Eugene Bargo is an Australian aboriginal knowledge holder and legend. He is a proud elder of the Goreng Kabi tribe and is known as ‘Barramundi and Black Snake Man’.
I write this article as a middle-aged, white Australian man who has spent his life studying health, nature and the relationship this has to consciousness. One of my greatest learning experiences has been sharing quality time over a 10-year period with Eugene receiving powerful personal learnings in the Australian bush. During this time, he has generously imparted sacred indigenous knowledge from the earth, animals and plants held in mythology and at the same time ingrounded real stories told by a master storyteller.
Eugene is clearly motivated by a strong work ethic and a sense of responsibility to give valuable training to those who are genuinely interested in this land’s original stories. He has a keen, learned mind, healthy sense of personal worth and a great passion; all strongly felt through his magical storytelling. Eugene is able to ‘read’ this wide sunburnt land better than most and is quick to take anyone on a storytelling adventure.
One day he talked to me about being a young boy…
“As a young Aboriginal boy I spent many hours in the company of elders on riverbanks, in rainforests and sitting with the old men who still spoke original Aboriginal tribal language. These elders carried deep and intimate connection to our country, they knew, they knew… and they carried the wisdoms.
“You get to know things by observing. All knowledge was given by the elders. Our maps were our elders and the wisdom they shared.
“The knowledge included deep ancient understanding of the land and the water places from mountains to the mangroves and beyond.
“This knowledge connected us to ‘the natural ways’ of our amazing and awesome Australian wildlife creatures, plants, trees, birds, fish and insects.”
Eugene is a big advocate of ‘learning from our environment’ and as such, has made a focus on formal education and is also a qualified counsellor. He is passionate about keeping up to date with current environmental affairs to continually broaden his knowledge base – as he is keen to ‘pass on’ his passion to all those who are interested.
As an advocate for the Aboriginal history of Australia, Eugene is regularly consulted by government departments, international Aboriginal study project groups and the United Nations. As a genuine historian, Eugene continues to bring valuable updates to local Australian historian projects, one of which is ‘The Local Bush Classroom’.
Eugene emphasises that nothing is better than taking a walk through our native bushlands with someone to guide you through some amazing experiences. “When we walk and talk with people in these beautiful places you hear bush sounds, see breathtaking sights, smell and taste the marriage of earth and plants. This habitat is full of powerful native trees, beautiful flowers, seeds, earth, rocks, fresh and salty waters, airflows and atmospheric signals and frequencies.”
He goes on to explain about the atmospheric signals. “I feel nature’s cues and signals. These signals are very alive and available to my people and all peoples if you can sense them. These natural signs and signals help us make good decisions on what the ‘Earth’ is saying to us as the original people for land conservation and how to look after it.
“The signals help us to hunt and we know to only take what we need, leave enough for the individual species to grow for another time and to keep sustaining itself. In this way we are dedicated to preserving and conserving Australia’s country and wildlife for generations to come.”
Eugene shares with me an example of this…
“Where the freshwater meets the saltwater, we take riverside walking, hunting and fishing journeys to where the mangroves, tea tree and Wallum countries converge.
“We’d see lungfish and big Mary River cod. In the freshwater we get tasty mussels. We’d catch yabbies and crays, blue claws and shrimp. After the big storms in the summer months, the yabbies walk overland, thousands of them, big ones. Waiting for them at the end would be the barra, they love fresh yabbies for lunch. It’s important that they get their feed too. So we might take 20 of those yabbies. That’s all. The barra need to be happy too.
“Where the mangroves start to grow, we’d find milk worms, we’d break up old mangroves to find them (they’re not really a worm, they are more like an oyster in a shell which can be eaten raw). Once we got to the mangroves we get the brown mud oysters – they were a big favourite!
“In the brackish water there’d be stingray and bull sharks. The mullet will be thicker, jumping a lot because of the predators.
“In this brackish water there’d also be mud crab parked in the nooks and crannies fattening themselves up! If they’re real brown or purple colour, they were likely to be full of tasty meat. It’s real good tucker!
“Sometimes back when things were plentiful, we would shake the eggs off a female mud crab and let her go. It would depend on what time of the season and on reading the other signs… Oh man, eat that roe on damper! It’s a real shot of protein! As you get further down the river the crabs are more blue, that’s what you call a floater. It might be a big crab, but it’s just shed its shell… and is empty.
“We read the signs.
“Down the river we’d eat mackeral, and rub saltbush all over the baked fish. We loved the shrimp – caught in wicker baskets. And mullet… knowing when the mullet is skittish, jumping or when the Perch fish come to the top, is knowing the signs the weather is coming, big rains.
“When my bird – the peaceful dove – starts to sing, I hear it, and I know the barra are asleep. But when the peaceful dove starts bowing to his wife, we know to go to the river. We know the barras’ eyes will be looking up, coming out of their winter taupe and starting to roll over.
“We know not to hunt the barra until they roll over. There might be 100 barra in some of the water holes in my father’s country. When they roll over it’s like a strobe light, flash, flash, flash, the sun bounces off them. This is a key sign for me and my father, it is one of my totem creatures… the barramundi. What a sight!”
Hence Eugene Bargo’s Aboriginal name is ‘Barramundi and Black Snake Man’. This iconic traditional man is a national treasure and I want to acknowledge all he does to keep our land abundantly beautiful where it can retain the natural healing qualities and life cycles of its bushlands and waterways.
Eugene offers Aboriginal training through ‘walk and talk’ sharing experiences with many diverse groups of enthusiastic students. Sometimes these walks feature formal Aboriginal knowledge training through bushlands, walkways, school grounds, river places and city spaces.
Our journey together over 10 years has traversed Eugene’s father’s and mother’s traditional country predominately situated in south-east Queensland ranging from the ‘mountains to the mangroves’ covering the district between Brisbane to Proserpine.
Eugene brings his Australian Aboriginal knowledge of nature to life with his authentic storytelling from the deep knowledge held and gained from nearly 70 years of living and ‘walking his talk’.
Eugene is my friend, teacher and legend… and I remain forever a committed student of the wisdom keepers of Australia.
Eugene offers Walking, Talking and Dreaming Country Tours. Also Marc offers Spirited By Nature Glass House Mountain Tours.
Contact Marc Bright at Spirited by Nature via email: email@example.com