Jalbarragup counting, and time

Cara runs an online publication, Now and Here, which explores the way that nomadic experiences change us. 

Long before humanity settled to a sedentary agricultural life, we used to move on the land. Long, long before we lived in cities of concrete and steel we walked the earth with our feet and knew the paths of the stars at night. 

In this world we live in, now and here, perhaps we can try to find some small way to revisit the us of old.

(Article was originally published on Now and Here)

“Today I visited this place, Jalbarragup. It lies on the boundary between the Wardandi and Pibbelmen Noongar nations.

One of the purposes of this publication is healing. To explore ways that thinking and living in a nomadic way can bring us healing, can change us. The idea is to explore this through a range of creative modalities.

Just starting out, I find myself struggling greatly with the lack of structure in my posts. I started one with a date, and others with place names. This rails strongly against my natural tendency for order. For this reason, it also feels intoxicatingly like freedom.

This is one of the ways I wish my mind worked differently. I have an over-strong penchant for creating lists, for counting things more than several times, for keeping things like numbers, dates and times in strict order. Doing so creates the illusion of safety from terrible fates.

I choose to describe this in the way it feels and plays out.

Fear of not adhering to this structure made it difficult to start this publication. To start, I needed to somehow bypass this wall. After many fruitless attempts, or rather after never making an attempt at all due to fear, the suggestion by my partner to find a way to ‘play’ somehow bypassed my need for structure. In its absence I find myself writing with a complete and welcome lack of logical structure. This feels like… swimming in a forest rockpool, beside a small waterfall, in the sun so the water is beautiful and warm. Have you ever had the chance to do this? If not, I hope you get to.

Where was I? Counting, healing and time.

Today I visited Jalbarragup.

For the past few years I have been back at university, studying Indigenous Knowledge, History and Heritage. I have studied many things over many years, but this is one of the most important. In a class last semester, my lecturer asked us to think about methods of control that exist in society.

(Counting, checking, counting….)

He named one of the largest and most influential as being time.

At the time, this blew my mind. Imagine how life would be if not governed by the tyrant time? Where does this idea come from, that we must divide our time up into certain societally acceptable allotments, never to deviate therefrom?

In her essay No Fixed Address, Robyn Davidson describes how;

“The Western mind assumes that a linear time progression — marked off along its infinite stretch by remote, recent, present, soon, far-off — is the natural, even innate orientation. It is difficult to imagine a consciousness in which that way of thinking is all but absent, in which history is absorbed into changelessness, and events (temporality) are turned into places.”

I can only start to begin to consider what this might mean; how life would look if lived this way. How it would feel. A life without counting…

Today, I visited Jalbarragup. It lies on the boundary between the Wardandi and Pibbelmen Noongar nations.

I saw the river there. The same river has always been there. It is there now.

One of the purposes, is healing. Counting is one of the ways I wish my mind worked differently.

The Jalba plant grows at Jalbarragup. It grows in clumps. It has a large single leaf, and a green flower.

Before I started this publication, I was worried about…

Today, I visited Jalbarragup.


Doesn’t matter right now. Or at all. It’s today.

While I was there, I saw so many trees. Of so many kinds. And there was the sound of birds. And a man down visiting the river. He had a small dog with him. There is the sound of birds, and of trees. Of so many kinds. And the sky, and the water. All of the sounds, are here.



– Written by Cara Phillips –

Anyone can contribute to Now and Here. You don’t have to be an experienced writer, you don’t even have to write.

Find ways to experience your nomadic self, and take notice. Record your noticings, with a photo, with a pen on a scrap of paper, etched into the dirt with a stick. 

Share your noticings with others in the Now and Here community. This is an online community of people committed to experiencing in a new and old way, together.

To contribute to Now and Here, make an account on medium.com, then send your stories in.

And remember, stories don’t have to include words!

Cara is a MIECAT trained Arts Therapist based in Perth, Western Australia. 

She has worked in theatre and film, specialising in devising shows and films with different groups in the community about things that are of interest them.

Cara has strong values around the intersubjective connection between people.  She lives to dance in this space……….