Aboriginal affairs

‘If we don’t speak to anybody, who’s going to learn it?’

Noongar Elder Eliza Woods has endless stories to tell. When sitting down with her it doesn’t take long to realise she has a fierce passion for passing on these stories, and for keeping them alive.

In October 2018, Curtin University signed an agreement with Whadjuk Noongar elders to develop a bush university, with a vision to engage students in projects with Noongar people and culture. Research projects, placements and cultural immersion courses are all being developed as part of Curtin’s Reconciliation Action Plan.

The base for this work is Nowanup, a property 150km north-east of Albany in Western Austalia’s Great Southern region. Since 2007, Noongar Elder Eugene Eades has been running a cultural knowledge camp at Nowanup with help from his sister Eliza Woods and other family members.

Passing on knowledge is an integral part of Noongar culture, and Eugene Eades runs programs for Indigenous and wadjela (white) people to bridge gaps in knowledge of Noongar culture, and to connect back to country.

This photo essay features the voices of Noongar elders Eugene Eades and Eliza Woods. The song “Nidja Noongar Boodja” is played and sung by Eugene Eades.

Curtin student journalist Isabella Clarke travelled to Nowanup courtesy of Affinity Australia Tours.