The story of the giant man Mulka, one of the oldest Noongar stories that gives Katanning its ‘placename’, has been explored through a Noongar led community arts project involving large and small scale puppets, visual art works, videos and a recorded narration. This story of Mulka presented hereis a version for the general public. We recognise that many people hold and look after parts of the full story. During Harmony Festival 2020, the Katanning Noongar Leadership Group shared this rich cultural story with the broader Katanning community and visitors.
This collaboration began in July 2018 when Community Arts Network (CAN) was invited to present the Place Names project to the Katanning Noongar Leadership Group with a formal partnership developed shortly afterwards. Professor Len Collard then worked with Elders and community from the Great Southern towns of Katanning, Tambellup, Gnowangerup and Badgebup where they began decoding Noongar place names over several workshops. Through these workshops the connection between local place names in Katanning, surrounding areas and the Noongar story about the giant man, Mulka, emerged.
Following extensive consultation and community engagement, the Katanning Noongar Leadership Group and the Place Names Project Working Group undertook a process of collating, recollecting and remembering cultural knowledge to put back together the story of Mulka. The story starts 26 kms south east of Wiluna and comes all the way down to Katanning. It is a story deeply embedded in boodja (country) and it holds the meaning behind Katanning and surrounding towns, teaching us that these place names are more than words but form part of a greater, significant Noongar story.
The morals of this story relate to the social organisation of the Noongar people including marriage laws, protection of koolangahs (children) and yorgkas (women) and caring for boodja (country); to preserve the continuity with land and people.