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Nartj waarnkiny - how to say it

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Nartj Wah

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Karda, carda or kaada is a species of large Australian monitor lizard. It's scientific name is Varanus gouldii and one of its English names is Gould’s Monitor, both named after the English scientist John Gould who first described it scientifically. Other English names are the sand goanna, or racehorse goanna, or in Western Australia the bungarra (from a non-Noongar aboriginal language).[1] It may also be called the "sand monitor", but that name is used for other lizards too.

There is a description or story about the karda, using old terms from around 1900 (some of the words are no longer accurate, e.g., it would not be called an iguana today), from a book:[2]

There is a species of iguana called carta by the Nyunghars, about 1.2 to 1.8 metres in length from head to tail. She scrapes a small hole around 8 centimetres across through the hard outer crust of the ants’ nest, makes a nest in the central soft earth and lays her eggs. The ants build up the cells and cover the hole with crust but leave the carta eggs intact. For two or three weeks, the eggs are left to incubate in the heat that the nest generates.

At the end of that interval, the parent carta comes back to reopen the hole and check on her eggs. The ant eggs are hatching out at about the same time and the ants need to maintain the heat in the nest. By midday, the carta has scratched open the hole and by the evening ants have covered it up again. This goes on for five or six days until all the young cartas are hatched out.

Bush medicine

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Ailing health was treated by eating cooked karda, yoorn (bobtail) or nyingarn (echidna).[3]

Moolawa Waarnk - Stories about Karda

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From the same book:[2]

We could always tell when there were carta eggs in a white ant nest because of the small round patch of different-coloured softer clay in the outer crust. Carta eggs are about the size of a pigeon’s egg with a very tough outer skin, rather than shell. When roasted in wood ashes they are delicious, resembling very rich custard in taste and appearance, for the yolk and albumen seem to be mixed together. The difficultly is in telling which eggs have just been deposited from those about to hatch, for the cartas seem to be laying and hatching all summer.

One morning young Minden and Perriup, boys of about seven and eight discovered a soft patch on a nest and with their little wannas set to work to break in and get the carta eggs. It was not a freshly made nest; but one into which the parent carta had been breaking regularly to check her eggs. The boys had no right to eat the eggs because they were considered food for old men and women, but they ate them anyway; even the ones in a half-hatched state.

The parent carta came along to perform her morning task of checking her eggs and seeing the plunder taking place, rushed yira onto Minden’s back as he was stooping down and fastened her powerful claws to his head. With a howl of terror Minden jumped yira and tried to free himself, whilst Perriup scampered yira the nearest tree. With some difficulty Minden managed to repel his attacker. However when a carta is frightened it will run over or yira any obstacles in its escape-path. Thus as soon as the carta had been repulsed by Minden she ran yira the tree in which Perriup was taking refuge. Perriup sat motionless, terrified of attracting her attention, and Minden, scratched and bleeding, stood below the tree afraid to move in case the carta came down and attacked him. Gervase found them amongst eaten eggs and baby cartas, baled yira by an enraged ngarngk carta clinging to the side of the tree. That day, two frightened little boys learned another lesson about eating forbidden meats.

Ngiyan waarnk

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  1. Pilbara Bungarra. Example use of "Bungarra" on ABC website. Retrieved 1 August 2016
  2. 2.0 2.1 My dusky friends : sketches of the south eastern natives of Western Australia, 1861-1910. Compiled Mrs. A. Y. Hassell. Web pub Rediscovering Indigenous Languages. Retrieved 1 August 2016
  3. Vivienne Hansen and John Horsfall. "Get well soon, the Noongar way". Australian Geographic. 1 February 2017. Retrieved 25 February 2019