Yun-Gun (Dugong): As told by Aunty Margaret

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Dugongs are featured in the Endangered Species exhibition at Queensland Museum South Bank.

Transcript

I’m Aunty Marg. I lived at the Myora Mission and grew up there until it was closed in 1941.
My Aboriginal culture is vast, and I have had the opportunity of knowing two old Grannies, Dungoo and Alison, whose knowledge was passed down to me. I am grateful to these two old ladies, who have taught me so much about the animals, sea creatures and plants.

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The Dugong is called Yun-Gun, which means Sea Cow, being an animal of the sea.

The flesh is not fishy, it has a beefy taste. The Dugong grows to about 2 tonnes in weight.

The Dugong was always caught in a net and once it hits the net, it rolls and drowns itself. When caught, it is taken well up the beach, to a nice grassy place, away from people. Women and children are not allowed to see it cut up. This is Aboriginal Lore.
The flesh is cut up and brought back to the people, along with the blubber, which is boiled down into oil. Usually about 16 gallons of oil would come from a large animal.

The oil has medicinal purposes and if drunk every day, it’s very rich in Omega 3, which is very good for the heart. It was also used for rubbing the chest and for colds and aches and pains on their limbs.

Today, it is not sought after for food, but if caught in a fisherman’s net, it is given to the Community for meat and families boil the flesh down for the oil.

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