Cultural Custodian and local Wadandi man Josh Whiteland spent his childhood growing up on the beaches of Busselton and Dunsborough, and camping along the Blackwood River during Marron season. Today, Josh runs Koomal Dreaming and Cape Cultural Tours, where he shares his passion for native foods, bush cooking, and the land. ‘Koomal’ is in fact Josh’s traditional name, and is the Wadandi word for brushtail possum and the totem chosen for him by his Wadandi Elders.
Below, Josh shares his favourite local places and things to do – they’re almost too good to reveal.
1. Favourite Beach?
It’s hard to say but probably Eagle Bay. It’s part of Meelup Regional Park. I have a lot of family connections there. My great grandfather created a lot of the roads in the Meelup – Castle Bay area with a bulldozer back in the ’40s and ’50s so that people could go salmon fishing there. And before that – my mother’s family and their ancestors went camping down at the beach, spearing salmon and smoking them on the beach. And this time of year – Bunuru season – it’s just perfect. The water is always crystal clear and calm for fishing and swimming. It’s a safe beach – there’s no surge and no waves so it’s great for families, and it’s also that little bit warmer being further north.
2. Where do you take visitors?
I live in Dunsborough (Quedjinup), so I usually take people to the Meelup Regional Park. Every afternoon with the south westerly winds it has calmed off. If it’s in the morning, I’ll usually take visitors over to Yallingup or Injidup, or Smiths Beach. If I’ve got time, I’ll take them to Kilkarnup or Boranup beach.
3. Top three local food experiences?
I love sourcing local produce. I love fishing and collecting of my own foods. I do a couple of nice dishes and depending on the season and what seafood we’re focusing on. At the moment it’s abalone and marron season so those would be feature ingredients.
4. Favourite Drinking Hole?
5. Best Fun Without Spending a Cent?
Obviously you can’t go past the beaches, bushwalking or mountain biking. And even just going camping – no crowds, no cost – and I’d recommend camping along the Blackwood River. Most of the things I do don’t come at much of a cost. I’ve created my work around the things I love and I haven’t looked back. That’s why I called it Koomal Dreaming!
6. Favourite Time of Year?
Bunuru season because you’ve got the migration of the salmon, so the fishing is good. It’s also marron season and abalone season. And you get good tides so you can cruise along the coast lots of low tides and high tides so again, great for fishing. Also it is a beautiful time to be in nature, there’s the harvesting of native fruits, flowering Eucalyptus trees, white tailed and black tailed cockatoos. You can walk around in a pair of shorts at night time because it’s humid. And there’s lots of events happening locally too.
7. Best Place to Watch the Sunset?
Injidup and Sugarloaf Rock. Also Mitchell Rocks – Wyadup. Yeah lots of good memories there.
8. You can’t leave the Margaret River Region without…
Understanding the place. Once you understand a place a bit better, you tend to look after it a bit more. Immerse yourself in the local culture of the place – and when I say local culture that’s not just Aboriginal culture, that’s the culture of the South West – the Warren Blackwood Cape to Cape. And that’s probably a reason why people tend to come back as well.