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Synergies of Meaning: A documentary film series exploring the relationship and unity between traditional Indigenous Nyoongar knowledge and western natural and social scientific knowledge

This project explores the resonances between traditional Nyoongar wisdom and modern natural or social science. The first output is a documentary film, featuring Dr. Noel Nannup and Professor Stephen Hopper, who explore boodja (Nyoongar land) and the capacity of its flora, fauna and human populations to adapt to climate change.

The research underpinning this film needed a framework for the coherent expression of two versions of the boodja journey through time. The framework is timelined with content naturally falling into eight ancient eras, from 300 million to 7000 years ago, and three modern eras from 7000 years ago to today. The content of the timeline is generated by simultaneous interrogation of traditional Nyoongar stories and Western scientific knowledge about the land. The Nyoongar version was drawn from Nyoongar boodja creation and other stories. The Western version is generated by a synthesis and distillation of climate history, geology and archaeology. The synergies between the two stories are astounding.

Dr Nannup and Professor Hopper walk together sharing Nyoongar and western scientific understandings of landscape processes and biodiversity and explore some of the great correlations between Noongar and western scientific understanding of the age of landscapes, the ‘loss’ of mega fauna, sea level fluctuations and the exceptionally rich biodiversity and how we can adapt to the inevitability of change.

Thanks to a grant from Lottery West we are about to move into post-production phase with a launch planned in early June 2015.

Funding agency


Project duration

January 2014 - June 2015


Dr Francesca Robertson
Dr Noel Nannup
Professor Colleen Hayward AM
Dr Glen Stasiuk (Murdock University)
Professor Stephen Hopper (Biodiversity Environment Botanic Gardens)

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