Last week, Wheatbelt NRM’s Noongar Boodja Ranger Team assisted the Shire of Northam in cleaning and maintaining Burlong Pool, which is a site of cultural significance to the local Noongar people of Northam. It is believed to be the summer home of the Wargal, the giant snakelike creature that created waterways and brought life to the land and it’s customary to throw a handful of sand into the water out of respect. Our team were rather nervous then, when they uncovered a Burton’s Legless Lizard in the process. Although often mistaken for a snake, our staff member, Judd Stead, confirmed that the reptile was quite harmless, fairly widespread and seen in a range of colours.
The area underwent a major clean-up and transformation from 2008 – 2015, with the help of at least six different organisations, including Wheatbelt NRM, the Shire of Northam and the local Aboriginal community. Our ranger team spent two days managing weeds and removing rubbish from the Burlong Pool grounds, with the location now looking super tidy and more attractive for visitors to this important site.
Once upon a time Burlong Pool was approximately 50 metres wide, one kilometre long and in some places, six metres deep. Looking into the depths of the pool in certain spots, you would have been able to see springs bubbling with fresh drinking water. It was a favourite location for the townsfolk of Northam for water activities. Swimming carnivals were held, swimming lanes were put up and swimming clubs were formed, complete with change rooms and bathing sheds. Burlong Pool was known as the best playground for people, especially on the weekends when there were bands, concerts and other events held there with hundreds of people attending. The site was also used as a training location in water crossings by the military and for recreational activities for the local Northam community in the 1940s and 50s.