Becoming Beowa

We Beowa the killer whales and ancestors of the Katungal (saltwater people), are hunting Jaandas – baleen whales like humpbacks. The Jaandas travel in great numbers along the coast with their calves. This season we are helping the men who ride over the waves in wooden boats hunt the Jaanda. Some of them are my Katungal family and some of them, like the man Davidson, are new to this country, but they still follow the ‘Law of the Tongue’. This means us Beowa take the tongue and lips of the whales, and the men take the rest.

These men call me Charlie Adgery, which was my name when I was a strong, proud Katungal man. Now it is my Beowa name.

My Katungal kin were born into a colliding world, however in the hunt for Jaanda, we found a temporary bond with white people, even if they did not hunt for the same reasons we did.

Then the white men wanted more country and they took us to live on places called ‘missions’. More than once they tried to make me leave my country. Some of my people went with the white men to Wallaga Lake Aboriginal Mission. I would not go. They built me a hut and moved me to Cocora, close to here, but after a few more seasons they took me also to Wallaga Lake. It is there, where, I would take my last human breath before becoming Beowa.

Humpback whale in Turemulerrer (Twofold Bay)