The Whadjuk land of the Noongar nation is one our team and clients in Western Australia are familiar with. It covers major cities in the state including Perth, Fremantle, Joondalup, Armadale, Toodyay, Wundowie, Bullsbrook and Chidlow.
It is known for its serene beaches and coastal landscapes and is the home of the famous quokkas and black cockatoos.
The Noongar people have a strong connection to the Swan coastal plain and have inhabited this land for over 40,000 years.
In particular, the Swan River which is traditionally known as Beeliar, is believed to have stemmed from the dreamtime story. It suggests a spirit in the form of a giant snake (Wagual) travelled through creeks, waterholes, lakes and valleys on its journey to the ocean – and from that came the Swan River.
This river not only represents a resting place for the Wagual eggs, but historically offered easy access to prolific marine life which made for sources of food and water. A traditional lifestyle practice saw men crushing shellfish into a pulp which was sprinkled into water to attract fish.
The Swan River was also a common meeting place between different tribal groups who came together to barter their natural goods. Although only a few resources were acquired through cross-regional trades, the connection to this land was fundamental to their economic survival.
Due to the grounding beliefs places like these give expression to, it continues to be of great significance to their contemporary social and spiritual connection to their land. Thus, the condition of this river directly relates to the wellbeing of the Wagual and is intertwined to the preservation of the Noongar cultural identity. Widespread clearing for urban, agricultural and industrial development, dredging and drainage have altered natural systems and led to habitat loss.
Initiatives that have been developed to prevent irreversible damage to this site and surrounding areas include the Swan River Protection Strategy
which incorporates coordinated management arrangements to protect and enhance the ecological and community benefits.
To help #HealCountry on a personal level, you can also volunteer or find out more information on the groups below:
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