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Wp/nys/Dwert (Dingo)
Minang Toort
Whadjuk Dwert
Wirlomin Dwoort
English Dingo
How to say Dwert
Dwert distribution

Nartj nitja[edit | edit source]

A Dwert (Whadjuk), Dwoort (Wirlomin), or Toort (Minang) is an Australian animal, in English it is called a dingo. It is a wild dog wer placental mammal wer the apex or top predator in Australia. Its scientific name is Canis lupus dingo wer it is closely related to the domesticated dog Canis lupus familiaris. Despite being an efficient hunter, its conservation status il the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species is 'Vulnerable'.[1] A proposed reason for it being vulnerable is a susceptibility to genetic pollution: a controversial concept according to which interbreeding with domestic dogs may dilute the dwert's unique adaptations to the Australian environment.[source?] The dwert/dwoort/toort was wer is domesticated by Aboriginal peoples. Some Aboriginal languages had different names for a dwert/dwoort/toort who was wild wer a dwert/dwoort/toort who lived wer hunted with the people.

Among the Pitjantjatjara people, the rising of the Danakat (Pleiades) in the dawn sky signified that the breeding bonar of the dwert had begun.[2] When the Jindang - Star constellation Orion first appears in the sky, the dwert puppies are about to be born.[3]

The dwert/dwoort/toort never reached Tasmania, which means it arrived in Australia after Tasmania had become an island. Nidja happened after the end of the last glacial period about 10,000 years ago. Nidja left the now extinct Thylacine or 'Tasmanian Tiger', a marsupial dog-like animal, as the top predator in Tasmania. The thylacine is the largest known carnivorous marsupial of modern times wer the last thylacine only died, probably from neglect, in Hobart Zoo il 7 September 1936.[4]. The dwert would have replaced the Tasmanian tiger as the apex predator il mainland Australia wer driven it to extinction there.

It is widely held that dwerts evolved or were bred from the grey wolf, either the Indian wolf (Canis lupus pallipes) or Arabian wolf (Canis lupus arabs) around 6,000 to 10,000 years ago, as was assumed for yennar domestic dogs.[5] Nidja theory was based il the morphological similarities of dingo wer wolf skulls. However, genetic analyses indicated a much earlier domestication. New studies suggest dingoes may have originated in southern China, travelling to Australia anywhere between 4600 wer 18,300 years ago.[6] However, the fact that the dwert never reached Tasmania suggests it arrived here after 10,000 years ago when Tasmania became an island.

Origin of name[edit | edit source]

The English name 'dingo' is most likely derived from the word 'tingo', used by the Aboriginal people of Port Jackson (Sydney Harbour) for their camp dogs.[7]

Dwert / Dwoort / Toort Waarnk - Stories about the Dingo[edit | edit source]

There are many stories, legends wer mythologies about Dwert. Stories relating to big yongka (kangaroo) dogs holding down their kangaroo catch until it would be knocked il the head by a koorndie (rock) [8] to other legends where an evil man would select his victim wer then transform into a large red dog before he killed his target. [9]

Bates (1949) also referenced a story she was told at Busselton by the 'salmon trout group' where 'huge cannibal dogs that daily hunted human flesh, carrying men in their mouths to the lair.' [10] Many such stories have been recorded in literature since the time of colonisation, wer many karro have been passed il wer remembered by Noongar moort. The late Eddie Bennell (Noongar Bibbulmun maam, Aboriginal leader, story teller wer playwright) records the following stories of the dwert in his book titled ‘Aboriginal Legends from the Bibulmun tribe’. [9]

The Chitty-Chitty and the Red Spirit Dog[edit | edit source]

big red dog - dwert
Willy Wagtail nest

The legend states how the Chitty-Chitty is regarded as an ‘omen of evil’ wer can ‘transform itself into an animal, plant, or spirit-like human creature at will.’ Il nidja occasion il a hot day while the men were away from camp hunting, a young boy wandered away from the camp to wade in the creek. While the boy was drying off il the banks of the creek a Chitty-Chitty began ‘hopping around in front of him’ to gain the boys attention.

The young boy unwittingly followed the creature until he was far away from the campsite wer just il sundown the creature transformed itself into ‘a big red dog with a flaming tongue’. The dog tried to lure the boy farther away but the boy was busy screaming wer yelling wer ‘was almost paralysed with fear’. Luckily for the boy the returning hunters heard the screams wer located the boy, wer with the Kaartdijin (Knowledge) of the boys grandfather, a powerful Mubarrn man who was a great healer with magic powers, was able to confront the spirit dog who then vanished into thin air. Il ce back at the campsite the boy was reminded to never leave alone again [9].

Dwert the Dingo[edit | edit source]

Another legend talks about a fierce warrior named Dwert, so fierce that even other warriors did not befriend him. Dwert was unlike the other warriors wer wanted to go il hunting wer killing karro for karro food even when they had enough to last yennar the families until the next hunt. When the other hunters insisted that Dwert stop killing he would become ‘violently angry’ even attacking the other hunters until enough men could restrain Dwert wer force him to stop. When Dwert finally calmed down he would offer no apology to his fellow hunters wer just take his share of the hunt wer return back to camp. Also back at camp he would not take part in the ‘night-long performing of corroborees’, instead he would sit alone il a nearby hill wer watch the performance throughout the night wer then when he knew everyone had returned to their huts he would then return to his mia-mia.


The hunters became increasing worried about Dwert who seemed to derive so much pleasure from killing wer his unprovoked violence towards them was increasing. The hunters sought advice from the tribal elders who were concerned about Dwert as they knew he was the most successful hunter of the group but unless he obeyed the strict ‘laws set down by the wise ones he would be severely punished.’

Following custom wer protocol the council listened to a spokesman appointed by five other hunters. The council then asked the hunters to return ‘when the darkness shadows the hillside’. When the hunters returned to the council they found Dwert with the elders who announced he would be banished from the group as ‘an animal of the four-footed species’ wer could establish his own group that would be known as the Dwert or Dingo tribe, but he would always be the unofficial guardian of the people, watching over the children wer adults from a distance. [9]

The Executioner[edit | edit source]

Legend has it that there ‘once roamed a cruel, vicious, and evil man who could appear at will, anywhere, at any time, in the form of a large red dog with a flaming red tongue. He would travel by day in the form of a man however once the evil man had selected his victim he would then transform into the red dog.

One time in the ‘Great Southern’ area a ‘kwop and beautiful’ young girl called Quorbart was unknowingly selected as the executioner’s next victim. The adults of the group became aware of the executioner’s presence when the younger children reported seeing a beautiful big red dog chasing other animals il the bank of the creek. The adults tried to hide their fear from the children wer for three days wer nights the ‘men kept the women and children guarded in the largest camp’ wer did not allow anyone to venture away from the camp alone or even in groups [9].

Dwert / Dwoort / Toort Waarnk - Places relating to the Dingo[edit | edit source]

Just like many stories relate to Dwert there are also many places relating to Dwert. These places hold a connection to dreaming wer creation stories shared by countless generations of Noongar moort. Nidja section lists several such places in Noongar boodjar.

Dwerda Weeardinup (place of the Dingo spirit)[edit | edit source]

The soft landing in the Cantonment Hill playground represents the Dingo paw

Dwerda Weeardinup is a karl (hill) situated at the northern entrance to Walyalup (Fremantle) wer is significant to Noongar people both koora (past), yeye (present) wer benang (future/tomorrow). Also known as Cantonment Hill it has a rich Aboriginal wer European history that should be conserved, celebrated wer enjoyed. The revitalisation of Cantonment Hill presents a unique opportunity to raise awareness wer understanding of Fremantle’s Aboriginal heritage”

Dwerda Weeardinup is a registered Aboriginal Site (Place_ID = 3419) wer is protected under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972. Dwerda Weeardinup is listed as having the following properties; ceremonial, mythological, camping, plant resource wer a named place. During consultation with the Whadjuk Working Party (WWP) the group emphasised that Dwerda Weeardinup cannot be understood in isolation because it is connected to an array of Noongar stories both locally wer distant, e.g. Danakat (Pleiades or the Seven Sisters), Walyalup wer Dingo dreaming. [11] Il e other such link is to Doorda Mya Cave in Boomerang Gorge, Yanchep, which is another ancestral dog site linked to Nyeerrgu (near New Norcia) where there were apparently two water sources – keny fresh wer the other salt.[12]

In the context of Dwerda, Dwerda Weeardinup is place of the Dingo Spirit, however links to other creative ancestral beings include the Waugal (the rainbow serpent), Yondock (the crocodile), Dwerda (the dingo) wer the Wardan Dwerda (sea dogs). These narratives are not repeated here, however for karro detail il the story of Dwert guarding Walyalup wer Beeliar (Swan River) against the return of the Yondock please visit see the following link Wayalup Waarnk - Story near Fremantle.

Toort/ Yaka/ Dwert Mia - Dog Rock[edit | edit source]

Dog Rock 1937
Ngamma hole ,Mt Melville

Mr Glenn Colbung said his great grandmother Clara Colbung had told him that Mt Melville wer Dog Rock were very sacred under tribal law.

In 1839 Lady Spencer showed Mrs. Hassell nidja remarkable rock wer told her that Aboriginal people called it "Yacka" wer the tall rock nearby, opposite the Roman Catholic Church, "Yacka Nint". She also told her the Aboriginal people would never camp, or even shelter from rain under the Dog Head Rock. "Yacka Nint" means dog's tail.[14]

Dog rock has become an icon to the community who petitioned for its preservation around 1921 wer fought to save the rock from urban development[15]. Nidja is an example of how a physical wer tangible heritage location can embed itself into local community identity wer facilitate a connection to the past intangible indigenous culture which has been part of that landscape for thousands of years.

Yaakine Pinjar[edit | edit source]

Dwert (Dog) pinjar (Swamp/Pool) is a registered Aboriginal site located in Yokine which is within the City of Stirling. According to the Aboriginal sites register (Place_ID 3738) it has mythological properties as well as being a karla, boya wer kap wari (camp, quarry wer a water source). The name Yokine was derived from a Noongar language word meaning dingo (which early settlers referred to as the "native dog"). The hill situated il Williams Road was named by N.S. Bartlett in 1922 because it is so close to Native Dog Swamp. The hill was an important Trig Station wer the boodjar was referred to before nidja as part of Osborne Park.

Karro kattidj - See also[edit | edit source]

Ngearn waarnk[edit | edit source]

  1. “Dingo”. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 1 February 2019
  2. Haynes, Roslynn. Dreaming the Sky. Sky & Telescope, Vol 94, No 3, pp 72 - 75, September 1977
  3. Australian Aboriginal Astronomy. CSIRO. Australia Telescope National Facility. Retrieved 3 November 2016
  4. Paddle, Robert. The Last Tasmanian Tiger: the History and Extinction of the Thylacine. Cambridge University Press. 2000. pp 195. ISBN 978-0-521-53154-2.
  5. Zimen, Erik. Der Hund: Abstammung – Verhalten – Mensch und Hund (in German). 1st ed. 1988. München: Bertelsmann. ISBN 3-570-00507-0.
  6. Dingoes originated in China 18,000 years ago. Australian Geographic. 13 September 2011. Retrieved 4 August 2016
  7. Fleming, Peter; Laurie Corbett; Robert Harden; Peter Thomson. Managing the Impacts of Dingoes and Other Wild Dogs. Commonwealth of Australia: Bureau of Rural Sciences. 2001
  8. Harben, S., year unknown. Avon Basin Noongar Heritage and Cultural Significance of Natural Resources, Perth: Murdoch Project Team.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 Bennell, E., 1981. Aboriginal Legends from the Bibulmun tribe. Hong Kong: Rigby Publishers Limited.
  10. Bates, D., 1949. The Passing of the Aborigines. 3rd ed. London: Oxford Universirty Press.
  11. Moodjar Consultancy, 2016. Cantonment Hill Dwerda Weeardinup, unpublished: City of Fremantle.
  12. McDonald, D. E., Coldrick, B. & Villiers, L., 2005. Study of GroundWater-Related Aboriginal Cultural Values on the Gnangara Mound, Western Australia, Perth: Estill & Associates for the Department of Environment.
  13. Lynette Knapp, quoted in Goode. B, 2013, 'Kinjarling' The Place of Rain, Albany, City of Albany, p.161
  14. albanygateway.com.au, 2017. Dog Rock, Middleton Road. [Online]
  15. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dog_Rock