Spring 2022 Bec’s blog

Wildflowers in the Murchison, including bright red and black, white, yellow and purple specimens growing in the red Murchison soil.
Murchison in bloom. Credit: Andrew Zic.

Welcome to another edition of MRO News. We’ve entered the Noongar season of Kambarang in Perth, when the wildflowers put on their best showing down here – a bit behind the splendour of the Murchison’s display which I’ve seen is still going strong from its good start a few months ago. The steady rains might have made access across the Murchison a bit difficult at times, but it has kept most of Country in bloom.

It’s a busy period for the team now as we’re both ramping up for full ASKAP survey science (read more in the ASKAP update below) and as we work to prepare the MRO for SKA-Low construction to start in coming months.

I was in Geraldton in early September for the Wajarri Yamaji community meeting to discuss the new Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) for the MRO, it was great to see so many familiar faces again, as well as some new ones to me. Our partnership with the Wajarri community has been long standing since before the original ILUA for the MRO in 2009, and this new milestone in our relationship is a highlight for me as we get ready to move into a new phase for the site and our support of the SKA project.

Along these lines, the Wajarri Yamaji have gifted us with a beautiful traditional name for the observatory site. We’re looking forward to announcing it officially in early November, so watch this space (and our website) for the details. We’ll have a factsheet on how to use the new dual name and its meaning ready then, and as always you can reach out with any questions as we work through the process of transitioning to our new dual name.

As I mentioned in the last issue, we recently had students from the Pia Wadjarri Remote Community School down in Perth visiting us and Curtin University for a week of fun science-based activities. It was wonderful hosting the students at our base in Perth after many years of annual visits out to the MRO and visiting them at the school. Read more about the students’ visit in the MWA and Pawsey updates below.

I was also back up in Geraldton last Thursday on 13 October for the public day of the Yamaji On Country meeting, spending time with the Wajarri Yamaji Aboriginal Corporation (WYAC) at their SKA careers booth alongside SKAO and Department of Industry, Innovation and Resources colleagues. It was great to see so much interest from the community in the types of roles that the SKA project may bring to the region, and congratulations to the winners of the Freo and Eagles jerseys from the WYAC competition.

Two aboriginal style artworks featuring an Emu with rainbow dotted clouds behind displayed by three Indigenous Australians.
Judith Anaru, Anthony Dann and Leonie Boddington display two Wajarri artworks that were created for a Wajarri planisphere (seen being held by artist Judith Anaru). Credit: Glenda Jackamarra.

Also last week Chris and Mohamed from our team, joined by Leonie Boddington from CSIRO, were out at the Murchison Settlement on 14 October for the stargazing event and launch of a Wajarri planisphere. This map of the stars features two artworks by Wajarri artist Judith Anaru of the emu in the sky. We’re proud to have supported the creation of this planisphere that shares a small piece of Wajarri culture and astronomy with a wider audience, contact us if you’d like a copy and we’ll point you in the right direction.

If you missed the stargazing event last Friday, coming up is Perth Astrofest on 29 October. If you happen to be down in Perth come past the MRO exhibit to see Judith Anaru’s artworks in person and say hi to the team.

As usual, if you have any station issues or declared animal sightings, get in touch with Andrew Whitmarsh, our landcare facilitator, or reach out to our general email contact.

Have a wonderful Spring and stay safe as the weather starts heating up, until next time,