Beaming Green

Lessons from Indigenous Australia may hold a key to a sustainable future

March 03, 2021 Season 1 Episode 19
Beaming Green
Lessons from Indigenous Australia may hold a key to a sustainable future
Beaming Green
Lessons from Indigenous Australia may hold a key to a sustainable future
Mar 03, 2021 Season 1 Episode 19

Indigenous Australians are the first-known human inhabitants of the Australian continent and its nearby islands. The term includes both the Torres Strait Islanders and the Aboriginal People, who together make up about 2.5% of Australia's population.

Scientists believe Indigenous Australians arrived in Australia between 40,000 and 70,000 years ago, but Aboriginal history says "we have been here since time began".

Non-Indigenous Australians can learn a great deal from these ancient custodians. Their deep connection to country, with thousands of years lived experience on the land, provides unique expertise in managing Australia's land and water in a more sustainable way.

In this episode I speak with Paul Burragun (Uncle Boomerang), who is a Birrinburra, Bundjalung, Wangerriburra & Yuggera Turrbal man. Paul has been developing and delivering cultural workshops in schools and early learning centres for the past 20 years in South East Queensland and North Eastern NSW.

Paul shares his journey as an Aboriginal man, his ancestry and some of the traditions and customs that have shaped his life.

We talk about how:

  • sharing songlines keeps valuable information from the past alive
  • stars connect to the songlines
  • many languages and Aboriginal dialects there were and some of the interpretations between clans
  • Aboriginals were listed under the local Flora and Fauna Act until 1967
  • Aboriginal people traditionally used bush tucker
  • in Paul's country there are six seasons, rather than four
  • sharing Aboriginal customs and traditions with communities in his region is his passion.

I really had a great time speaking with Paul and would recommend you listen to this podcast and share it with your friends and family to raise awareness of Aboriginal traditions and customs.

If you would like to get information about the programs on offer visit

Show Notes Transcript

Indigenous Australians are the first-known human inhabitants of the Australian continent and its nearby islands. The term includes both the Torres Strait Islanders and the Aboriginal People, who together make up about 2.5% of Australia's population.

Scientists believe Indigenous Australians arrived in Australia between 40,000 and 70,000 years ago, but Aboriginal history says "we have been here since time began".

Non-Indigenous Australians can learn a great deal from these ancient custodians. Their deep connection to country, with thousands of years lived experience on the land, provides unique expertise in managing Australia's land and water in a more sustainable way.

In this episode I speak with Paul Burragun (Uncle Boomerang), who is a Birrinburra, Bundjalung, Wangerriburra & Yuggera Turrbal man. Paul has been developing and delivering cultural workshops in schools and early learning centres for the past 20 years in South East Queensland and North Eastern NSW.

Paul shares his journey as an Aboriginal man, his ancestry and some of the traditions and customs that have shaped his life.

We talk about how:

  • sharing songlines keeps valuable information from the past alive
  • stars connect to the songlines
  • many languages and Aboriginal dialects there were and some of the interpretations between clans
  • Aboriginals were listed under the local Flora and Fauna Act until 1967
  • Aboriginal people traditionally used bush tucker
  • in Paul's country there are six seasons, rather than four
  • sharing Aboriginal customs and traditions with communities in his region is his passion.

I really had a great time speaking with Paul and would recommend you listen to this podcast and share it with your friends and family to raise awareness of Aboriginal traditions and customs.

If you would like to get information about the programs on offer visit

Jeremy Melder  00:00

Hello, my name is Jeremy Melder, and I'm the presenter from Beaming Green. Before we start, I would like to acknowledge that this podcast is being held on the traditional lands of the Bundjalung people and pay our respects to elders both past, present and emerging. The Beaming Green podcast is a podcast that will help you take out some of the stress and confusion about how to live your life more sustainably. We do this by introducing you to inspiring people with first-hand experience and expertise who cover aspects of sustainability, from human interest to environmental perspectives, helping you to thrive and enhance your life and the lives of your friends and family. 


Today, I'm really excited to be speaking with Paul Burragun. He's a Beriberi Bundjalung Wangerriburra & Yuggera Turrbal man who was born in Brisbane in Queensland, Australia. Paul now resides in the Numinbah Valley on his grandfather’s people's country. Paul has spent the most part of his life living in southeast Queensland in north eastern New South Wales in an area where he's Aboriginal ancestry originates. He has been developing and delivering cultural workshops in schools and early learning centers. For the past 20 years in these regions. Paul was a member of the boomerang throwing team that represented Australia at the World Boomerang cup in Perth,  in 2014. He was the only Aboriginal person on the team of six, and he came third in the world for hunting steep competition. Please join me in welcoming Paul to bear me. Paul, welcome to Beaming Green. Paul, we met a number of times throughout the last I think four years and I've been to some of your shows, and education sessions.  Paul, you've been teaching children and university students and adults about Aboriginal heritage and Aboriginal culture and the importance of acknowledging that what started you on this journey?


Paul Burragun  02:36

 Your thanks, Jeremy. First of all, I'd just like to talk to you in my grandfather's tongue if I may. in the region Jingerri jingerri = Big hello. My name is Burragunnjahli and that's my Aboriginal name given to me by my grandfather George Roberts (Uncle George) or Poppy George, who is a Bundjalung Birrinburra man from South East Queensland North East New South Wales down in the Numinbah Valley. He was born down near Yamba in Yagal Country, although he never lived there. I was born in Brisbane in Murgrave Park in 1965, lived for Brisbane, North Side, South Side, come down to Nerang moved up to around Bundaberg for a while and back down to Murwillumbah. So, I'm a Turrbal Yuggera, man and Bundjalung Yugenbeh descendant so I speak a little bit of all of those languages. And sometimes most of the time mixed together with English. Yeah, so yeah. Now what got me on the journey, Jeremy and thanks for inviting me to your lovely podcast show. I for many years while growing up, didn't do much school, but spent a lot of time with my grandparents and grandfather walking through the scrub learning I got a passion for my Aboriginal cultural heritage. We have a big mixed my father's side were English Irish convicts sent out here and mum side I think Irish, German and Aboriginal so grandfather George I call him but George Roberts. I used to go with him in the scrub and listen to his stories and basically learn in the outdoors so we wandered through places like Numinbah Valley, Tullabudgera Valley, Currumbin Valley along the coast, we used to go over to straddie and Morton islands and up to Fraser Island. So it wasn't till later in life that I started sharing that at schools. So prior to that, I've done everything, all sorts of jobs for mustering buffalo in Arnhem Land in the early 80s, to picking fruit in Victoria, to longline tuna boats in the Indian Ocean, all around Australia, just traveling and working and meeting people. And that was learning heaps was fun. And then I started youth work, right as an Aboriginal youth worker for local Aboriginal organization, then a health worker for four years as regional health worker. And then I thought I was doing youth programs and men's groups and things like that. And I thought I'd rather just work for myself. So I started my own business, and it's just been booming , and ever since. So that's been basically on and off for the last 20 years since 2001.



Jeremy Melder  06:09



Paul Burragun  06:10

When do you use 20 years, but mind you at the start, I still had to go and mow lawns. And yeah, brickies labor and to make the rent, you know, and the bills, but the last five years, I have, I'm just booked solid every day, two or three bookings the whole year, which is awesome. And I love it. I love. I love sharing the little I know about my Aboriginal ancestry and with young people with anybody, particularly kids, yeah, had so much fun. And I hop up every morning, and I think how blessed I am. Compared to our old people what they went through and it wasn't for them, we wouldn't be here. Yeah. And this hardships and the horrors that they suffered and lived through to have us living so blessed now. And I hope up every morning, I think how wonderful life is I'm going to share my culture with young people. And I'm going to have a ball today. Yeah, I don't care if anyone else does. But as long as I do.


Jeremy Melder  07:16

Yeah, it's interesting, because we were just sharing off line wern't we were talking about the importance of sharing this information. Because you and I, when we went to school, we were taught about the history of our country of Australia. And it was a bit blurred in terms of that interpretation of that. And, and we what you were sharing was quite soulful. Would you like to tell us a little bit about that? I know, we want to get on to talking about sustainability. But this is important. acknowledging our past before we go into our future



Paul Burragun  07:52

year, Jeremy Good point. Well, and when I went to school to what we got taught was very skewed, it was very Europeanized it was very white, you know, there was nothing about our real true black history, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s history, which had been here for 10s of millennium, you know, for up to 60 plus thousand years, they're thinking now, and there's, you know, archaeological studies and stuff going on all the time. You know, thermo luminescence dating now, you know, carbon dating only goes up to 38 to to 40,000 years, but all this wonderful stuff happening now. But yet, the stuff we got taught was very skewed. It was very white, it was only, you know, Sturt, the explorers, the settlers, nothing about, you know, and we all filled out a place and growing up here in that you think, Well, where do we fit in? Yeah, you know, I got to told different stuff by my family and elders and Uncles and Auntie's, you know, where are we, you know, not mentioning us, they don't care for us. You know, and even up until the 67 referendum, I was two years old. You know, prior to that, we were on the Flora And Fauna Act, and we were, you know, classed as animals. Yeah. You know, and, and all the horrible things that have happened in our shared, we have a shared history, but and there's some horrible and what hurts most is the people that want to say, forget about that. You go to, you know, and they hide it, push it under the rug, no, good. You have to understand it. And then move forward together. But you have to reconcile, you know, and a lot of Australians say, Oh, we don't know, you can go to our Prime Minister saying there was no slavery in Australia.


Jeremy Melder  09:50

Well, that’s a contradiction.


Paul Burragun  09:54

So um, but we, you know, I'm sure our old people and their spirits still talk to me went online in the bush. They say to me, we are all living here together. We are Australians, no matter what our cultural heritage or a background, we may have different beliefs, we may have different points of view and opinions. But we are the same inherently and we're here together, we have a shared history. And we have a shared path forward together. So, the best way forward together is to say, you might have for this belief or that understanding, and I respect that, but doesn't mean I agree with it. But I totally respect that we can still sit down and have a laugh and a feed and a couple. Pot of lemon Myrtle tea like we just did here with anyone. And that's what I try and teach, or I make it fun. When I'm talking about teaching in from kindergartens, up to year 12, to colleges to universities. Yeah, I make it fun. And I engage the students. And I say to them, Look, I don't know everything. I'm a student too. I'm a student of life. I'm learning every day and I love it is so much fun. But there's not a day goes by and I don't learn something from someone or, or from juggan, the earth mother knows, you remind me bring me back to might see a pelican gliding way up high and then I'll remember the story grandfather told me, you know, yeah, that's his Totem. It's funny whenever I get some questions and things going on my head, and I look up. And sure enough, you know, what will be there? Choongarra, the Pelican grandfather? He reminded me.


Jeremy Melder  11:40

Yeah, yeah, it's important thing to share those stories, because otherwise they get lost in interpretation. In you know, we don't interpret them very well, as we did when we were growing up. So, what are some of those stories that you're now sharing with kids? You know, what, what's some of those processes that you follow?


Paul Burragun  11:58

So, to engage them, I start off real simple stuff, you know, asking them about what colors on the bottom of the Aboriginal flag or colors on top, because in the middle, what do they stand for, and we unpack that, and we talk about that, and I teach them the language words for those interpretations and meanings. And, and then further on will I'll be teaching them dances, and songs and language in and our language, and songs and stories all connect to country. So, they all have relevance, they are intertwined. Same with the star maps and the songlines, you know, so and I didn't realize that till later in life, and, and I realized what grandfather was trying to teach me, he knew that I would come upon that learning in my own time, and he had a glint in his eye. And now I only realize that glint meant, I know you'll find that true when it's time and I'll be in the bush. And I'll hear or see something, and I'll a language word or a story will come to me. And then I'll realize, Oh, that's what that is. That's associated with that. That's why that's there. And that's there. That's there. It's linked up. Yeah. But he knew back then. Not going to give him it there. Because it'll go in one ear out the other. I'll give him the seed. And it's planted. And yeah. And then he'll come to it, you know, when, when he's when it's his turn for learning. So, I do that sort of stuff, and then play games with them, we would crush up Oka and mix and make traditional paint and we look at traditional artifacts and toys. And always when I tell them the stories, we unpack it at the end. So first ask them simple stuff. What Who? What animals were in that story? Yeah. Can you remember the Aboriginal name that I told you for that animal? Yeah. What? What did you get from that story? Does it have meaning to you? Ah, yeah, you know, don't do this. Or it's okay to do that, or, or seek the approval for this or be respectful of that. So, they all have hidden or not all of them. Some are just fun. Yeah, like songs. So just silly that you have a bit of a giggle and laugh, and you'd be silly. Yeah, it’s good fun. Let go. Let go of yourself and don't take yourself too seriously and have a bit of fun. Yeah, my, one of my nephew's. He said to me the other week. I was at I got invited to this ceremony at men making center up in Arnhem Land. And he said, this just goes to prove he said, these old ladies were sitting there and laughing and  being silly. I haven't found between himself. One of them jumped up and ran across the bora ring, picked up a didgeridoo and started playing and threw it down and run back and was laughing her head off to a friend. Now you'll hear everyone say, or no, that's taboo. Aboriginal women who have been up in the communities where women make and paint them and play them. It's not across the board. So, people believe that all of our cultures, the 600 languages, which is the core of your culture, which, which is songs and your stories and your art and how you're prepared, everything stems around that basic pivotal point. People hear something, they believe it to be true. But you can't throw a blanket across Australia and say, all Aboriginal cultures are the same. No, because they did not know that they had different beliefs, different ceremonies, different spiritual, you know, laws, and you know, all that we're all different.


Jeremy Melder  15:44

So, what we're going to acknowledge is that we're all different. And we just got to embrace all the, all the wonderful differences that we have, you know, rather than focus on the bad things, to focus on the good things, and it's good that you were saying that's good to have a laugh. Yes. And it's interesting that you clarified because I've all this time for that women aren't allowed to play the Didge the didgeridoo at all.


Paul Burragun  16:05

That's what you've heard you hear, and you believe, and paper gets repeated. And it's not necessarily true for all areas of Australia, maybe a lot, and maybe even most, but not all. You know, we're sisters, we have different creative beings and spirit beings and star maps. And you know, the stars are in a different spot in the sky. Then your link to your songlines and your stories. Depending on where you are on the continent, so but you're right, we all basically human doings, non-human beings. Yeah. And we're very brief. We were here for the blink of an eye.


Jeremy Melder  16:43

We are Yeah, I think it's all important, don't we? When we're there


Paul Burragun  16:46

when we're here with I don't celebrate my birthday. And I laugh at all my friends. They send me you know, cards, beautiful gift and, and I don't think I'm that important to have to Why should I celebrate my own birthday? I don't think of myself that highly. Yeah, you know, I'm just a piece of bacteria on the skin of the Earth Mother, along with everyone else. And the way we're treating her not like the old ways, she'd  just wiped us soon. Yeah. And I notice things changing already in the seasons. And the plants are six seasons that I got taught for here. Totally different to the four European so the summer autumn winter spring that came from Europe without they're not valid, and they're not appropriate for this climate. But I've noticed the changes. Yeah,


Jeremy Melder  17:32

yeah. Look, I'd love to get to that, but to the seasons, but I'm really interested because we have a few people that listen from overseas, and they might not know about song line What can you elaborate on songlines, for me? 


Paul Burragun  17:46

Okay, so songlines, these were the sung , stories that was sung in sequences, on locations through the through the landscape. And they will use to map and remember and teach certain important information. So, laws about how to treat country how to respect country and other people's country, meaning another area where other people were residing. And a vast array of other information as well. But the songlines we use to remember everything that they're all people needed to know, you know, from stuff to star navigation to land mapping, animal movements and periods to hunt them when they were mating, or laying eggs, planted information for foods and medicines. Where the water holes are where the freshwater could get fresh water, and most importantly, genealogies, the legal system, ethical expectations, obligations and responsibilities, you know, and all about the creator beings in the spirits. The list goes on.


Jeremy Melder  18:57

Yeah. So, there were, you know, like, there's a lot of, you know, people talking about, you know, Aboriginals did have a system of operation before white man came in here to talk a little bit about that.



Paul Burragun  19:13

Yeah, sure. So, from what I've understood, and I've read a few great books recently, but they would have had to, and they did have governmental systems, they had economies they had thriving economies, you know, trading economies, bartering, swapping, giving things in as gifts of reciprocity, you know, they had to have had, you can't live in in on an island continent for so long, and not be able to live along with and in conjunction with the natural environment jugan the Earth Mother, and to share the resources and maintain them and use them ethically and appropriately for that sustainability. And that's what we losing. And as human beings, we want too much we take too much. And we store too much. And we share less. And we don't need so much. We need much less. Yeah. You know even to what we eat each day to what we bank accounts, how many cars we got or what houses whatever, but that's the way you know. But getting back to the songlines our cultures were entirely stored in memory. So, these songlines, they were guided by the practice of that memory every day, so they depended on the stories and the sun pathways through the landscape. And they allowed our, old peoples to be able to recall every location along vast distances reliably, and net to navigate through them. And these land maps were pathways, over 1000s of kilometers over 1000s of years, passed down through song and story and dance. And some areas you had to get permission to pass through someone else's land. So, you would meet, and they would sing together and have ceremony together and eat together and share their stories were swapped. That's how the songlines can reach right across the continent. Yeah, you know, I was in Perth in 2014 for the world Boomerang cup. I was on the Australian team and my Nunga brother over there Jason Barrow, he said what is gidi gidi? I said, and he pointed at the willy wag tail I said, he called him gd gd over here, we call him gingery gingery. how close you know, so but there is there's record records of the stories and songs that traveled across the country. So, I may change it might be from the Goanna eating this and then changing to an Echidna and it goes into somebody else's land where there's  And so they are all connected. Yeah. Awesome. Aye


Jeremy Melder  22:16

So Awesome, do you feel like these are continuing these stories are being shared?


Paul Burragun  22:24

by a lot of a lot of it's been lost. So, in Australia, they estimate there was around 600 different languages. Yeah, the only other place on the earth that I know of with more languages, PNG Papua New Guinea, but nearly two and a half thousand different languages there was so you know, in Australia, they say 350 different languages, and 250 different dialects, but their languages, you know, in my grandfather's language, there was four different dialects. Yeah. And now you have specific ones for specific roles, you know, whether it was great for another tribe, or for elders-initiated men, only the general one and a special one just for your mother-in-law. (Laughter)


Jeremy Melder  23:08

You know, another passion of mine is about this whole thing about initiation. We talked about this earlier. The rites of passage. Is that being that still going on in the Aboriginal community?


Paul Burragun  23:22

 Yeah, good question, Jeremy, you got to look at it like this. So, I tell people, there's three basic types of Aboriginal folks are urban Aboriginals, that's me living in the city to get access to health care, get access to education, or get access to the shops, I can go and get Chinese for dinner if I want one night. I love Chinese food. And then you've got rural Aboriginals, and then you have remote mine, i.e., Arnhem Land, the ones that don't, you know, see many outsiders, they may have a health clinic, they might have to drive three or four hours or fly to Darwin. So, you got three by so those people that are in their more remote communities, they do practice more than one of their own local languages up to seven or eight, I've heard, right, you know, and they speak them fluently. And they do practice in a lot of circumstances that their traditional cultural practices and beliefs so land management, fire practice regimes, you know, and hunting and, and singing and dancing and having ceremony but then you come into, you know, the rural, and then the urban. Totally different. Yeah, so we're more Europeanized, we may have more education, European education, but we have less traditional education.


Jeremy Melder  24:50

And that's kind of important to be able to share that. It's unfortunate that we don't even learn a language and Aboriginal language in a school because as part of our heritage, would you think that's something that we should be looking at introducing or trying to get the government to act? Not that's part of the acknowledgement process that we did come from an Aboriginal culture.


Paul Burragun  25:11

Yep. And it started to take place, Jeremy in different areas, there's been revivals of languages. There are language apps you can get now, and that's becoming more common and more interest in it from schools, Early Learning Centers. Organizations, so it's, we're reviving and, and restructuring and recouping what we can grasp a hold, but so much has been lost? Too Much has been lost, but it doesn't matter that has been lost, because the bits of language that we can hold on to. And just as our old people evolved over 10s of millennia, you know, we are still evolving. We're static, you know, so, and I see a lot of dance groups now. new songs. Well, that's cool. That's great. new songs, new stories. Yeah, we're evolving. We don't have to hold on to the past. And you're right, we're all living here together. And no matter your cultural heritage, or your background, if you seek out and be part of our shared history. And then you get to know the language and the songs and the stories, some things I tell you now will open up to you that you would never have thought of. Because those strong stories and language have been here for so long, that they connect to country and that means the environment feels you. Yeah, yeah. Not just you feel on the environment. The environment feels you. Yeah.


Jeremy Melder  26:45

Yeah, absolutely. Now remember, when we were, I met you on one of the many times that you were doing a talk you were talking about bush tucker, I think it'd be interesting if you could just go through and I know there's a lot of bush tucker, but you know, some of what are some of the species that is part of Aboriginal bush tucker


Paul Burragun  27:04

here, right across Australia, different areas, different plants, different foods, different ways of making tools, utensils, weapons, different ways of making everyday artifacts. As you walked in this morning. You're seeing three big buckets of Tchullun which is volcanic ash we call oka most people commonly call oka that I'm soaking and mixing and grinding to take to dry and take to school so kids can redo that. Yeah, mix it with water. Then we seen a sandpaper fig tree that only planted probably


probably two months ago, and we got to beautiful beaches, yummy, sweet red sandpaper, figs we get there. But I mean, there's so many invasive and non-endemic species that have been introduced just like animals as well that are very detrimental to the environment. And I mean national parks and they do they do a wonderful job but slowly but surely getting a handle on them. I mean, you've got not only camels and pigs and wild horses, but foxes are also one of the worst night feral cats. You know, they're one of the worst species for killing native animals. cane toads. Yeah. But with the foods, I mean, there, there's a big resurgence in I've been putting in for the last probably 12 years bush tucker Gardens in schools and centers. And a lot of the nurseries that I've been talking to and talking them into getting more traditional local endemic, plant food and medicine species. They'd put them in here and there's a big resurgence some everyone wants to put them in now bush tucker Gardens and they're utilizing them which is awesome. So, there's so many different species. I mean, just in this area, you got things like Midgum berries, wild native Raspberries, native Peanuts, native Mulberries native Banana that you don't eat the Bananas, eat the trunk. You got to roast the trunk. You got all the and all the fruits and vegetables that we have local traditional ones. They're nothing like the introduced European ones. Nothing like Yeah, you got to prepare them different you can eat them at different times. There's so many though. You know you've got all your Myrtles more and more people are getting interested in it and utilize and which is awesome planting them in their gardens at home and


Jeremy Melder  29:39

yeah, absolutely. Now, one of the things I'd love you to share which I know you've put a bit of work into is to show some of the seasonality is the European seasons are a little bit different the way the Aboriginal people look at it. It's a bit different, isn't it? This is how many seasons are there in the in The Aboriginal calendar?


Paul Burragun  30:03

 So, it's all you know, it's my perspective only, but I got taught six seasons, local traditional seasons. And other areas have more. Or the areas have mostly, and they have an extra one like my uncle's more background Townsville, if they have a cyclone, they have an extra season type of season. So that gets sung and stored into that land mapping with the so this season now. We call Nyungal is the sun. Yeah. And it has, so each season has seasonal indicators. So, there's plant and animal indicators. So, I was at a school last year, and it was in the middle of winter. And this teacher said to me, oh, it's cold this winter, isn't it? And I said, What's that? And she said, what do you mean? What's that? I said, winter was that short trying to work her through you see   she said the other season, you know, summer, autumn winter, spring, I said, Where's that from? And then we work back, and I said, Isn't that from Europe? And she said, Yeah, I said, wouldn't you like to know the proper season for here? This season would draw wonder that means the tea trees of land, the mullet Fisher leaving the river the Goyung are mullet fish, the oysters are ready (Kingyingarra). Yeah. And I started rattling off all the different indicators and what's ready and what she could harvest in one animal animals where you know, certain seasons the possums are fat or the turtles or fat or the Gurramun the kangaroos are fat? Yeah. So, they're ready to eat. So, you know, those six seasons? be silly not to learn and utilize those. Yeah, rather than talking some foreign. And same goes for the language it would as you went to mentioned before, Jeremy about learning, you know, a lot of schools they learn French or German. Yeah.


Jeremy Melder  32:19

You know, far away. Yeah. So, these seasons can be used in acknowledging your planting cycles,


Paul Burragun  32:33

eating cycles, and so on. Animal cycles Yeah, and they linked to the star maps, right? So, at a certain time of year, your stars are in a certain position. Yep. And that will remind you of a song or a story and you'll sing that song or story on country. And then you'll see the plants flowering. Yeah, that the magpies might be mating, you know, swooping because they're mating & nesting. And then you know, it's time to go you can make your string from your native hibiscus or your fire sticks or go to the river and get your Kenyan Gari or oysters. And you go young leaving it you know, they've gone up north and when they come back, there'll be full a row, you know,


Jeremy Melder  33:14



Paul Burragun  33:15

different times a year, but those six seasons yet this season we're in now we call neon, which means hot, right? And other seasonal indicators like the one before we called Shalane chalon is rainbow. So you get a lot of rain, you get rainbows. That's the name of the season chalon the one before kambala mwangura. So that's in around September, October, which we call you're in European one spring. Yeah. So that's, that's cool. still be cool but getting warmer. And the silky oak trees are flowering, which means the turtles are fat and you can hunt sea turtles. Yeah. And the bees are becoming active you know your native bees. So, you know, next month, next season, I go collect Honey. Yeah. So, once you know all that stuff and link the songs, to the stories to the star maps to the country, yeah, you get connected properly to the language, you know,


Jeremy Melder  34:13

you know, what I'm finding my listening to this is that a lot of it is observation, isn't it? And, and we've lost, we seem to have lost that sense of observation. We live by a calendar that says you do this, this and this, right, in a time frame. And, you know, you lose that sense of your own connection with the natural world, which is what I think Paul, what you're saying is it's really important that we get back to those roots


Paul Burragun  34:45

it is yeah. Like you say we live by calendars that the ones in our watch, yeah, you know, time you know that that made up thing rushing from here to there and having to be here and having to do this and yeah, alive. So, brief with a blink of an eye in the scheme of things. But if we tap into this old knowledge, yeah, and you get to know the language and realize what the songs and the stories are telling us about country, yeah, we can tap into hundreds of thousands of years of information, just through that through listening and looking or like you say watching, but you want you know, those are languages and the star maps and the songlines and the stories, they that's a full Encyclopedia of information.



Jeremy Melder  35:37

I'm feeling overwhelmed, I'm sorry, but you know, it's like, you know, to know the stars, you know, which through the stories, that's a lot, that you're right, and encyclopedias, a lot of learning. So, university degree plus,


Paul Burragun  35:49

Its more than that, because you take into account within your language group, you might have four dialects, you have to know those, and it's all committed to memory, nothing was stored on, you know, (Hard Disks) you know, there was, you know, obviously, paintings and art and they conveyed, and those types of things were meant to not stay there forever but be added to. So, you'll see handprints where ten, twenty, thirty thousand years, then one that's five or ten little persons put this over the top, so it shows that travel through time. So, we have we have access. But um Yeah, but the songs and the stories, there's so many have been lost. And I often wonder where it's going to end up, but I think are well, we're just so brief anyway. But you know, the old people and I and I think even with their fire regimes and land management practices, they would have done some damage to the environment as well. There's no two ways about it. They would have done some damage and probably caused some species or plants or animals to become extinct, possibly. But Aboriginal people were living here when the megafauna were here. Yeah. You know, so when Dipperadontis, the giant wombat they were here when he was here,


Jeremy Melder  37:16

right. Tell me about Dipperadontis the Wombat


Paul Burragun  37:20

So, I think he was approximately two up to two meters tall. Wow. So, the size of  a small rhinoceros or hippopotamus and he was an herbivore. So, he is the descendant of the common day wombat, which is about as big as a medium sized dog. And they're a marsupial, their pouch faces to the rear. Yeah. So, when they dig their burrow, they don't throw dirt in the faces of their little ones. But yeah, now people have been here through the ice age, I think two ice ages. They're thinking now


Jeremy Melder  37:59

incredible. Yeah.


Paul Burragun  38:00

So, they lived through them. And they adapted.


Jeremy Melder  38:05

So, what you're really saying, and I acknowledge is that we've got a lot to learn.


Paul Burragun  38:11

We all do. Yeah.


Jeremy Melder  38:13

And there's some real benefits in learning some of these older traditions and you were saying that you know some of the tools I was fortunate enough as Paul's got a quite an array of tools and you know shark teeth and things like that that have go back. I don't know how long it was quite a shark tooth was how old?


Paul Burragun  38:34

so, I've got some couple of Megalodon shark teeth that are between two and 14 million years old fossilized ones not from Australia, but I've swapped them for boomerangs and different things with archaeologists and paleontologists around the world and bought them online, but I get them to take and show the kids just to get them to think about the age of things and how old the earth is you know 4.5 billion years old, and we've only been here for a million Yeah, human doings.


Jeremy Melder  39:06

Now I'd like the analogy you gave about the T shirt and where's that from


Paul Burragun  39:11

our breaking it down with a man so I stayed on trying to work back to the environment to get them to realize how we rely on the environment and for everything we have, and need comes from the natural environment, so I say to them, where does your shirt come from? And they you know, and your shoes and your glasses and your school port and your books are coming from the shop uncle boomerang. But where does the shop get it from? From the factory. Okay, but with the factory, get it from and then we work our way back and we work out every single thing that we have comes from the natural environment, at one stage in one form or another and then I say to them. So, if that's the case, can we survive without the natural environment? And they think about it, they say, No. And then I say to him, but can the natural environment survive without us? It can't, and they say, and they, at first, they get it wrong. They say, now it can't say how long, the natural environment doesn't need us, it’s been here for longer than we have. And then we work it out. And we go back. That's how I get back to sustainability and living with and working with the environment instead of destroying and wrecking it, that I'm young. Totally agree. And


Jeremy Melder  40:46

that's why I brought that up, because I thought one of the things that we have lost sight of is the environment, you know, the environment that we live in there has been here for a long, long time longer than we have. And we are not respecting that in a way that we ought to, and totally me focused and focused on, you know, how can I better my life? How can I and we've even some time, sometimes we've even lost looking after our uncles and Auntie's as you put it, then, you know, we don't we just totally focused on us. And I love that story. Because it's bringing it back to where did it all start from? Where do we start this from? You know, why did we get a T shirt? How did we get there? Yeah,


Paul Burragun  41:37

we can be very self-absorbed humans and place so much importance on ourselves, rather than the environment. You know, I wouldn't be worried if I was one of the ones if there was a big, you know, pandemic and it wiped out two thirds of the population. Great. I don't care from one of them. And my family and my grandkids. Please give the Earth Mother time to recover. Yeah. Yeah. You know, it might be some other species that come along after us different one, maybe smarter one.


Jeremy Melder  42:13

Let's hope so. Yeah, Paul, look, I really appreciate your time today, you've gone through some really important information. And hopefully I can share some of the. Are the seasons available online for someone to look through?


Paul Burragun  42:28

 no, I've got them written down, I've done up a bit of a calendar, and I'm still adding to it. And I've got a lot more to add to it and I’m going to make it a couple of pages. But we're also doing a calendar with recipes. So bush tucker, we've, there's been a few put out by Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander health in my area. They stopped doing them now. But I do have those on PDF if people wanted them. So, they're old calendars but with recipes, and where you can buy the fresh, frozen and dried or you can buy actually buy the plants and plant them at home yourself and start growing them .


Jeremy Melder  43:06

Is that information available on your website? Or can they contact with you,


Paul Burragun  43:11

if somebody emails me through the website, I can email them the PDF with the recipes and the different places to buy the plants in our area. And I always say to people search out your local closest nurseries first ask them what they have. Keep the money local and the family supported local and then spread out from there, you know, but there's a lot of nurseries now supplying local endemic traditional Aboriginal Bush food and medicine plants. Yeah.


Jeremy Melder  43:42

So, your website is And people can just get on there. And we'll put that put that in the show notes so that people can look you up. And if anyone is interested in booking Paul, I know he's booked out for the year or more. And to go to their school or preschool or high school or to go to university. He'd be happy to book you in but please be mindful might be a year before you get to see him. But please, thank you so much, Paul. Uncle Paul. And really thank you for your time. Cheers.


Paul Burragun  44:28

Thanks, Jeremy. I just like to say in my grandfather's language. Thank you. Kunbundem bullei = thank you.


Jeremy Melder  44:47

Love you. Love you too. Thank you. Thank you for listening to this episode of Beaming Green. Now if you got something out of this episode, we'd love to hear what your biggest takeaway was. There are a number of ways you can do this; you can leave a review on Apple podcast. Or if you have a Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn social media page, you can leave a review there that don't forget to tag us so we can thank you personally. Lastly, go to and subscribe to our newsletter and receive a free how to be green guide. At Beaming Green, we are committed to providing you with a thought provoking and insightful program that inspires you to live your life in accordance with your true nature and purpose. We do this by sharing stories from people that are walking their talk and are committed to living their lives sustainably with their mind, body and soul. So, you can share this with your friends and family and leave the planet in a better place. The music for this podcast was created by Dave Weir.