continent in search of food in order to survive in a 

harsh and desolate land” (Isaacs 2002:43). Rather, they held a meticulous knowledge of their own well-

defined area, their Country. The lessons and discoveries about their Country were passed down from 

one generation to the next, largely by oral tradition. The way to use and care for the land was ‘written’ 

into stories and songs of the Dreaming (Cherikoff 1994:24). Knowledge from the Dreaming taught people 

how the spirit beings made foods and medicines from the bush as well as formed the lakes, rivers and 

mountains. 

Plants were extremely important to Nyungar people. Different plants were used to create weapons, such 

as spears and shields, to build shelters, for medicinal purposes, and for food. Probably the most important 

of these uses was food. In Mooro Country, the abundance and diversity of plant species ensured that 

local Nyungar people utilised a substantial number of plants for a variety of purposes. The flowers, stems, 

leaves, bark, gum, resin and roots of many plants were all used. Many Nyungar plant names are utilised in 

today’s vernacular, including ‘Jarrah’, ‘Marri’, ‘Tuart’, ‘Wandoo’, ‘Bullich’, ‘Yarri’, ‘Moonah’, ‘Quandong’, and 

‘Pingle’.

MOORO PLANTS & PEOPLE: YELLAGONGA REGIONAL PARK  

|

  

17



Clematis linearifolia

18  


Plant Species

Nyungar Uses

  19


Banksia prionotes

20  


|

  BANKSIA



Banksia

Mungite, Piara, Pulgart, Pungura

There are over 150 species of banksias, 90% of which occur in south-western Australia. Banksia’s are 

characterised by their sharp, serrated leaves and large, cone-shaped flowers.

In Yellagonga Regional Park, there are at least 7 species of banksia. Banksias are very important to 

Aboriginal people and several Nyungar names for them are known. The Candle Banksia (or Candlestick 

Banksia, Coast Banksia, Slender Banksia) (Banksia attenuata) is known as the Piara (or Biara, 

Bealwra, Peera, Piras), the Bull Banksia (or Giant Banksia, Great-Flowered Banksia) (Banksia 



grandis) is known as the 

Mungite (or Poolgarla, Bulgalla), the Swamp Banksia (or River Banksia, 

Seaside Banksia, Swamp Oak, Western Swamp Banksia) (Banksia littoralis) is known as the 

Pungura (or Boongura, Gwangia), and the Parrot Bush (Banksia sessilis) is known as the Pulgart. The 

Holly-Leaved Banksia (or Holly Banksia) (Banksia ilicifolia), Acorn Banksia (or Orange Banksia, 

Saw-Tooth Banksia) (Banksia prionotes), and the Firewood Banksia (or Menzies Banksia) (Banksia 



menziesii) are present in Yellagonga Regional Park also.

Banksia flowers produce an abundance of honey-like nectar, which is why the early colonists called this 

plant the Honeysuckle. Nyungar people drink the honey straight out of the flower cone, or soak the flower 

in water to produce a sweet drink. This beverage is either drunk fresh or fermented to produce Gep, an 

intoxicating liquor. The early colonists also used the nectar of the banksia for honey and to make sweet 

drinks. Early 20th Century writer, Dame Mary Gilmore, described the use of banksia drinks in the treatment 

of sore throats and colds.

Species found in Yellagonga Regional Park:



 

ƒ

Banksia attenuata



 

ƒ

Banksia grandis



 

ƒ

Banksia ilicifolia



 

ƒ

Banksia littoralis



 

ƒ

Banksia menziesii



 

ƒ

Banksia prionotes



 

ƒ

Banksia sessilis

BANKSIA  

|

  



21

Banksia ilicifolia

22  


|

  BANKSIA



Some banksias, such as the Piara and the Mungite are used by Nyungar people as torches. When alight, 

the dried banksia flower cone smoulders like a torch, these were used by local Nyungars to transport fire 

from one campsite to the next. Nyungar people also kept the lighted cones under their cloaks to keep 

themselves warm in cold weather. 

The Pulgart is an unusual type of banksia, as it has a squat, round flower instead of a long cone. This 

banksia has very spiky leaves and branches and is used by Nyungar people as a broom. The Pulgart is 

also utilised in fishing. Nyungar fishermen break off the branches and walk in a line, driving the djildjit (fish), 

yakan (turtle) or koonak (freshwater prawns) into the fish traps.

The wood of many banksia trees is also used as firewood. In particular the Firewood Banksia is known 

for its quick burning properties.



Banksia grandis

Banksia menziesii

Banksia ilicifolia

Banksia menziesii

Banksia attenuata

BANKSIA  

|

  

23



Calothamnus quadrifidus

24  


|

  BOTTLEBRUSH



Bottlebrush

Kwowdjard

The term ‘bottlebrush’ is used to describe plants 

of the Callistemon genus which are usually 

characterised by their bottlebrush-shaped flowers. 

There are at least 2 species of bottlebrush in the 

Yellagonga Regional Park area, the Silky-Leaved 

Blood Flower (Calothamnus sanguineus) and 

the One-Sided Bottlebrush (Calothamnus 

quadrifidus). The Nyungar name for the One-

Sided Bottlebrush is the Kwowdjard (or 

Queitjat).

Similar to other flowering plants, the blossoms of 

the bottlebrush are useful to Nyungar people as a 

source of honey. Nyungars suck the sweet nectar 

straight from the flower blossoms or they soak the 

flowers in water to produce a sweet drink. From 

time to time, this drink is allowed to ferment to 

produce Gep, an intoxicating liquor.

Species found in Yellagonga Regional Park:

 

ƒ

Calothamnus quadrifidus



 

ƒ

Calothamnus sanguineus



Calothamnus quadrifidus

Calothamnus quadrifidus

Calothamnus sanguineus

BOTTLEBRUSH  

|

  

25



Lagenophora huegelii

26  


|

  DAISY


Daisy

Yoont Djet

‘Daisy’ is a generic term that refers to plants that belong to the Asteraceae Family. Daisy plants vary in size, 

but are usually herbs. Daisy flowers are generally characterised by a round, central stigma surrounded by 

numerous petals.

In Yellagonga Regional Park there are several species of daisies. Abundant species include the Coarse 

Lagenophora (Lagenophora huegelii), Coastal Daisybush (Olearia axillaris), Coastal Groundsel 

(or Variable Groundsel) (Senecio pinnatifolius [var. maritimus]), and the Fragrant Waitzia (Waitzia 



suaveolens). The Nyungar name for the Coastal Groundsel is Yoont Djet.

It is not known whether daisies were of particular importance to traditional Nyungar people. However, it is 

believed that the early colonisers occasionally used daisies in cooking. The crushed leaves of the Coastal 

Daisybush for example, have a pleasant smell and were sometimes used as a herb. As early as 1696, the 

crew of Willem de Vlamingh’s expedition used this daisybush to add flavour to their food. 

Species found in Yellagonga Regional Park:



 

ƒ

Lagenophora huegelii



 

ƒ

Olearia axillaris



 

ƒ

Senecio pinnatifolius (var. maritimus)



 

ƒ

Waitzia suaveolens



Senecio pinnatifolius  

(var. maritimus)

Waitzia suaveolens

Olearia axillaris

(courtesy Iain Hamson,  

Swinburne University of Technology)

DAISY  


|

  

27



Corymbia calophylla

28  


|

  EUCALYPT



Eucalypt 

Jarrah


Koodjat


Marri


Moitch


Tuart


Eucalypts are iconic Australian plants which vary in size from low shrubs to tall trees. Eucalypts are readily 

characterised by their distinctive blossoms and their seed capsules known as ‘gumnuts’.

There are at least 7 species of eucalypts in Yellagonga Regional Park, the Marri (or Red Gum) (Corymbia 

calophylla), Blackbutt (or Coastal Blackbutt, Pricklybark) (Eucalyptus decipiens), Tuart (Eucalyptus 

gomphocephala), 

Jarrah (or Swan River Mahogany) (Eucalyptus marginata), Koodjat (or Straggly 

Mallee) (Eucalyptus petrensis), Moitch (or Kulurda, Flooded Gum) (Eucalyptus rudis), and the 

Eucalyptus todtiana (no common name).

Eucalypts are extremely important trees for Nyungar people and the wood is used for a variety of purposes. 

For example, the wood of the Koodjat and the Jarrah is used to make important objects such as doarks 

(sticks for knocking the tops off Grass Trees [Xanthorrhoea preissii] ), kitjs (spears), wannas (digging 

sticks), and in recent times, didgeridoos. Suitable branches from the Jarrah are also used to make 

spear throwers. The early colonists too, used eucalyptus wood to a great extent for such purposes as 

construction, fencing and furniture-making.

Eucalyptus leaves also produce eucalyptus oil which is used by Nyungar people for medicinal purposes. 

Gum leaves are rubbed between the hands and then breathed-in to clear the nasal passages. In addition, 

the leaves of one species, the Moitch, are sometimes covered in small white spots of manna. Manna is the 

product of a small mite that gathers on the base of the leaves. Nyungars lick the sugary manna directly off 

the leaves or gather the substance into a large, sweet lolly to suck on.

Species found in Yellagonga Regional Park:



 

ƒ

Corymbia calophylla



 

ƒ

Eucalyptus decipiens



 

ƒ

Eucalyptus gomphocephala



 

ƒ

Eucalyptus marginata



 

ƒ

Eucalyptus petrensis



 

ƒ

Eucalyptus rudis



 

ƒ

Eucalyptus todtiana

EUCALYPT  

|

  



29

Eucalyptus rudis

30  


|

  EUCALYPT



Eucalypts were called ‘Gum Trees’ by the early colonisers due to the large quantities of gum that exude from 

their trunks. Nyungar people use this gum for a wide variety of medicinal purposes. Gums from the Marri, 

Tuart and the Jarrah are used as a mild anaesthetic. Large pieces of gum have also been used as fillings 

for hollow teeth and to treat diarrhoea. Gums can also be ground into powder and used as an ointment on 

sores or infected areas, or mixed with water as a tonic for upset stomachs.

The bark from eucalypt trees is also very important. Bark from the Marri, Tuart and Jarrah was often 

used by Nyungar people as the roofing for mia-mias (shelters). Jarrah bark is considered the best for this 

purpose, as it can easily be made waterproof. The high tannin content of Jarrah bark also made it useful as 

a tanning agent and for making dye. In addition, the bark of this tree can be peeled off in one large, curved 

sheet. Evidence of such sheets of bark being removed can be seen today on ‘scarred trees’.

Eucalypts are well-known for their distinctive blossoms. These blossoms are used by Nyungar people as 

a source of honey, either by sucking directly from the flower, or by dipping the flower in water to create a 

sweet drink. Ngoowak (native bees) enjoy the nectar-rich eucalyptus blossoms also, and Nyungars can 

often find honey in the hollows of eucalyptus branches. 

As well as bees, the tall eucalypts, including the Marri, Tuart and the Jarrah, attract birds which nest in the 

branch hollows. Nyungar people can climb the trees to catch the birds or to take the eggs to eat.

 

Corymbia calophylla



Eucalyptus rudis

Corymbia calophylla

Eucalyptus marginata

 

Eucalyptus petrensis



 courtesy M. Fagg,  

Australian National Botanic Gardens

EUCALYPT  

|

  

31



Xanthorrhoea preissii

32  


|

  GRASS TREE



Grass Tree

Balga


The Grass Tree is endemic to south-western Australia and, prior to large-scale land clearing, this plant 

could be found across the Yellagonga Regional Park area.

In Western Australia, Grass Trees (or Blackboys) (Xanthorrhoea preissii) are also known by their Nyungar 

name, Balga. Other recorded Nyungar names for this plant include, Baaluk, Balag, Balka, Barro, 

Kooryoop, Paaluc, Palga and Yarrlok.

The Balga is an extremely important plant for Nyungar people and many parts of this plant can be used. 

The long, thin fronds of the Grass Tree, called mindarie, can be used to cover the roof of the mia-mia 

(shelter). When it rains, the water runs along the underside of the fronds, keeping the people inside dry. The 

early colonisers used the mindarie in a similar way for thatch. Nyungars also used the mindarie as soft 

bedding.


Balgas produce a resin which oozes from their trunks (especially on hot days and after burning). This resin 

can be used as a binding agent after being crushed in a heated stone pot with charcoal and kangaroo 

droppings. The molten resin produced by this process is used like a cement to bind objects together, such 

as stone spearheads onto wooden spear shafts. 

Balga resin can also be used as a tanning agent. Nyungars dissolve lumps of resin in water in a rock hole 

heated by hot stones. The hides of yonga (kangaroo) and koomal (possum) are scraped and softened 

and then placed in the rock hole to soak. The skins were then worn as bookha (clothes), wogga (blankets) 

or used as a coorda (carry-bag). The resin was prepared by the early colonists in a similar way to make 

varnish.

Species found in Yellagonga Regional Park:



 

ƒ

Xanthorrhoea preissii

GRASS TREE  

|

  



33

Xanthorrhoea preissii

34  


|

  GRASS TREE



Balga resin is also highly flammable and Nyungar women collect pieces of resin to use as firelighters. The 

burning resin is also pleasantly fragrant and, when inhaled, can be useful in clearing sinuses. The early 

colonists noted the highly flammable nature of the Balga and a great number of these trees were cut down 

for firewood. 

In addition, Balgas are used by Nyungar people for food. In times of shortage, the mindarie can be pulled 

out and the white, soft, new leaves eaten. These soft leaves were also eaten by the early colonisers. The 

centre of the Balga is edible too and Nyungar people would chop the top off the tree and scoop out the 

white pulp within. This pulp is used as a medicine for upset stomachs or eaten as food in times of shortage. 

In times of drought, Balgas were very useful to Aboriginal people in locating water. After several of the 

mindarie were pulled out, a small hollow would remain. Water would then seep into this hollow which could 

then be drunk.

The flower spear of the Balga is also important to Nyungar people. The long stem of the flower can be used 

as a torch, particularly when moving from one camp to the next, and the shaft can be used for sparking fires 

by friction. The long stem is also used to make spear shafts and in the construction of the mia-mia.



Xanthorrhoea preissii

Xanthorrhoea preissii

Xanthorrhoea preissii

Xanthorrhoea preissii

Xanthorrhoea preissii

GRASS TREE  

|

  

35



Grevillea crithmifolia

36  


|

  GREVILLEA



Grevillea

Berrung


The Grevillea Genus is a diverse group of over 350 plants which range from low-lying shrubs to tall trees.

There are at least 3 species of grevillea in Yellagonga Regional Park, the Grevillea crithmifolia (no 

common name), Grevillea preissii (no common name), and Grevillea vestita (no common name). Low, 

flowering shrubs, such as grevilleas, are often called Berrung by Nyungar people.

The nectar from Berrung plants is an important source of honey. Similar to other flowering plants, the 

nectar from grevilleas can be sucked directly from the flowers or soaked in water to produce a sweet drink. 

Sometimes the drink is allowed to ferment to produce Gep, an intoxicating liquor.

Species found in Yellagonga Regional Park:



 

ƒ

Grevillea crithmifolia



 

ƒ

Grevillea preissii



 

ƒ

Grevillea vestita



Grevillea crithmifolia

Grevillea crithmifolia

Grevillea vestita

GREVILLEA  

|

  

37



Hakea lissocarpha

38  


|

  HAKEA


Hakea

Berrung, Pulgur

Hakeas are shrubs which produce attractive, nectareous flowers, highly favoured by bees and honeyeaters.

In Yellagonga Regional Park there are 3 species of hakeas, the Honey Bush (or Duck and Drake Bush) 

(Hakea lissocarpha), the Harsh Hakea (Hakea prostrata) and the Two-Leaf Hakea (Hakea trifurcata). 

Flowering shrubs, such as hakeas and grevilleas, are often called Berrung by Nyungar people. The Harsh 

Hakea is also known as the Pulgur (or Doolgur).

Similar to other flowering plants, hakea flowers are an important source of honey for Nyungars. The nectar 

is either sucked directly from the flowers, or the blossoms are soaked in water to produce a sweet drink. 

Sometimes the drink is allowed to ferment to produce Gep, an intoxicating liquor.

The spiky branches of the Pulgur are also used by Nyungars in fishing. The branches are broken and used 

to drive fish into traps. The wood from the branches of the Pulgur can also be used to make message-

sticks. 

Early colonists, such as George Fletcher Moore observed that the gum from the Hakea tree was eaten by 

Nyungar people and he believed that it formed an important part of the local diet. Hakea gum can be easily 

stored in cakes, and it is likely that it was transported by Nyungar people from place to place. In other parts 

of Australia, the burnt bark of the Hakea is used in bush medicine. The ash from the bark is rubbed onto the 

body to relieve skin sores.

Species found in Yellagonga Regional Park:

 

ƒ

Hakea lissocarpha



 

ƒ

Hakea prostrata



 

ƒ

Hakea trifurcata



Hakea trifurcata

Hakea prostrata

HAKEA  


|

  

39



Anigozanthos manglesii

40  


|

  KANGAROO PAW



Kangaroo Paw

Kurulbrang

Kangaroo paws are iconic plants, native to Western Australia. Mangles Kangaroo Paw (Anigozanthos 

manglesii) is in fact the floral emblem of this State.

In Yellagonga Regional Park there are 2 species of kangaroo paws, Mangles Kangaroo Paw (or Red 

and Green Kangaroo Paw, Common Green Kangaroo Paw) (Anigozanthos manglesii) and Catspaw 

(or Common Catspaw, Dwarf Catspaw) (Anigozanthos humilis). Mangles Kangaroo Paw is known 

by Nyungar people as Kurulbrang (or Nollamara, Yonga Marra).

As well as having attractive and unusual flowers, kangaroo paws have tuberous roots which contain 

significant levels of stored starch. In a similar way to orchids and some lily species, the roots of kangaroo 

paws are eaten by Nyungar people. Prior to large-scale land clearing, it is likely that kangaroo paws were far 

more abundant in the Yellagonga Regional Park area than they are today. Root tubers formed an important 

part of the traditional Nyungar diet, and it is possible that the roots of kangaroo paws were gathered in large 

quantities.

Species found in Yellagonga Regional Park:



 

ƒ

Anigozanthos humilis



 

ƒ

Anigozanthos manglesii



Anigozanthos humilis

Anigozanthos humilis

Anigozanthos manglesii

KANGAROO PAW  

|

  

41



Sowerbaea laxiflora

42  


|

  LILY


Lily 

‘Lily’ is a general term used for a variety of flowering plant Genera. 

In Yellagonga Regional Park there are at least 10 species of plants that can be considered lilies. These 

include, Milkmaids (Burchadia congesta), Pale Grass Lily (Caesia micrantha), Blueberry Lily (or 

Black-Anther Flax Lily, Blue Flax Lily, Native Flax, Spreading Flax Lily) (Dianella revoluta), 

Chocolate Lily (or Purple Lily) (Dichopogon capillipes), Purple Tassels (or Vanilla Lily) (Sowerbaea 



laxiflora), Fringed Lily (Thysanotus manglesianus), Twining Fringed Lily (Thysanotus patersonii), 

Leafless Fringed Lily (Thysanotus sparteus), Three-Stammered Fringed Lily (Thysanotus triandrus

and the Thysanotus arenarius (no common name). The Aboriginal name Tjunguri (or Tjungoori) is often 

applied to the Twining Fringe Lily, although this is probably not a Nyungar word.

Many lilies are very important to Nyungar people due to their nourishing root tubers. Roots were an essential 

part of the diet of traditional Nyungar people and various species of lilies produce an abundance of edible 

roots. Milkmaids for example, have fleshy white roots around 5 millimetres thick which are a good source 

of starch. Nyungars can also obtain edible roots from the Blueberry Lily, Chocolate Lily, Purple 

Tassels, Fringed Lily and Twining Fringe Lily. Roots are either eaten raw, steamed in an earth oven, 

roasted over hot coals or rolled in hot ash. Some roots, such as those of the Twining Fringe Lily are 

sometimes ground into a paste and made into cakes.

Species found in Yellagonga Regional Park:



 

ƒ

Burchadia congesta



 

ƒ

Caesia micrantha



 

ƒ

Dianella revoluta



 

ƒ

Dichopogon capillipes



 

ƒ

Sowerbaea laxiflora



 

ƒ

Thysanotus arenarius



 

ƒ

Thysanotus manglesianus



 

ƒ

Thysanotus patersonii



 

ƒ

Thysanotus sparteus



 

ƒ

Thysanotus triandrus

LILY  

|

  



43

Burchadia congesta

44  


|

  LILY


Some lilies also produce an edible fruit or seed. The Blueberry Lily produces a small, blue berry which is 

sweet to taste. Other lilies, including the Twining Fringe Lily also have edible flowers and stems. This lily 

can be ground after roasting and the resulting green powder can be eaten with roots.

Thysanotus sparteus

Dichopogon capillipes

Dianella revoluta

Thysanotus manglesianus

Thysanotus triandrus

Thysanotus triandrus

LILY  


|

  

45



Melaleuca rhaphiophylla

46  


|

  MELALEUCA



Melaleuca

Yowarl


Melaleuca’s are sometimes called ‘teatrees’ or ‘paperbarks’ and are often characterised by their flaky, 

layered bark.

In Yellagonga Regional Park there are at least 2 species of melaleucas, the Chenille Honeymyrtle 

(Melaleuca huegelii) and the Swamp Paperbark (or Freshwater Paperbark) (Melaleuca rhaphiophylla). 

The Nyungar name for the Swamp Paperbark is Yowarl (or Bibool Boorn, Yiembak).

Various melaleuca species are extremely important to Aboriginal people. For local Nyungars, the Swamp 

Paperbark is probably one of the most significant plant species in the region. The bark of this melaleuca is 

thin and papery and can be used for a variety of purposes. Long strips of the bark for example, can be used 

as roofing for mia-mias (shelters) and smaller pieces can be used to carry water or to hold food.

Melaleuca bark is frequently used in Nyungar cooking. Meat dishes, such as kweeyar (frogs), djildjit (fish) 

or yonga (kangaroo), are often wrapped in the bark of the Yowarl before being placed on hot coals or in an 

earth oven. 

The bark of the Yowarl can also be used as a torch. After tightly rolling long pieces of bark, one end can be 

set alight and the high oil content of the bark keeps the torch smouldering.

Melaleuca leaves are also used by Nyungar people for medicinal purposes. The leaves are either sucked, 

chewed or crushed and inhaled to treat head colds and flu. Green leaves from the Swamp Paperbark 

and the Chenille Honeymyrtle are also used for smoking ceremonies because of the pleasant aroma the 

Species found in Yellagonga Regional Park:



 

ƒ

Melaleuca huegelii



 

ƒ

Melaleuca rhaphiophylla

MELALEUCA  

|

  



47

Melaleuca huegelii

48  


|

  MELALEUCA



oil in the leaves lets off. A type of tea can also be made by soaking the leaves in boiling water, which is why 

the early colonists used the term ‘Teatree’ to refer to this plant.

The flowers of the Swamp Paperbark and the Chenille Honeymyrtle are also important sources of 

honey. Similar to other flowering plants, the honey is either sucked directly from the flower or the blossoms 

are soaked in water to create a sweet drink.

Melaleuca rhaphiophylla

Melaleuca rhaphiophylla

Melaleuca rhaphiophylla

Melaleuca rhaphiophylla

Melaleuca huegelii

Melaleuca rhaphiophylla

MELALEUCA  

|

  

49



Thelymitra crinita

50  


|

  ORCHID


Orchid

Kararr 


The Orchidaceae Family is the largest family of flowering plants, many of which are highly prized for their 

decorative blooms.

In Yellagonga Regional Park, there are at least 14 species of orchids which have been identified, including 

the Carousel Spider Orchid (Caladenia arenicola), Cowslip Orchid (or Primrose Orchid) (Caladenia 



flava), Pink Fairy Orchid (or Pink Fairies) (Caladenia latifolia), Common White Spider Orchid (or 

Yellow Spider Orchid) (Caladenia longicauda), Leaping Spider Orchid (Caladenia macrostylis), White 

Fairy Orchid (Caladenia marginata), Donkey Orchid (Diuris corymbosa), Common Donkey Orchid 

(Diuris longifolia), Purple Enamel Orchid (Elythranthera brunonis), Blue Fairy Orchid (or Blue Beard) 

(Pheladenia deformis), Jug Orchid (Pterostylis recurva), Banded Greenhood (Pterostylis vittate), Red 

Beaks (or Undertaker Orchid) (Pyrorchis nigricans) and Blue Lady Orchid (or Queen Orchid, Lily 

Orchid) (Thelymitra crinita). Most Nyungar names for orchids are no longer known, however, the Spider 

Orchids (Caladenia sp.) are known as Kararr (or Kar).

Species found in Yellagonga Regional Park:

 

ƒ

Caladenia arenicola



 

ƒ

Caladenia flava



 

ƒ

Caladenia latifolia



 

ƒ

Caladenia longicauda



 

ƒ

Caladenia macrostylis



 

ƒ

Caladenia marginata



 

ƒ

Diuris corymbosa



 

ƒ

Diuris longifolia



 

ƒ

Elythranthera brunonis



 

ƒ

Pheladenia deformis



 

ƒ

Pterostylis recurva



 

ƒ

Pterostylis vittate



 

ƒ

Pyrorchis nigricans



 

ƒ

Thelymitra crinita

ORCHID  

|

  



51

Diuris corymbosa

52  


|

  ORCHID


In Australia, we have become accustomed to the ‘Protected’ status of orchids. However, in the past, many 

orchids were considered an important food source. Several early explorers and colonists, including George 

Grey, James Drummond, Robert Brough Smyth and George Fletcher Moore, noted the use of orchids for 

food. These early observers identified the root tubers of various orchids, including the Banded Greenhood 

and Red Beaks, as being highly sought after by Nyungars. Roots can either be roasted or baked in hot 

ashes, or pounded into a paste and made into cakes.



Caladenia macrostylis

Caladenia latifolia

Pheladenia deformis

Caladenia flava

Caladenia arenicola

Caladenia longicauda

Elythranthera brunonis

Pterostylis recurva

ORCHID  


|

  

53



Templetonia retusa

54  


|

  PEA FLOWER



Pea Flower

 

Koorla, Koorpa, Koweda, Marno, 



Pulboorn, Puyenak, Yackal  Djarr

Pea flowers belong to the Fabaceae Family, a large group of flowering plants commonly referred to as the 

Legume Family or the Pea Family.

There are at least 12 pea flowers in Yellagonga Regional Park and several of the Nyungar names for these 

plants are known. The Native Wisteria (or Wild Sarsaparilla) (Hardenbergia comptoniana) is known 

as the Koorla (or Koorlo), the Devil’s Pins (or Needle-Leaved Hovea) (Hovea pungens) is known as 

the Puyenak (or Buyenak), the Green Stinkwood (Jacksonia sternbergiana) is known as the Koorpa (or 

Kapur, Mondil, Mondum), the Scarlet Runner (or Running Postman) (Kennedia prostrata) is known 

as the Pulboorn (or Pulbarn, Mirdadjet), Cockies Tongues (or Common Templetonia) (Templetonia 

retusa) is known as 

Yackal Djarr, Swishbush (or Golden Spray) (Viminaria juncea) is known as Koweda 

(or Kower, Kweda) and the Marno (Daviesia divaricata) is known commonly by its Nyungar name. The 

Waldjumi (Jacksonia sericea) is also known commonly by its Aboriginal name, but ‘Waldjumi’ is probably 

not a Nyungar word. Yellagonga Regional Park is also home to the Common Brown Pea (Bossiaea 

eriocarpa), Common Hovea (Hovea trisperma [var. trisperma]), Grey Stinkwood (Jacksonia furcellata

and Granny Bonnets (or Lamb Poison) (Isotropis cuneifolia).

Species found in Yellagonga Regional Park:

 

ƒ

Bossiaea eriocarpa



 

ƒ

Daviesia divaricata



 

ƒ

Hardenbergia comptoniana



 

ƒ

Hovea pungens



 

ƒ

Hovea trisperma  



(var. trisperma)

 

ƒ

Isotropis cuneifolia



 

ƒ

Jacksonia furcellata



 

ƒ

Jacksonia sericea



 

ƒ

Jacksonia sternbergiana



 

ƒ

Kennedia prostrata



 

ƒ

Templetonia retusa



 

ƒ

Viminaria juncea

PEA FLOWER  

|

  



55

Isotropis cuneifolia

56  


|

  PEA FLOWER



Pea flowers are varyingly important to Nyungar people. The twining, green stems of the Koorla for example, 

can be used as string. However, the purple flowers are never eaten.

The pea flower Koweda, is known to be useful to Nyungar people. This plant has strong, flexible branches 

which are used by Nyungars when building mia-mias (shelters). The branches can be used in addition to 

more leafy branches, such as those from zamia plants (Macrozamia sp.), as well as bark, from such trees 

as the Swamp Paperbark (Melaleuca rhaphiophylla).

The Pulboorn is not known to have been useful to Nyungars, although the early colonists used this plant for 

making tea. The leaves were rolled into a ball and infused in boiling water 

for two or three minutes before being drunk.

The early colonists considered some of the other pea flower plants to 

be dangerous and went to great lengths to remove them from the land. 

Granny Bonnets were also called Lamb Poison as hungry sheep would 

be poisoned after eating them. The Stinkwood pea flowers (Jacksonia 

sp.) were also undesirable to the colonists as they let off an unpleasant 

odour when burnt.



Kennedia prostrata

Viminaria juncea

Jacksonia sternbergiana

Hardenbergia comptoniana

Jacksonia furcellata

Daviesia divaricata

Hovea trisperma  

(var. trisperma)

Jacksonia sericea

PEA FLOWER  

|

  

57



Baumea preissii

58  


|

  RUSH SEDGE



Rush,  Sedge

Waakal Ngarnak 

Rushes and sedges are members of the Poales Order of plants and are characterised by their grass-like 

structure.

There are at least 10 species of rushes and sedges in Yellagonga Regional Park including the Jointed 

Rush (or Jointed Twig Rush, Jointed Twig Sedge) (Baumea articulata), Broad Twig Sedge (Baumea 



preissii), Marsh Club-Rush (Bolboschoenus caldwellii), Tall Sedge (Carex appressa), Tassel Sedge (or 

Razor Sedge) (Carex fascicularis), Knotted Club Rush (Ficinia nodosa), Pale Rush (or Giant Rush) 

(Juncus pallidus), Pithy Sword-Sedge (or Common Sword-Sedge) (Lepidosperma longitudinale), 

Semaphore Sedge (Mesomelaena pseudostygia) and Lake Club-Rush (or Lake Club-Sedge, River 

Club-Rush) (Schoenoplectus validus). 

The Nyungar names for specific species of rushes and sedges are not known. However, many are referred 

to as Waakal Ngarnak, named after the Waakal (or Wagul, Wagyl, Waugal, Waagal), sometimes called 

the Rainbow Serpent. Stories from the Nyungar Dreaming tell of how pieces of the Waakal’s beard fell off 

as he twisted and wound his way through the country. Where his beard fell off, the rushes and sedges grew. 

Many rushes and sedges are therefore known as Waakal Ngarnak (Waakal Beard).

Various species of rushes and sedges around Australia are utilised by Aboriginal people for their roots. It is 

likely that the roots of many species of rushes and sedges in the Joondalup region were eaten by Nyungars

Species found in Yellagonga Regional Park:

 

ƒ

Baumea articulata



 

ƒ

Baumea preissii



 

ƒ

Bolboschoenus caldwellii



 

ƒ

Carex appressa



 

ƒ

Carex fascicularis



 

ƒ

Ficinia nodosa



 

ƒ

Juncus pallidus



 

ƒ

Lepidosperma longitudinale



 

ƒ

Mesomelaena pseudostygia



 

ƒ

Schoenoplectus validus

RUSH SEDGE  

|

  



59

Mesomelaena pseudostygia

60  


|

  RUSH SEDGE



however, only the Marsh Club Rush has been positively identified from early accounts. Explorer, John 

Edward Eyre, early naturalist, George French Angas, and colonist, Robert Brough Smyth, described the 

Marsh Club Rush as having root tubers the size of walnuts which were hard and oily. Eyre observed that 

the roots were prepared first by roasting and were then ground into thin, flat cakes. Numerous early colonial 

accounts also speak of another rush, known by the Nyungar name Yanchet (or Yange, Yanjet, Yandjet). 

The Yanchet was said to be eaten raw by Nyungar people in vast quantities, although it is not known 

exactly which species this refers to.

Many species of rushes and sedges are used by Nyungar people to locate water. Nyungars know that you 

can always find fresh water under species such as the Pithy Sword-Sedge, the Semaphore Sedge and 

the Knotted Club-Rush. 

The leaves of rushes and sedges are also used in weaving. The leaves are woven to create nets which are 

used as seines to catch djildjit (fish) and yakan (turtle). Rushes and sedges can also be woven to create 

baskets and mats and the leaves of many species are used as string. 

In addition, several species of rushes and sedges with cylindrical leaves, such as the Jointed Rush, are 

sometimes hollowed out. The resulting ‘pipe’ can be used as a snorkel when hunting yerderap (ducks) and 

other water fowl.



Baumea preissii

Baumea articulata

Mesomelaena pseudostygia

Ficinia nodosa

Baumea articulata

RUSH SEDGE  

|

  

61



Solanum symonii

62  


|

  SOLANUM



Solanum

The term Solanum refers to a large, diverse Genus of plants, of which the common tomato, potato and 

eggplant are all members. 

Solanums are common in Australia, particularly in desert areas where they are known as Bush Tomatoes, 

Bush Raisins and Kangaroo Apples. There is at least 1 species of Solanum that grows in the 

Yellagonga Regional Park area, the Solanum symonii (no common name).

There are many species of Solanum which are edible, and in the central desert region, many Solanum 

species are staple foods. The Solanum symonii grows a small, edible berry that turns purple-black when 

ripe. This berry however, is somewhat bitter to eat and it is unlikely that traditional Nyungar people prized it 

as a bush food. 

It should be noted that there are numerous poisonous species of Solanum in Australia and it would be 

unwise to taste any such fruits without specialised, local knowledge. 

Species found in Yellagonga Regional Park:

 

ƒ

Solanum symonii



Solanum symonii

Solanum symonii

SOLANUM  

|

  

63



Kunzea glabrescens

64  


|

  SPEARWOOD



Spearwood

Kitja Boorn

Spearwood plants are members of the Kunzea Genus. There are at least 2 spearwoods in Yellagonga 

Regional Park, the Kunzea glabrescens (usually known as Spearwood) and the Native Tea (or 

Spearwood, Yellow Kunzea) (Kunzea ericifolia). Nyungar people called the Native Tea plant Kitja 

Boorn (or Poorndil, Condil).

As its English name suggests, spearwood plants are used by Nyungar people in spear-making. Spears 

produced from the Kitja Boorn can be used to hunt animals in small swamps and water holes. 

The early colonists found spearwoods useful plants also. The Kitja Boorn was used for making tea, hence 

the name Native Tea. The tea produced by this spearwood was considered not only pleasant, but was 

also used as a tonic. In more recent times, the stems of the Kitja Boorn have been used in market gardens 

as bean-sticks as well as in the construction of crayfish pots. 

Species found in Yellagonga Regional Park:

 

ƒ

Kunzea ericifolia



 

ƒ

Kunzea glabrescens

 

Kunzea ericifolia

 

Kunzea ericifolia



Kunzea glabrescens



 courtesy M. Fagg,  



Australian National Botanic Gardens

SPEARWOOD  

|

  

65



Acacia lasiocarpa

66  


|

  WATTLE


Wattle 

Coojong, Panjang, Wilyawa

Wattles belong to the Acacia Genus and are well-known throughout Australia for their bright yellow flowers. 

The Golden Wattle (Acacia pycnantha), is in fact Australia’s national flower.

There are at least 7 species of wattle in Yellagonga Regional Park and the Nyungar names of 3 of these 

species are well known. The Red-Eyed Wattle (Acacia cyclops) is known as the Wilyawa (or Woolya 

Wah), the Orange Wattle (or Black Wattle) (Acacia saligna) is known as the Coojong (or Cujong, 

Kalyung, Kileyung, Kudjong), and the Panjang (or Pajang) (Acacia lasiocarpa) is known commonly by 

its Nyungar name. Other species present in Yellagonga Regional Park include the Rigid Wattle (Acacia 

cochlearis), Prickly Moses (Acacia pulchella), Grass Wattle (Acacia willdenowiana) and the Acacia 

huegelii (no common name).

For Nyungar people, wattles are extremely important plants. Wattle seeds for example, are a very good 

source of fats, protein and carbohydrates. The Wilyawa and the Coojong both have edible seeds. The 

seeds of the Coojong can be eaten raw, and the seeds of the Wilyawa can be ground into a flour and 

baked into damper.

For local Nyungars, the Wilyawa is probably the most important wattle in Yellagonga Regional Park. As 

well as using the seeds for making damper, the green seed pods are used for a variety of purposes. For 

instance, a pod can be crushed in the hands to release a sticky juice which, when a little water is added, 

can be used as a creamy sunscreen and an insect repellent. This cream is also used to treat eczema. If a 

Species found in Yellagonga Regional Park:



 

ƒ

Acacia cochlearis



 

ƒ

Acacia cyclops



 

ƒ

Acacia huegelii



 

ƒ

Acacia lasiocarpa



 

ƒ

Acacia pulchella



 

ƒ

Acacia saligna



 

ƒ

Acacia willdenowiana

WATTLE  

|

  



67

Acacia saligna

68  


|

  WATTLE


little more water is added, the pods can be rubbed between the hands and used as a soap or cleanser. 

Elsewhere in Australia, similar wattles have been called ‘Soap Wattles’.

The Wilyawa is also an important source of gum. The gum that exudes from the trunk is edible and can be 

chewed like chewing gum. Other wattle species also produce edible gums that can be sucked. These gums 

can act as a purgative and are used by Nyungar people to alleviate constipation. Wattle gum can also be 

soaked in water to create a glue.

Many wattle species, including the Wilyawa, are home to grubs, sometimes known as Bardi Grubs or 

Witchetty Grubs. When these grubs are found in rotting wattle trees, they are roasted over hot coals or 

in hot ashes before eating. Many early explorers, such as George Grey and Edward John Eyre, noted that 

grubs were harvested from both wattle trees and Grass Trees (Xanthorrhoea preissii). Those from wattle 

trees are larger but not as plentiful as those from Grass Trees. 

The wood of many species of wattle around Australia is also extensively used by Aborigines. Nyungar 

people use Acacia wood for making spear heads, kitjs (spears), wannas (digging sticks) and shields. Wattle 

tree-trunks can also be used as poles for constructing mia-mias (shelters), as they grow straight and are 

light to carry. The early colonists used Acacia wood for such things as gunstocks and fence posts.

Wattle bark is also important for tying items together. The bark can be stripped off the tree easily and then 

oiled with kangaroo fat or goanna oil to make it pliable. Many species of wattle are also known to have 

highly astringent bark. According to the author Jennifer Hagger, the early colonists used Acacia bark to 

make decoctions or infusions to treat ailments such as diarrhoea and eye conditions.

Acacia cochlearis

Acacia willdenowiana

Acacia pulchella

Acacia huegelii

Acacia cyclops

WATTLE  


|

  

69



Macrozamia fraseri

70  


|

  ZAMIA


Zamia

Bayu, Djiridji

Zamias belong to the Cycadales Family of plants, which refer to a number of ancient species dating back 

to the Triassic period. Now representing only a minor part of the Plant Kingdom, Cycadales were once 

extremely common.

1 species of zamia exists in Yellagonga Regional Park, the Sandplain Zamia (Macrozamia fraseri). 

Nyungar people called this zamia Djiridji (or Dyergee, Girijee, Jeerajee). The bright, orange seeds  

of the Djiridji were called bayu (or booyoo, boya, byyu).

The Djiridji produce large seed pods which look somewhat like green pineapples. These pods are home 

to a number of orange bayu which contain significant levels of toxins. Some Aboriginal people consider 

bayu a delicacy and different Aboriginal groups around Australia undertake various preparatory processes 

before eating them. In south-western Australia the bayu are sometimes collected in a reed bag which 

is then soaked in running water for a period of time to leach out the toxins. The seeds are then buried 

underground, often for 6 months or more. After this time, Nyungar people peel the seeds and eat only the 

orange skin. Elsewhere in Australia, it is the seeds themselves that are eaten, and these are often crushed 

into a porridge-like meal and then formed into cakes and roasted in ashes. Some Aboriginal groups soak 

the seeds in water for an extended period of time and many do not bury them. Some early botanists and 

colonists, including James Drummond and George Fletcher Moore believed the bayu to be a culturally 

significant food for traditional Nyungar people.

Many early explorers and colonists ate the attractive orange zamia seeds without knowledge of their toxicity. 

Disastrous encounters with the seeds of the Djiridji were recorded as early as 1697 by the crew of the 

Dutch voyage of Willem de Vlamingh. The crew were exploring the land around the Swan River when they 

Species found in Yellagonga Regional Park:

 

ƒ

Macrozamia fraseri

ZAMIA  

|

  



71

Macrozamia fraseri

72  


|

  ZAMIA


ate several raw bayu which they described as tasting like Dutch broad beans. According to the ship’s log, 

within three hours, they had begun to “vomit so violently that there was hardly any distinction between 



death and us.” 

The Djiridji also produces a cotton-like substance around the base of the plant. This native cotton is very 

soft and absorbent and was used by traditional Nyungar women for feminine hygiene purposes. The native 

cotton can also be used in the coolamon (carrying vessel) as a soft lining for babies to sleep on as they are 

carried from place to place. Many early colonists also utilised this native cotton as tinder for lighting fires.

The fronds of the Djiridji are also useful to Nyungar people. The large palm-like leaves are used for shade 

and occasionally in the roofing of the mia-mia (shelter). The long zamia leaves can also be removed from 

their stem and used as a strong string to tie objects together. 

Many early colonists took advantage of the high starch content of zamias. Early botanist James Drummond 

recorded that some of the colonisers prepared quantities of starch by grating down peeled seeds and 

pouring water over the mass. The vegetable matter would then separate and leave a starch at the bottom, 

similar to arrowroot.



Macrozamia fraseri

Macrozamia fraseri

Macrozamia fraseri

Macrozamia fraseri

Macrozamia fraseri

ZAMIA  


|

  

73



Banksia grandis

74  


|

  APPENDIX 1



Appendix 1

Species List

The following Species List has been assembled from several different resources and, as such, contains 

the Nyungar names for plants that have been documented by various people in different parts of Nyungar 

Country. Some names, particularly those from the Great Southern and Wheatbelt regions of Western 

Australia may not have been used in Mooro Country. All Nyungar names have therefore been referenced, so 

that readers may further explore their derivation.

(most frequently used name(s) is 





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