Ask Darren Capewell about the Aboriginal history of Shark Bay and you may just see his chest swell a touch with pride. He is passionate about his people and his home – passions he loves to share.
Despite having lived in Perth playing football for East Fremantle, hobnobbing with decision makers and speaking at conferences about the way forward for his people, it is here in Shark Bay that Darren Capewell is truly at home.
Chat with Capes, as he is known, in this setting and note his eyes twinkling with humour and passion as he recounts stories about his people and the land. Watch how at ease he is with nature and find yourself joining him in another world – a world where your everyday troubles are forgotten and you’re reawakened to the beauty and magic of nature.
The tours, called Wula Guda Nyinda, meaning “you come this way”, explore much about the region’s Aboriginal past. They delve into Dreamtime stories, Aborigines’ traditional ways, language and their incredible understanding of the environment.
Through Capes’ tours your eyes will be opened to the lives of Shark Bay’s Aboriginal people today and the major role they played in starting the region’s pastoral and pearling industries.
Indeed, Capes says the tours are all about helping others see the world through Aboriginal eyes. “It’s about looking at the world from an Aboriginal perspective – about understanding why Shark Bay is so important to my people,” he says.
“For me, it started as a way of understanding more about my own culture and heritage, but now it is also about helping other people understand and appreciate that as well.”
Starting out from the Monkey Mia amphitheatre, Capes greets his tour participants with a “welcome to country” in the Malgana language of the people of the region.
He goes on to explain that Shark Bay is known as Gathaagudu by the Malgana people – a word meaning two bays or two waters. Then comes the best part of the tour as Capes leads you on a one to two-hour journey along the pristine shores of Monkey Mia.
Along the way, he stops at inconspicuous looking bushes and explains their use as bush tucker – the seeds from a particular wattle can be ground into flour and the coggler bush bears bananas. You can even taste some of the bush offerings in the right season. Who would have thought this semi-arid bushland hid such a veritable feast of true-blue tucker?
Continuing on, Capes fills you in on fascinating tales about the past – Dreamtime tales of the turtle and stories about the first encounters with Europeans two centuries ago.
He explains how the Shark Bay Aborigines are blessed to possess both a land and seafaring nature. In traditional times, this gave them the benefit of two food sources.
Standing above a rust red dune, Capes points to the water when his keen eyes spot a dolphin, a shark, a dugong, a turtle or a school of fish in the waters below. He explains how Aboriginal people used these marine creatures, not only for sustenance but also as principle players in Dreamtime stories, which helped strengthen the people’s sacred relationship with the sea and land.
Capes’ tours cost $25 for adults and $15 for children under 16. They run seven days a week at 9am and 2pm from Monkey Mia. You don’t need anything special to come along – just a hat and sunscreen, a camera and a readiness to reawaken your appreciation for culture and nature.
For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact 0429 708 847 or Monkey Mia Resort on (08) 99 481 032.
Explore Surrounding Areas: Coral Coast > Shark Bay to Gnaraloo > Shark Bay World Heritage