Water Behaviours

Cultural perceptions of water and why it behaves as it does

Water Behaviours

Cultural perceptions of water and why it behaves as it does

Capacity to Deliver -


The issue

Western environmentalism and conservation are deeply entangled with histories of colonialism. This entanglement has marginalised Indigenous and migrant perspectives on the environment to protect settler norms and interests.

When deciphering language meaning and language use, a theme of 'same but different,' arises. This becomes apparent when discussing a 'cultural' view of water, or technical aspects, including chemistry and physics. In an attempt to give people with less than yr12 science a better understanding, a story was developed utilising a boomerang, an icon from Aboriginal community traditions, as an illustrating tool for water chemistry.

The challenge was telling a story encompassing both Western scientific views and traditional Aboriginal views on water.

The solution

Cup and Saucer Creek within the Cooks River Catchment was chosen as a space to deliver telling a story about the behaviours of water.

Draw a boomerang and put two dots, one each at the end of its wings and then draw six concentric circles at the apex. The outline is our language groups, and the concentric circles represent clans and family groups, whilst the two individual dots represent individuals within families.  Mother and father, parent and child, siblings or cousins. The relationships between individual and collectives is fluid, as is the relationships between an individual and themselves. As water is fluid, and its molecule is shaped like a boomerang. Here, the circles at the boomerang’s apex represent Oxygen, and the two dots Hydrogen atoms. Hence waters fluidity.

The impact

What we achieved amongst a small collective was an appreciation of the same but different paradoxes that exist between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, Science and non-science, through the medium of story, starting with a drawing - the Boomerang.  


Water run-off often collects over watersheds flowing into rivers.

The water cycle (hydrologic cycle) refers to the continuous exchange of water within the hydrosphere, between the atmosphere, soil water, surface water, groundwater, and plants.

  • The Cooks River, is a semi-mature tide dominated drowned valley estuary.
  • 23 kilometres long - urban waterway that has been altered to accommodate various developments along its shore.
  • It serves as part of a stormwater system for the 100 square kilometres of its watershed.



Key facts

  • The importance of consensus when understanding the meaning of a world and how it applies when being used to discuss technical and scientific information.
  • Water makes up 60-75% of human body weight.
  • Losing 4% leads to dehydration and a 15% loss can be fatal.
  • We can survive 4 weeks without food, but only 3 days without water