009 Caring for the disregarded and unloved

We would like to acknowledge that this walk takes place on and with Noongar Country, in what is also now known as Perth, Western Australia, and with Derbarl Yerrigan, in what is also now known as the Swan River.

 “Look, Derbarl Yerrigan is out!” 
Yes, Derbarl Yerrigan is “out”; low tide, calm waters, and clear skies.
Muddy, sticky, and careful walking are happening along the shoreline.

Slowly, quietly, and with intention, Melanie walks across the beach. 
Suddenly she stops and does not move. She is looking out across the sand. What is she looking at? 

Following her line of sight, something glimmers on the beach, but it is unclear what it is. 
Then, quickly another faint shimmer. 
Not moving, Melanie points……at something…..but what? 
Seagrass? Shells? Rubbish?
She lifts one foot up and slowly stretches it across the sand. 
As soon as she places her toe onto land, she pulls it up. 
What is it? What is going on?
Then, they become noticeable…….…..hundreds of Moon Jellies (Aurelia aurita), of all different sizes, are covering the beach. 

We’ve mentioned Moon Jellyfish before in Blog 002 and have encountered them on previous walks, but not like this. It’s a Moon Jelly outbreak!

As I walk towards Melanie she looks up and then points towards the sand, saying, “Jellyfish!” Then, pointing in another direction, “There’s another one!”…….”Oh my god, look at that jelly!”

She asks, while pointing again, “What is that one?” “Right there!” She doesn’t move……

“Cute jellies”

With concentration and effort, she slowly and carefully continues walking around Moon Jellies.

Immersed in my own thoughts, and trying hard to avoid stepping on Moon Jellies, I hear Melanie’s voice again, coming from behind, “Hey, somebody help me.”

Turning around, I see that she is frozen, not moving. I encourage her to “be careful”, and to “step around” Moon Jellies, but she remains still, not budging. Taking her hand, we both slowly continue walking down the beach. I ask why she did not want to move, and am told “Stingers. Don’t get stung.” 

Out of the corner of my eye, I notice small white, greyish, and black lumps scattered along the shoreline. With interest, I lead Melanie towards these, but she is not budging. 

Finally it becomes clear that the small lumps are dead Blowies (Torquigener pleurogramma, common blowfish). Unlike our previous walk, when we noticed about five or maybe six dead Blowies, this week there are more. Every few steps we encounter another dead Blowie. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, eighteen……

While sitting with one of the dead Blowies, I remind the girls that I read it was best to place the stranded Blowies back into Derbarl Yerrigan. This way, their poisonous carcasses  do not tempt curious dogs.

Then, with careful intention, the girls begin to thoughtfully picking up dead Blowies, and walk them out to Derbarl Yerrigan. 

In silence and in awe, we watch the girls caring for the disregarded.

008 Un/remarkable natureculture encounters

We would like to acknowledge that this walk takes place on and with Noongar Country, in what is also now known as Perth, Western Australia, and with Derbarl Yerrigan, in what is also now known as the Swan River.

Walking towards the sandy and shelly beach, the beach that we always walk to, the beach where Derbarl Yerrigan invites children to touch, to splash, to taste, the beach where we are learning to walk-with Derbarl Yerrigan, we were surprised. There they were, right in front of us… one, two Maali (Black Swan)!

They were so close to the shoreline. 

It was amazing!
It was unbelievable!
It was remarkable!

Almost immediately, children were in Derbarl Yerrigan. It never seems to take long. Splashing, jumping, skipping, scooping, playing. 

And then, Djenark arrives. 

She comes flying by and lands on the beach. Watching and waiting. And then, there is another Djenark, and another, and another, and another. Never before have there been this many Djenark! 

It was amazing! 
It was unbelievable!
It was remarkable!

Within seconds, they were gone. 
Where did Djenark go? 
And then three came back. 
Kwarh! Kwarh! Kwarh! Kwarh!   

For months we have been walking to Derbarl Yerrigan and having close encounters with Maali and Djenark, and today, there they were. It was definitely going to be an amazing, unbelievable, and remarkable day. Or was it? 

Although there was so much going on, our notebooks were relatively empty. No jottings, no scribbles, today was un/remarkable in so many ways.

Maybe there is something about today’s walk that is showing us how routine and our familiarity of this particular beach is indicative of children’s inextricable relations with water. 

What if our regular visiting of this spot has made it possible for Maali and Djenark to come ‘closer’ to us than usual on this walk? We didn’t flit around from spot to spot. Instead, we engaged in familiar activities at this particular place. 

Maali, Djenark, and children were underwhelmed about things we were very excited about on this walk. We thought the closeness between Maali and Djenark and us was amazing, unbelievable, and remarkable. Maybe these un/remarkable encounters are showing us naturecultures, as opposed to nature hyphen culture. Maybe there is much for us to learn about these un/remarkable natureculture encounters.

Maali seemed to be comfortable with us there and the children seemed to be comfortable with Maali there too. There wasn’t anything spectacular about this encounter today. Maybe this is just how it is? Maybe sharing water/beach/air/wind/rain with one another is naturecultures. 

Why was Maali’s proximity “amazing”, “unbelievable”, or  “remarkable”? Maybe today’s encounter shows us that living well with each other, involves being with each other while carrying out regular everyday routines.

007 Djenark movements multiple!

4 October 2019

We would like to acknowledge that our walks takes place on and with Noongar Country, in what is also now known as Perth, Western Australia, and with Derbarl Yerrigan, in what is also now known as the Swan River.

Something was certainly in the air on this windy and wet morning. Djenark multiple!

Djenark visited us several times. We invite you to watch this movie and pay attention to Djenark movements multiple. Then, we invite you to watch the video and move with Djenark.

  • How is Djenark moving her feet? 
    • Can you move your feet like Djenark?
  • How is Djenark moving her head and neck?
    • Can you move your head and neck like Djenark?
  • How is Djenark moving her wings? 
    • What would it feel like to have wings like Djenark?
    • Imagine you have wings, can you move them like Djenark?

What might paying attention to Djenark’s movements multiple mean for our relations with the more-than-human? How might embodied actions develop our relationship with Djenark?

006 Multiple modes of knowing a permanently polluted Derbarl Yerrigan

16 September 2019

We would like to acknowledge that our walks take place on and with Noongar Country, in what is also now known as Perth, Western Australia, and with Derbarl Yerrigan, in what is also now known as the Swan River.

While walking-with Derbarl Yerrigan we continue to wonder ‘what does it mean to walk-with a permanently polluted Derbarl Yerrigan?’. This walking post sets into motion how we are beginning to notice the mutliples that incite us to respond. Touching, visibility, and smellability are some of the ways we are beginning to pay attention to Derbarl Yerrigan.  

We invite you to wonder and notice the multiple modes of knowing that ‘we’ (children, adults, and Djenark) use to walk and think-with Derbarl Yerrigan. 


The girls are shin-deep in Derbarl Yerrigan, with big smiles on their faces. Carefully, they bend down towards the water, placing their fingertips lightly on the water’s surface, and then quickly stand-up, while giggling. Each time they bend down, they go lower, and lower. They are mixing with Derbarl Yerrigan and Derbarl Yerrigan is mixing with them. Touching of all sorts is happening. When they pop-up, their giggles and laughter becoming louder.  Soon the girls are squatting in the water, and Derbarl Yerrigan is now up to their waists. 

More splashing, more laughing.

But then, one of the girls stops, puts her hands over her mouth and nose. She scrunches her face while mumbling behind her hands, “Ooh, it stinks.” But no one seems to pay attention, and splashing, laughing, and playing continues.  

Together we wonder, “How is Derbarl Yerrigan touching these girls?”


As we approach Derbarl Yerrigan, one of the adults exclaims, while pointing down towards the shoreline, “Oh my, look at all the rubbish! I need to get the bag. Ok, let’s pick up all the rubbish.”  

It’s interesting how adults and children engage with rubbish, the dirty, the smelly, the not-nice. We are good citizens, picking-up bits of paper, plastic, glass, clothing and other small objects that seem out of place. But, are they out of place for Djenark? Does Djenark care? 

We work hard at making this place, this shoreline, this walking path neat and tidy. The practice of  ‘cleaning up’ is just one hallmark of 20th century pollution control and is based on the politics of purity. These purity practices can be connected to race and social class, which is a form of colonial logics. Unfortunately, picking up rubbish is a practice that fails to address the wider social and political power structures that produce/induce toxicity to begin with. We are not advocating to stop picking up rubbish, but we do think it is important to address this issue. Maybe we can begin to trouble the notion of ‘out of place’. We don’t think it is about not picking up the plastic bag, used piece of newsprint, or food wrapper. Rather it is wondering together and out loud, why it is out of place. 


“Ooh, that stinks. Yucky.”

‘Attuned sensing’ (Calvillo, 2018) is something we can practice when walking-with a permanently polluted Derbarl Yerrigan. Attuned sensing requires us to ‘monitor our bodily interactions’ with Derbarl Yerrigan, ‘focus on the engagements with and responses to’ the permanently polluted river.  

The blowfish carcass is one of many layers of Derbarl Yerrigan. How else might we recognise the smellability of Derbarl Yerrigan?

Perhaps today’s jar of collected water (touching), shells and rubbish (visibility), and the scent of salt, algae, and microscopic bits (smellability) can help us to think with others at the centre about living in a permanently polluted world.





005 What does it mean to walk-with a permanently polluted world?

13 September 2019

We would like to acknowledge that this walk takes place on and with Noongar Country, in what is also now known as Perth, Western Australia, and with Derbarl Yerrigan, in what is also now known as the Swan River.

Walking-with Derbarl Yerrigan entails walking-with a permanently polluted world. This blog post is not taking a moral stand about achieving a perfectly clean and pristine river system, but rather grapples-with how we might we might incite new forms of ‘’response-ability” in a permanently polluted world (Liboiron, Tironi, Calvillo, 2018). 

Sunshine, clear blue skies, warm and still air describes the day for this walk. No rough waves today. Sitting on the concrete ledge, with feet dangling, we notice the calmness of Derbarl Yerrigan. Gentle and slow water movements meant we could see the bottom of the river.


“Look, fish.” 

“A lot of fish today”

“There are tadpoles” 

“More fish” (pointing at the school of small fish swimming. Darting one way, and then another).

Then one of the girls asks, while pointing out towards Derbarl Yerrigan, “What’s that white line?”

“Maybe that’s bird poo” she says.

Walking towards the sandy beach, still on the concrete ledge, we can clearly see the lines of white-brown foamy stuff. We’ve seen this foamy stuff before. It is what was carrying/catching/moving all those feathers a few weeks ago. Looking a second, third, and fourth time we notice that this foamy stuff is gathering at the concrete ledge. Foamy white stuff grows. 

One fish, two fish, three fish, all dead fish. That’s how many we see bloated, swept up, but still part of Derbarl Yerrigan, on the foreshore. Finally, a child notices. We haven’t seen dead blowfish (often called ‘Blowies’) here before. This is new. These are common blowfish, also known as banded toadfish and weeping toado, and most people find this fish to be a nuisance because they eat bait. Blowie is native to WA and keeps waterways clean by eating up waste scraps, bait and berley. Blowie and Djenark are similar; most humans don’t like them, but they end up cleaning up after humans anyways! 

Blowies belongs to the family Tetraodontidae, and they typically have torpedo-shaped bodies, soft skin instead of scales, and fused teeth that form a beak. These fish also have the toxin, tetrodototoxin present in their skin, flesh, and internal organs. These toxins can kill animals, including humans, that eat them. Blowfish get their name because they are able to inflate their abdomens with water. This is a defence mechanism that makes the fish look bigger to predators. Blowfish also inflate their abdomens with air on removal from the water, and usually have trouble deflating. Therefore, it is best to get them back into the water as soon as possible. 

It’s interesting to consider these dead Blowies as waste. What made the Blowies die? Old age, a predator, an injury, or a poison? Algal blooms naturally occur in Derbarl Yerrigan and will kill fish, but excessive nutrients and certain environmental conditions can cause larger growth. What if the poison can be traced back to a waste made by humans? Pesticides, that we use on plants and runs off into Derbarl Yerrigan is an example of an excessive nutrient. 

Critical Discard Studies helps us raise important questions about and notice where waste goes, how it acts, what bodies it enters, and how long it takes for certain materials to ‘go away’. What might we find out by following fertilizer? What might we find out by following the carcass of Blowie? 

The next time we encounter these dead Blowies, we should return them to the water, rather than leaving them for dogs to eat. But, where do they ‘go’? What does it mean to put Blowie back into Derbarl Yerrigan? We wonder if any species eats Blowie?  What happens to the toxins and toxics when the carcasses of these Blowies decompose? Will they simply ‘disappear’? We learn that toxins are a natural part of this fish, unlike human-made pesticides that are toxic (Liboiron, Tironi, Calvillo, 2018). But does the difference really matter? 

Leaving Derbarl Yerrigan we noticed a person, dressed in safety gear, spraying a pesticide on the grass. 

New forms of response-ability

It would be too easy and too simple simple to try and tell the story of pesticide spray + rain + runoff = dead Blowie. That leads to a moralistic story that all too quickly turns into individual quick fixes that are grounded in attempts to “…delimit the world into one that is separable, disentangled, and homogeneous” (Shotwell, 2016; p.15). 

Instead we are interested in how Derbarl Yerrigan activates new forms of response-ability. Children and educators notice the white foamy stuff, sometimes naming the water ‘dirty’. They notice how it can be ‘full of rubbish’ and are repulsed by the smell of rotting fish mixed with algae, salt, sand, and heat. These ‘dirty’ moments can be challenged. We can learn from Djenark, who is not repelled by the colour of the water,  the brown-ish foam, or the plastic bag floating in the water. Paying attention to the different smells of Derbarl Yerrigan, that exist outside of ‘yuck’ or ‘gross’ is a start. Instead of generalizing and noticing all the ‘rubbish’ or reacting to smells by shouting, “Ewww, that fish stinks!” why not say, “I see a plastic baggy. Let’s pick it up and take it with us” or, “Oh, that’s a salty hot smell.” These are examples of how we might craft ethical responses to the impossibly complex worlds we are sharing with Derbarl Yerrigan, Djenark, and Blowie. 


Liboiron, M., & Tironi, M., & Calvillo, N. (2018). Toxic politics: Acting in a permanently polluted world. Social Studies of Science 48 (3) 331-349. 

Shotwell, A. (2016). Against purity: Living ethically in compromised times. Minneapolis, MN: Minnesota University Press. 

004 Becoming Close(r)

2 September 2019

We would like to acknowledge that this walk takes place on and with Noongar Country, in what is also now known as Perth, Western Australia, and with Derbarl Yerrigan, in what is also now known as the Swan River.

Our walks seem to be bringing us close(r) to and with Derbarl Yerrigan and those who we meet there. Weather invited us close(r) to Derbarl Yerrigan, Djenark (Silver Gull), and Rainbow Lorikeet. Weather moved from partly cloudy and a slight breeze, to light rain and cool gusty winds and back again! The tide was high, but we wondered if it was moving out as the beach was visible and accessible.

Water’s ripples were gently moving across the flat surface and sun was peeking out from behind clouds with only the slightest breeze to remind us that is was a cool day (typical of Djilba season). Weather helped us hear Rainbow Lorikeet’s calls. The physical distance between us and palm fronds made it hard for some children to see Rainbow Lorikeet, but their screeches kept us close. We stood below palm tree talking with and about Rainbow Lorikeet; we wondered if one of them was stuck as he hung upside down from the tree, about their nest (could we see one?) and how many Rainbow Lorikeet’s were up in the tree (it sounded like many!).

Soon, Silver Gull swooped in to see us as we were tossing fallen bark from palm tree, river shells, and sand into the river. She came close to us, perhaps because “she thinks it’s food”, or is it maybe that we are more familiar to her now? One of the educators wondered if this is the same Silver Gull who we meet each time we walk with Derbarl Yerrigan and how we could tell? 

Our close encounter with Silver Gull continued as she was offered broken river shells to ‘eat’ by one of the girls. I wondered aloud what was important for Silver Gull in order for her to come nearer, to eat out of our palms. “Does she need us to be still, low to the ground, and quiet?” “Or should we call her over, offering her food?”  How are we becoming close(r), together? Today, we became close(r) by initiating, asking, waiting, hesitating, reading bodies, and respecting. These are new practices and doings that challenge the desire to know immediately.

As we continued walking  the weather changed, with wind picking up and rain starting to fall. I wonder if being somewhat wet with rain already was an invitation for one of the girls to go deeper into Derbarl Yerrigan than they had ever been before. Or is there a trusting relationship developing between the river and ourselves that is easing the worry of children going in “too far”? Derbarl Yerrigan safely led her out to waist depth, where she often paused, took in a sudden surprised breath and let out giggles as she rushed back into shore, before returning, only to repeat this over and over and over.

How might the water stories and memories from today be about becoming close(r) with Derbarl Yerrigan and why do we need to be ‘close(r)’ and foster ‘close(r)’ relations with others in order to live well together?

003 Cultivating Good Relations with Derbarl Yerrigan

26 August 2019

We would like to acknowledge that this walk takes place on and with Noongar Country, in what is also now known as Perth, Western Australia, and with Derbarl Yerrigan, in what is also now known as the Swan River. 

Noticing seems to come easy when Derbarl Yerrigan is out of reach, or in the distance. It might be that the familiarity of this place and ritual of being asked to notice makes it seem ‘easy’? On our walks, we tend to notice with our eyes and sometimes with imagination. Today, water gently slurped up towards our feet which hung over the wall and drew our attention downwards to notice crab shells, feathers, jellyfish, and rubbish. We speculated aboutt whose feathers might be bobbing up and down in the water (Silver Gull has white and grey feathers) and how the rubbish arrived (“bad guys” and the wind).  What are all of the other ways that we might pay attention to Derbarl Yerrigan? What if we were to close our eyes? What might we sense? The “Aaark” of Crow? , The gentle Easterly breeze? The salty-sea scent? How might sensing Derbarl Yerrigan help us think-with and be with river? Using our senses helps us to pay attention to how Derbarl Yerrigan is always with us and a part of us, rather than off in the distance for us to ‘know’. What about the far away and distant way of knowing is often unseeable? Speculation and imagination are good partners of noticing. 

Where the wall ends and the path veers away from the water, Derbarl Yerrigan meets the narrow shore and nature reserve. Soon we were walking-with sand, shells, and wading through water. Seagrass started to tangle around gumboots, making it wobbly to walk and helping us to notice her. One of the girls bent over repeatedly grabbing Seagrass and pulling her up out of the river floor, while saying, “I’m gonna take this home”. I asked, “What do you think Seagrass and Derbarl Yerrigan would want?”.  Unsure, she shrugged her shoulders. 

A traditional Noongar practice of throwing sand when at the river was shared as we thought about what Derbarl Yerrigan might want from us as we walk. We learned that gathering sand and rubbing it between our hands and throwing it into Derbarl Yerrigan is a way for ancestors to smell us, and to let Waugul know that we are visiting. Throwing sand into the river is a familiar habit when we walk with Derbarl Yerrigan. How might imagining with Dreaming stories and traditional practices cultivate good relations with Derbarl Yerrigan?

There is one last story about speculation and imagination from today’s walk and it involves Walking Fish. Derbarl Yerrigan had washed up Walking Fish onto the sand where his exposed bones, missing eyes, feathery tail, and slouchy skin drew everyone’s attention. “A fish!”, “It’s a dead fish!”, “Don’t touch it!”.

Walking Fish was looked at closely before quickly being nudged by a stick. No response from him saw the children decide that, “we have to get it water!” The stick was called upon again to help Walking Fish make this move, but he was very floppy and this proved to be quite a challenge as he flopped and dropped off the stick and into the sand. Eventually, the urgency of needing to get Walking Fish to water, saw one of the children pick him up in his hand and carry him into the river. “Throw it!”. We all watched in anticipation.

“He’s not swimming!” told us quickly that Walking Fish was “dead”, yet he was imagined to be alive when he was named Walking Fish and joined us on our walk- hooked on the end of a stick. One child asked if he could put him, “far away to the water” and Walking Fish obliged. He stayed firmly on the end of the stick awaiting the far away water and “home”, though our walk didn’t seem to get to this place. Speculation helped Walking Fish’s walking partner make a decision about what to do with him as we left Derbarl Yerrigan.

“What do you think the fish might like?” 

“Take him not home, take him not (centre)”. “Put it in the water”. 

And so Walking Fish was placed into the river. 

Today’s walking memories and water stories are held in this jar. How might we use the collection of jars as a provocation to imagine and speculate about Derbarl Yerrigan?

002 Being Invited by Derbarl Yerrigan: Why imagination is vital

19 August 2019

We would like to acknowledge that this walk takes place on and with Noongar Country, in what is also now known as Perth, Western Australia, and with Derbarl Yerrigan, in what is also now known as the Swan River. 

It was a crisp morning, and the sky was blue. Standing in the sunshine felt nice, almost needed with the cold air of the morning. Derbarl Yerrigan greeted us quietly today. No gusts of wind, no high tide, no waves, and no bubbles. Instead, she was understated. Her surface was smooth, with the slightest of rhythmic ripples. 

When we arrived at the river, we sat on the wall, with feet dangling, watching the smooth surface. We waited for an invitation. The invitation this week was hard to hear and difficult to notice, but we waited. Waiting is something we need to practice. Waiting makes room for invitations.  It took a while, but it was a feather that first caught our attention. A small white feather was bobbing on the water’s surface. While sitting on the wall we wondered together about these feathers. Where were all of these feathers coming from and why were they here? 

We walked along the river, noticing feathers and picking them up, out of the water. There were different sizes and kinds of feathers. We wondered who they belonged to and if they were from Silver Gull? This was an invitation from Derbarl Yerrigan and feathers. This invitation had us looking around and call for Silver Gull. Where was she today? Would she be visiting us?

The small group of children did various things on this walk. Some walked along the edge of Derbarl Yerrigan, a few sat on the ledge looking through binoculars watching Maali, Pacific Black Duck, and Australian Shelduck, one gathered shells, a few looked and made sounds into the sewer drains, and some walked through the clear and sometimes mucky water, splashing. Soon gumboots were taken off. We wonder, how was Derbarl Yerrigan inviting this group of children? Which children were open to her invitations? 

Derbarl Yerrigan invited a few of the girls to examine Moon Jelly jellyfish. With the end of a feather, one child poked jellyfish, turned jellyfish, and carried jellyfish. I asked if they thought jellyfish was dead or alive? I wasn’t trying to find out their knowledge about the jellyfish, but was curious to know if they would have been handling jellyfish like this if he was alive. I asked,

“How do you know if jellyfish are alive, dead, or hurt?”

I wondered: 

How do children know? Why might this matter? Should it matter? 

I have so many questions. What might happen if we were to imagine otherwise? I asked two of the children if they thought jellyfish had a good life, out in the river? They shrugged their shoulders. I think we need to imagine good relations. I think this is why I tried asking different kinds of questions about jellyfish. 

But the question that I couldn’t quite shake was, why not care for jellyfish or try to put jellyfish back out to Derbarl Yerrigan? 

Child-Jellyfish Relations 

Children were moving, holding, covering, and bathing jellyfish. They were imagining and finding a home for jellyfish, a rock decorated in algae with nooks for jelly to fit in, and digging a bath for jelly to be cleaned after being sprinkled with or dropped in the sand. Though, her actual home is Derbarl Yerrigan. How might children and jellyfish be in good relation? How does this kind of play make room for good relations?

Educators were able to tell me that they find two kinds of jellyfish; clear ones and brown ones. But what else would be good to know about jellyfish? What is jellyfish in Noongar language? Are there any Noongar stories about jellyfish? How might new or different kinds of knowledges and histories help us to situate Derbarl Yerrigan invitations? What kinds of knowledges are needed to help us be in good relations with each other?

Water Stories/Memories

Our water story and memories from today’s walk were again collected and are stored in a jar. How might keeping/displaying these jars at the centre develop our relations with Derbarl Yerrigan? What/whose stories are shared and what/whose memories are recalled when the jars are used as a provocation?

001 Being Invited by Derbarl Yerrigan and Wind

12 August 2019

We would like to acknowledge that this walk takes place on and with Noongar Country, in what is also now known as Perth, Western Australia, and with Derbarl Yerrigan, in what is also now known as the Swan River. 

At first, it seemed as though children just wanted to be in the water. As soon as we could see Derbarl Yerrigan someone exclaimed, “I want to go in the water!”.

But look what happens when we take another approach. When we shift our focus. Instead of assuming that children are the protagonists and are the centre of our walks, what happens when we position water and wind as the main players? How might this make room for different kinds of noticings? How might water and wind bring together relations with children, animals, and the world? What kinds of relations emerge?  

Emerging from the concrete path, someone said that Derbarl Yerrigan was “rough today”. We noticed something was different about the river. It took a few seconds to realise that the water was moving in a different direction from the last time that we saw it. This time Derbarl Yerrigan was flowing and moving to the right, in a South West direction. It was windy and this must have had something to do with the direction of the river. 

Listening to Water-Wind-Child Relations

With wind, Derbarl Yerrigan was putting on a show. A spectacular show that invited us to be with water. Soon, gum boots and socks came off and children were splashing, jumping, and being with water. We wonder, is this what being in good relation looks and sounds like? 

With wind, Derbarl Yerrigan was inviting us to taste water, smell water, touch water, and hear water.  

Listen to water and wind inviting children into relation. Can you hear how they invite and how new relations are being made?


With wind, Derbarl Yerrigan travels shells, sand, trash, leaves, sticks, jellyfish, feathers, and birds. 

With wind, Derbarl Yerrigan forms waves that lap at the drain and seawall and cause bubbles to dance on the surface.

Silver Gull and Pacific Black Duck are watching us when we first arrive and move closer as we settle in and sit at the edge of the water. Do they want our company? Several times Silver Gull makes a loud noise if another bird gets too close to us. It is as if we are her friends. 

“Look a feather!” “It’s a black one!”

“Look, another feather!”

“And there, another one.”

In the distance, we can see two Maali (that’s the Whadjuk Noongar name for what we often call black swans). 

With wind and water, the two Maali come closer. 

Soon, two Maali are looking at us. 

They have done this before. We remember how they were curious and swam towards us, getting closer. Do you remember how we watched them bobbing up and down, up and down, up and down? We found out that they were bobbing down to pull up and eat the seagrass. Do you remember how we watched their bottoms bobbing up and down, up and down? 

Before we know it, they head back out, past the boats, towards the middle of the river.  

Water Stories/Water Memories

Inspired by the Museum of Water commissioned by the Perth Festival, 2018, UK artist Amy Sharroks collected water memories and stories across WA. Each week we will bring a clear glass bottle to save a water story/water memory from our walk. The bottle holds stories/memories of movement and company from today. 

Why not ask one of the children about the water, shells, sand, and feather. What stories might they tell? 

We also wonder what it might mean to remove the water and these stories/memories from Derbarl Yerrigan? Are these our stories to tell? 

Here are some resources that might be useful for walking-with Derbarl Yerrigan:

Dreamtime story of the Black Swan http://whadjukwalkingtrails.org.au/media/black-swan/

Karda-Bidi Walking Trail http://whadjukwalkingtrails.org.au/trails/karda-bidi/pdf/Karda-Bidi-Brochure.pdf

Mindy Blaise and Vanessa Wintoneak

Walking-with Derbarl Yerrigan

9 August 2019

We will begin a 6-week experimental and multisensory inquiry related to walking-with Derbarl Yerrigan. Derbarl Yerrigan is located on Noongar land, which is now known as Perth.

Our first walk will be open-ended to Derbarl Yerrigan.

Our provocation is “walking-with Derbarl Yerrigan”.

We are reading Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass to help us pay attention to the world.