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A track marker from the Bibbulmun Track with an image of the Wagyl

The Wagyl (alternative spelling Waugl, Waugal, Waugyl or Waagal) is, according to Noongar culture, a snakelike dreamtime creature responsible for the creation of the Swan and Canning Rivers and other waterways and landforms around present day Perth and the south-west of Western Australia

The Rainbow Serpent or Wagyl as it was known in the South West of Western Australia created many the local landscape features between the Porongarups (Spirit (=Borong) gathering (=Gar) place (=Up)) and off the coast of Fremantle. It was delegated to protect the rivers, lakes, springs and the wildlife. Wagyl sacred sites tend to be natural sun-traps, located beside bodies of water. The Noongar people were appointed as the guardians of the land by the Wagyl.[1] The Wagyl was seen by certain tribal elders who spoke to the dreamtime being.

The Darling Scarp is said to represent the body of the Wagyl, which meandered over the land creating the curves and contours of the hills and gullies. The being is strongly associated with rivers, lakes like Lake Monger, and is supposed still to reside deep beneath springs. As the Wagyl slithered over the land, his track shaped the sand dunes, his body scoured out the course of the rivers; where he occasionally stopped for a rest, he created bays and lakes. Piles of rocks are said to be his droppings, and such sites are considered sacred. As he moved, his scales scraped off and become the forests and woodlands of the region.

The Wagyl stories may represent the survival in oral tradition of extinct Australian megafauna, as there was a python-like snake, Wonambi naracoortensis, with a length of five or six metres.[2]

See also


  1. ^ Rosemary Van den Berg Changing Years, Journal of the South Pacific Association for Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies, 1993
  2. ^ Age of the Megafauna ABC Science website 'Oz Fossils' (2008)


  • Wilkes, Richard. Societal value systems for water resources in Western Australia Water symposium
  • Western Australia. Dept. of Conservation and Land Management (1998), Sharing the dreaming : Nyoongar Aboriginal stories of the dreaming : the wagyl, Dept. of Conservation & Land Management, retrieved 15 November 2012
  • http://www.west.com.au/maps&myths/
  • Flannery, Tim (2002) The Future Eaters: an Ecological History of the Australian Lands and People ISBN 0-8021-3943-4
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