Billiaum – Deep Sea Home (Now Submerged)

Billiaum combines the word billia for deep sea, out from the shore, and womwoum, our home and belonging. When the Sea was young, before the vast plain was submerged, our Mirning People lived on the land of the continental shelf. Our ancestors hunted for kangaroo and other animals and collected bush tucker food. In our Mirning language, we call this Billiaum, our deep-Sea Country home, which was once land. Our people lived and hunted there, collecting water from the fresh water soaks and the underground rivers. There was fresh drinking water available all the time. We also gathered red and yellow and white ochre for celebration and ceremony in thanks giving, in honour and worship for what is given. We still hold stories for these sacred places and hold responsibilities and duties to protect them. We still collect the ochre that washes up and use in celebration and ceremony.

Yetarngarin, the continental shelf is the place where our ancestors lived, where they walked on what is now the seabed and practiced ceremony at Bingaring, our sacred ochre site below the waves. Our Elders shared with us how the sea went out before it came in, which we can now see happened before 30,000 years ago, with this story having travelled through roughly 1,500 generations.

Source: McCarthy, J. South Australia Coast Sea Level 36ka -8ka, Project for the Mirning Elders.