Welcome the Noongar Season of Bunuru

01 Feb

Bunuru is known as the second summer and is hottest time of the year with little to no rain.

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Learn more about the Noongar Seasons below.

Welcome the Noongar Season of Bunuru

Bunuru is known as the second summer and is hottest time of the year with little to no rain. Bunuru is represented by the colour orange and runs from February to March (late summer to early autumn). Hot easterly winds continue with a cooling seas breeze on the coast. Traditionally fish, crabs and mussels were the main food source in this season. Marron and gilgies were also collected from the wetlands. In terms of plant-based nutrition, wattles, banksia blossoms and various roots were eaten at this time.

Out in the bush and around Perth you will see many white flowering gums are in full bloom this season. These provide sweet nectar for birds and insects. Examples include Ghost Gums, Jarrah and Marri.  The word Marri means “blood” which refers to the dark red gum that runs down the bark. The Marri tree has many traditional uses and is known as the medicine tree. The sap is used to treat upset stomachs or used as a mouth wash or disinfectant as the tannins have antiseptic properties.  The blossoms are also soaked in water to make a sweet drink and the seeds eaten later in the year.

The fruit of the female Zamia plants (Macrozamia riedlei) begin to ripen in February and March. The female plants are larger than the males and have big cones growing in the centre of the plant which are covered by masses of a cotton wool like substance. The seed cone changes colour from green to bright red as the hot weather continues.  Once the seeds are red and ripe, they become attractive to animals like the emu that is able to eat the toxic seeds with no ill effects. Noongar women used to harvest and prepare these ripe fruits for later consumption by a process of soaking and burying the seeds for several weeks to remove the toxins. Eaten without soaking, these seeds are toxic to humans and caused serious illness to early explorers.

When going for a beach walk, you may smell the coastal daisybush (Olearia axillaris) which is in flower. Other coastal plants that provided food are the female Rhagodia baccata bushes which produce edible red berries and Acacia cyclops seeds can still be collected inside their curly pods.

This is a difficult time of year for wildlife due to the scarcity of water and the fact many wetlands in the Perth area have been filled in for development. You can assist wildlife during this very dry time of year by ensuring you have water available in your backyard for them. This can be in a bird bath, small pond for frogs or just a container on the ground.  Birds like to use water bowls that are near trees and bushes and elevated safely away from pets. If you have a small pond or a water container in your yard, make sure you have some rocks and sticks inside to allow any creatures that may fall in, a means of escape. Making sure access to pools is restricted is also important to prevent any animals trying to cool down or drink the pool water from falling in and drowning. If you find a heat stressed animal, provide it with water and shelter and call Wildcare on 9474 9055 if it doesn’t look to be recovering.