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Native tribes frequenting the western shore of northern Spencer Gulf were dominantly Barngarla people who culturally belonged to the Lake Eyre and Lake Torrens tribes. The aboriginals inhabiting the Whyalla area were identified as Malkaripangala, a subdivision of Barnagarla.

However, the major mythical significance of this north-east corner of Eyre Peninsula has also been shared by two culturally and linguistically different groups of Andjamathanha people from Flinders Ranges and Kokatha tribes from north-western desert.

There was a major sand camp area, also of mythical significance, at Weeroona Bay (now on Santos property) and under Hummock Hill in Whyalla used by Malkaripangala (Barngarla). These two sites represent three different approaches of native Australians to the fishing grounds in the gulf.

The Point Lowly area reveals the remains of two stony fish traps. A rock wall extending from the beach was built across a tidal channel. When a school of fish entered or had been herded in by people wading in the water, the sea end was enclosed trapping the fish inside.

The mangrove inlets south of Whyalla served the similar purpose with a timber made “gates’ (the bushes or branches) used instead of stones.

Big fish such as snapper were speared from the rocks at Black Point at False Bay. The spears used were short with a non hooked sharp single tip. There is no material or oral evidence available relating that nets, hooks or any kind of vessels were used in the area.

However, a third fishing method, used by Malkaripankala or Barngarla tribes makes them outstanding. All three tribal groups Bangarla, Andjamanthanha and Kokatha agreed that Point Lowly was the place where people used to “sing to the sharks”. This phenomenon is more widely known to be associated with the peoples of the Pacific islands.

Weeroona Bay was one of the places, where the men gathered at the rocks, and while the women danced on the beach, the men ‘sang to the sharks’ that gathered schools of fish and drove them towards the beach. The men then entered the shallow water and gathered the fish. The last person able to ‘sing the sharks’ passed away in the late 1960s. The other place recognized for “shark singing” was at Point Gibbon south of Cowell.

The eastern coast of northern Spencer Gulf was not easy accessible because of the extensive coastal swamps and shallow water.

(Source: Natural History of Eyre Peninsula, Adelaide, 1985. Santos Port Bonython Study, 1981. Sarah Martin, Eyre Peninsula and west Coast Aboriginal Fish Trap Survey, Adelaide, 1988)

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