Australian Rose Maze & Three Women’s Stories
Yoondi’s journey through the 20th Century
The impact of European settlement has made it difficult to keep alive our Noongar traditions and history, and extensive periods of the 20th Century involved painful experiences which are hard to talk about. In the Rose Maze we draw together threads of our local history in the story of Yoondi, a symbolic Noongar woman. The joy of family is a special part of her life story:
1900 – 1920: ‘Sometimes Mum showed us how to find bush tucker. Sometimes Dad showed us how to catch goanna and cook it. That was really good. When Show time come we all dressed up. Wore our best clothes to go into town. We got fairy floss there and licorice and peppermint walking sticks.’
Dotted through the maze are mosaics that enrich Yoondi’s words – take your time to find and interpret them!
Yoondi’s Mia Mia & Bush Pockets
A contemporary Noongar site!
The campsite at Yoondi’s Mia Mia was not originally part of The Kodja Place plan, it just happened one day when we built and gathered around a campfire, and were joined by the Wadjelas (non-Indigenous) who were working with us on The Kodja Place displays. Now it’s the heart of The Kodja Place. Book Jack’s Indigenous Tours at The Kodja Place for the special experience of billy tea and damper at Yoondi’s Mia Mia.
A mia mia, or kornt, is a traditional weather-proof dome structure made from branches, twigs and bark. They were quite quick and easy to make, and when the family group moved on, they were left in place to be used at another time.
Local wildflowers and bush tucker plants, including cummuk and wattles, grow in small ‘bush pockets’ near Yoondi’s Mia Mia. Yoondi’s storyline curves through this courtyard area and beyond – follow it to discover interesting connections.
Tracing our story in the land
The land, our local traditions and our changing culture are part of the unfolding story along the Kodj Gallery. A contemporary Noongar mural conveys the land’s importance to our customs and beliefs, and traditional tools show that our people farmed the land too – but the trees were left standing! Using a kodj stone-axe, like the one on display, Noongar men climbed trees in search of bush tucker, including birds’ eggs and possums.
Settlers brought new tools and new land uses that restricted our access to land and bush foods. To survive, we became part of the process of developing Kojonup’s farmland:
“We’d go from farm to farm, farm to farm by horse and cart doing the work … Burning up, stick picking, poison grubbing – all the jobs.” Elvie Eades Riley, local Noongar Elder
Tracks of yonger, waitch and koomal add another special dimension to the story.
Where all local cultures can be together, side by side
Through our Storyplace words and photos, artworks and videos we share many parts of our lives and history, and place our stories in the context of the wider Kojonup community, now and in the past. We show that our culture is alive and our lifestyle is contemporary. Our people have contributed to the development of Kojonup since settlement, including The Kodja Place.
Through displays like the Acknowledgement Wall and Reserve House, we talk about the hard times: the effect of government policies, the struggles to overcome exclusion and rejection, and the difficulties of adapting to life and work in a dominant Wadjela world.
Humour is a big part of our lives and our story:
‘Uncle Ken Riley used to organise a contract for poison grubbing or stick picking. Then he’d round up the boys, the number required to do the job, and off we’d go – anyone old enough to go … I really miss it because everyone was together. It wasn’t easy, it was hard work, but it was made fun by our Noongar attitude towards things – finding the humorous side to everything.’ Craig McVee