Friday, April 5, 2013

Singing Country in the Song Cycle

One of the major responsibilities of the Kimberley Law Bosses is to ensure that Traditional Culture – The Law – is passed down to successive generations.

The Elders are Custodians of a living history, Traditional knowledge of the origin and function of things, and stories and skills that derive from centuries of experience in the area.  “This body of cultural knowledge is known as “Bugarigaara,” the Dreaming. It is perpetuated within the Song Cycle” which recounts the creative journeys of the ancestral beings who made the land and its people.

The Song Cycle is an oral heritage map. Its songs contain codes of behaviour fundamental to sustaining the balance and well-being of the land and its people. “The people talk about the Song Men being given the songs by the Country itself.

The Song Cycle is made up of Law Grounds and seasonal camping places, along a connected route between water places.  These grounds and sites promote abundance – for humans, turtles, birds, fish and animals.
The layout of the land is encoded in the songs. A person who knows the songs can travel through the country and stay in a sustaining relationship with it. This preserved memory of the lay of the land, and its history, has been sung for centuries at ceremony time, even by lawmen in distant places who have never made the physical journey along the song line.

The Song Cycle on the coast of the Dampier Peninsula has its birthplace north of One Arm Point, from whence it travels to the south of La Grange, the exit place where that creative process finished. Its sites connect, in a continuous linear system ranging between 50 and 100kms in width, from west in the ocean to east on the land. This greater Song Cycle looks after and protects other (east-heading) creation Songlines that move from the west through Uluru and across to the east coast – Sunrise country.

Minyirr jukun (Dampier Peninsula) is one of the beginning birth places for the journey of “Naji’ beings who, it is believed, came from the ocean of space and travelled across the country, gradually summoning up landforms, people, animals – the whole spectrum of creation and the system to preserve it, – through first singing out the sound vibration of names, around which their forms gathered. (Aboriginal people do not believe their forebears migrated from elsewhere, but came from this land itself; the people, the land and all its forms simultaneously stemming from the same life-giving force and sharing the same essential energy vibration.)

Within this Country, one of the creator beings is spoken of as “Marella,” whose ancient footprints and other feather traces remain in the reef that stretches between Minyirr (Broome) and Dugul (Flat Rock, north of Walmadan.)  The emu form of Marella persists in the shape of the black abyss of the Milky Way, in the night sky. Sites where three-toed prints occur correlate with the course of Marella’s journey, as narrated in the Song Cycle.  The archaeologists, however, speak of a dinosaur, an upright walking lizard.
Law-Grounds are generally located close to significant vegetation, the “mamara” (‘spirit trees’) that have particular ceremonial functions.

“Murrurru” are rock formations that have strong spiritual value. They are mainly dangerous places that need to be respected and avoided – not public places, due to their power.

The following extract derives from a greater piece written by Jeanné Browne, in collaboration with Frans Hooglandt and Goolarabooloo Law Boss, Joseph Roe, and is included in the publication, ‘Kimberley at the Crossroads’, compiled by Murray Wilcox QC, for Save the Kimberley, 2010.

Richard Hunter

The seasonal camping places are generally governed by water presence, food sources and insect presence throughout the year.

A “Jila” offers permanent, “living” water:  Each “buru,” or territory, has its “Yunguru,” the spirit that resides in the water places, who is “familiar with the smell” of his people. Traditional people from one place tend to be reluctant to move into another people’s area, unless accompanied by its countrymen, who can introduce them and facilitate their safe passing.

Singing the Country is part of an ongoing relationship. Country must be sung regularly to revive and replenish it. It must also be cool burnt seasonally, to make easier travel and green shoots to feed traditionally hunted animals. Water holes must be kept open.

Within the Dampier Peninsula, the Song Cycle system unites all the west coast saltwater people: the Jawi, Bardi, Nyulnyul, Nimanburru, Warrwa, Jabirr Jabbirr, Ngumbarl, Jukun, Yawuru and Karajarri.  The boundaries of their territories (‘burus,’) and associated languages and Law, were established in Bugarigaara, at the beginning of time.

The responsibility for maintaining the Song Cycle is shared by the Law Bosses of all these clans.  Collectively, they look after the whole Song Cycle, working together. If one area is destroyed, the whole is affected.  However the Law Bosses for each buru have primary responsibility for it.

Other Bosses cannot override or speak for another’s buru, unless that buru’s Law Bosses jeopardise the greater Song Cycle system.


  1. A very interesting segment on ABC radio this morning with Rob Mailer,he had a lot of information on the workers camp and an interview with David Grey on the conditions.Towards the end he quoted from an article in the (West) about how Barnett was going to have to get used to the fact Australia was on the cusp of a lot of new technology and change in the LNG sector.James Price Point would not be going ahead and Chaney would be making a statement to that effect at the upcoming Woodside meeting in a few weeks.

    The Wilderness/Hunter case is being heard today.

    Burke must be close to a decision.(slamming the gov and Woodside science very likely).

    Woodside have been unable to sell any gas ahead of their FID.


    "Woodside under pressure on Browse deferral
    PUBLISHED: 04 Mar 2013 00:05:26 | UPDATED: 04 Mar 2013 13:06:29

    Slow take-up of Browse liquefied natural gas among customers in Asia has reinforced the belief in the market that Woodside Petroleum is heading for a deferral in the final investment decision of the $40 billion-plus Western Australian project."


    There is pressure to develop the Leviathan field,this will require a lot of careful attention by Woodside,a lot of problems with JPP would be most unwelcome.


    "Noble Ups Tamar Estimates to 10 Tcf

    Noble Energy, Inc. announced that the Tamar natural gas field offshore Israel has been successfully brought online

    The project is a technological and commercial milestone for Noble Energy and our partners. Building on this success, we are working with the government and our partners to sanction the next phase of development at Tamar and the domestic phase of Leviathan.""


    Myanmar will also require a lot of careful planning.


    "IOCs Line Up for Myanmar Offshore Licenses

    International oil companies are lining up for the right to prospect in untested waters off the coast of Myanmar.

    But uncertainty over how the once-isolated country will handle the projects and whether it will keep its commitments threaten to damp enthusiasm and delay much-needed revenue for one of Asia's poorest economies.

    But industry executives and consultants say hazards in the new blocks are high, citing scarce geological data, Myanmar's inexperienced officials, the possibility that contract terms will change and uncertain corporate governance standards at the country's state oil company.

    Foreign investors will bear all the exploration and development costs in the deep-water blocks. The government's exploration and production arm, Myanma Oil & Gas Enterprise, will have the right to purchase between 15% and 25% in projects that prove commercial,says Aung Kyaw Htoo, an assistant director in Myanmar's Energy Ministry. If initial studies of a block are encouraging, the companies must drill two wells within three years.

    With the cost of hiring a deep-water rig approaching $500,000 a day, only companies with deep pockets can get involved.

    "That's $300 million or more you have to spend in the first five years. It's a substantial investment and may not be worth the risk," says an executive at a European oil company. "I don't have much confidence that the terms they offer won't change several times," he says.

    Possible changes in Myanmar's legal and regulatory system, which some people say is outdated, also pose hazards.

    State-run Myanma Oil & Gas Enterprise has been criticized for its business practices and close ties with the military.

    Myanmar officials say they are working to address the concerns. "Our department is hugely understaffed. . . . We are constantly working on overtime, but are still struggling to meet our timelines," says Zaw Aung, MOGE's director of planning.

    Energy companies likely will recall what happened to mining firms in mineral-rich Mongolia, where the government has been trying to renegotiate contracts to gain more favorable returns.

  2. Some other emerging threats to the disaster prone JPP project.


    Japanese and Canadians sign shale-gas technology deal to improve LNG economics

    Thursday, 04 April 2013

    Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corp., the state-owned resources company, said it signed a deal with two Canadian energy companies and Mitsubishi Corp. to improve shale-gas extraction to reduce the costs of the Canadian LNG export industry.


    Green Dragon Gas: Estimated Reserve Volumes Up (China)

    Green Dragon Gas, one of the largest independent companies involved in the production of CBM gas and the distribution and sale of wholesale gas in China, announced an increase in its estimated reserve volumes and values as at 31 December 2012, as provided by independent reserve engineers Netherland Sewell & Associates, Inc (NSAI).

    Reserves Highlights:
    ◾Total Original Gas In Place of 25.2 Tcf on six blocks
    ◾Net 1P reserves increase 37% to 59 Bcf (2011: 43 Bcf) – 1P NPV 10 increase to US$ 324mn (2011: US$ 263mn)
    ◾Net 2P reserves increase 2% to 313 Bcf (2011: 307 Bcf) – 2P NPV 10 increase to US$ 1.82bn (2011: US$ 1.80bn)
    ◾Net 3P reserves decrease 0.2% to 2,508 Bcf (2011: 2,513 Bcf) – 3P NPV 10 increase to US$12.68bn (2011: US$ 12.61bn)


    Gazprom, Yemen Discuss Oil, Gas Cooperation

    Yemen’s proven gas reserves amount to 480 billion cubic meters, of which around 300 billion cubic meters is clustered in the vicinity of the Marib oil fields. A considerable part of gas produced domestically is injected in oil reservoirs for enhanced recovery purposes.

    In 2009 the LNG plant was commissioned in Balhaf on the shore of the Gulf of Aden. The total installed capacity of the Yemen LNG plant equals to 6.7 million tons a year.


    Rosneft and ExxonMobil to Build LNG Plant in Alaska

    Rosneft announced plans for a joint project with ExxonMobil to build a liquefied natural gas production plant in Alaska with an aim to export gas to the growing market in the Asia-Pacific region.


    Shell to sign Russian Arctic deal with Gazprom Neft, Kremlin reveals

    Shell has made no secret of its desire to expand further in Russia, where it already collaborates with Gazprom at the giant Sakhalin gas project offshore in the sub-Arctic of Eastern Siberia.

    Last summer Shell chief executive Peter Voser said: “From a strategic point of view we are open to further investments in Russia and therefore are looking at opportunities either [in] oil or LNG. We have talked with the various players. Those talks include Gazprom.”

    Russia has been courting international energy giants to help it exploit its vast oil and gas reserves, changing its tax regime to try to encourage inward investment.


    Romania: Thousands protest Chevron's shale gas plans in Romania

    04 Apr 2013
    Thousands of Romanians across the country protested on Thursday against Chevron's plans to explore for shale gas, demanding the country's leftist government withdraw concessions and ban drilling of the U.S. company's first test wells. About 500 rallied in the town of Barlad on the eastern border with Moldova where Chevron has a nearby 1.6 million acre concession, some wearing gas masks, many chanting 'Chevron go home.'

    Chevron has exploration rights for three blocks of 670,000 acres (270,000 hectares) near the Black Sea, and has also bought the concession close to Barlad for an undisclosed amount.

  3. "...reef systems can recruit corals from local sources, especially when fish are plentiful and human disturbances are limited."



    Scott Reef's quick recovery from bleaching

    WA's isolated Scott Reef lost almost all its corals to bleaching when ocean temperatures rose and scientists thought it would take decades to recover.

    But it has made a quick recovery, suggesting new corals can be recruited from local sources when fish are plentiful and reefs are not disturbed.

    Coral bleaching is a stress condition in reef corals.

    It is usually caused by higher water temperatures that break down the coral's symbiotic relationship with algae that provide food for coral growth.

    Scientists led by James Gilmour of the Australian Institute of Marine Science looked at the recovery of Scott Reef after extreme water temperatures struck in 1998 and up to 90 per cent of its corals were lost to bleaching.

    Because the reef is more than 250km from WA, recovery was expected to be slow as there were no nearby reef systems to supply coral larvae.

    But coral cover still increased from nine per cent to 44 per cent across the entire system in 12 years.

    Gilmour and colleagues suggest that's because herbivorous fish remained abundant in the Scott system, even after the bleaching.

    They believe the fish kept microalgae in check and allowed coralline algae to thrive.

    Their study, published in Science magazine, suggests that reef systems can recruit corals from local sources, especially when fish are plentiful and human disturbances are limited.
    There's little fishing at Scott Reef, apart from the harvesting of sea cucumber, trochus and shark fin by Indonesian islanders using traditional fishing methods.