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How Barrm Birrm got its name

Updated: Nov 25, 2022

Dogs love Barrm Birrm - what dog doesn't like stepping out along a dirt road, surrounded by all those fresh scents, and what dog owner doesn't love seeing their dog following their instincts?

However, if you've got a dog like my daughter's Border Collie, then they chase the roos. With a rounding up instinct, the dog is happy enough with the chase itself, and the roos stay well ahead. But perhaps a hunting dog would keep going, looking for a kill. That worries me, so I thought I'd raise the question for all you dog owners:

'On lead or off lead'?

I put this question to dog lover Lyn Hovey, and her answer came bundled with story of how Barrm Birrm got its name. Here's what happened:

"In 2005 when Riddells Creek Landcare was formed, the core objective was to save the flora of the area formerly known as the Shone-Scholtz Land or the Riddell Ranges Estate. The RCL committee decided that it needed a new identity based on its old attributes.

We spoke to Wurundjeri people who suggested we go to VACL, the Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages to find a local name for a place of many flowers.

I set off to VACL with my best friend in the front seat.

After a delightful conversation with Alex, a young linguist, I left with a long list of words and phrases in the Woiwurrung language and a rough idea of how to say them. On the way home I tried them all out, loudly one after the other.

Banmil-dhal. (of the hill)

Dhanguth. ( pronounced dungoot, eating food)

Pike or bika. (Lily)

Garong. (Wattle)

Terrat. (Geranium)

Willam. (place of)

Willam-dhal-terrat-birrm. (Place of many geraniums)

Birrm or pirt pirt. (meaning many of, or several inanimate things)

Barrm (yam root)

Barrm Birrm Willam. (place of many yam roots)

When I got to BARRM BIRRM my front seat companion barked wildly, ecstatically. LET’S GO! LET’S GO!

Back at the committee meeting there was agreement all round.

Today Dusty the blue heeler has gone to chase rabbits in the clouds but Wolly the red heeler has a great appreciation of Barrm Birrm. First we go to a fenced space (the cemetery) where he can chase rabbits and wear off a bit of free dog energy.

Then we go to Barrm Birrm.

He takes his human for a slow, sniffing, respectful walk at the end of a lead."

Good on ya Wolly

PS from Julie: What you need to add is that dogs can be grabbed and injured, even killed by roos, and roos can be injured, joeys abandoned if chased by dogs. Both species can enjoy Barrm if dogs are on a lead.

PPS from Ross:

Roo Project.

They are there.

They were here before we arrived, but we don't know so much about them.

We could easily learn more, and be happier for that knowledge and the relationship that would form.

1) at landscape scale, all along that spur uphill from Riddell, the foothills, where the range runs out to the volcanic plain ...... what mobs are distributed across the foothills at the edge of Riddell; how much do they move around, and what routes do they use, how territorial are the mobs

2) at local scale, say for the Barrm Birrm hillside ..... where do they shelter up, where do they feed, where do they lie down during the day, what's the structure of a family

And so on. This would create a reason to walk around doing not much, simply staying aware of where the roos have been, and might be, and from time to time, there they are!

You stopped thinking about them, and were simply absorbed in your own walking, and you looked up, the way an animal does when disturbed by someone's gaze ..... and there they are, upright, looking at you.

A project for someone with a lot of time on their hands!

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