A wagyl’s revenge

Matt Benson-Parry, Wagyl & Dewi (2007)

Matt Benson-Parry, Wagyl & Dewi (2007)

The last time Dodgy Perth was in Claremont was to see a band at the Claremont Hotel. But next time we’ll be making a short pilgrimage to see a verified home of a wagyl.

Some white folk have an impression that wagyls (there were many of them—not to be confused with The Wagyl) were well-meaning creative spirits who just happened to look like big snakes. Not even close.

Wagyls were extremely dangerous and their presence alone at a place could make it winnaitch (taboo). And such was the case at Karbomunup Hill in Claremont, roughly where Osborne and Bindaring Parades meet.

Once on this hill, according to legend, some children broke an important food law, and the wagyl living there became so boogur (angry) it came out of the hill and swallowed all the men, women and children of the place. All except one woman, who was gobbelguttuk (pregnant).

A peculiar shaped stone on or near the shore at Claremont was supposed to have actually been the gobbelguttuk woman. The stone and the hill were ever after winnaitch. Just to go there was to risk death.

In 1894, when the Osborne Hotel was built on Karbomunup Hill, the owner announced a corroboree as one of the opening-day attractions. Naturally, no local Aborigine would take part, so some North West folk were recruited instead.

A much retold story says that two of the North Westerners fell down while dancing, and although taken to the white man’s hospital they soon died. Locals said that had been wagyl bom—wagyl struck.

Definitely worth a trip out to Claremont to see if the wagyl is still active.