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Indigenous History

Indigenous History

Did you know the Nyungar name for the City of Cockburn is Beeliar Boodjar? Or that Bibra Lake is called Walliabup in the Nyungar language?

Beeliar are one of the clans of the Whadjuk group of Nyungar – with Beeliar Nyungar literally meaning River people.
Long-time Cockburn resident Reverend Sealin Garlett said,

Boodjar means land to Aboriginal people.

It really is the sense of identity and sense of belonging.

This is Demangarmarn, my grandmother and grandfather’s land; this is their land where their spirits move now.

Boorda, or later on, this is going to be the responsibility of my children and my children’s children; their home and this place will always be linked to their spirit.”

More than 80 sign-posted suburbs, streets and landmarks across the City of Cockburn have Nyungar names.

Some examples of Nyungar names for places across the City include:

  • Yangebup (Yangebup Lake): place of the bullrushes.
  • Kogolup (Kogolup Lake): place of the quokka.
  • Jilbup (Thompson Lake): place of grass.
  • Toodjabubup (Banganup Lake): place of mist.
  • Derbal Nara (Cockburn Sound): estuary of salmon.

Dr Joan Winch has lived in the Cockburn and Fremantle areas since 1942 and noted:

“Bibra Lake was the one that we used to go to. And there was so much water in those days because the kids used to swim there… and of course there was a lot of brumbies, wild horses you’d come across.

Another place we used to go out to… we used to ride our bikes with dad down to Robb’s Jetty and go fishing.

I think there were quandong trees out along that way.”

Check out some of the Indigenous Oral Histories available in the:

Beeliar Boodjar Booklet

The Beeliar Boodjar Booklet has been compiled as an introduction to Cockburn’s rich Aboriginal history, based on existing literature and oral history.

They Served With Honour

On the eve of Anzac Day the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs launched the book They Served with Honour: Untold Stories of Western Australian Aboriginal Servicemen at Gallipoli. Written and published by the WA Department of Aboriginal Affairs. The book tells the unknown...

Indigenous Bravery Awards in WWI

Over the last decade, there has been a growing interest in Australia about the contribution made by Aboriginal men and women in World War I (1914-1918), but still little is known about the many acts of courage and gallantry by Aboriginal men and women in the First...

Derbal Nara Website

On 27 May 2014, Curtin University Sustainability Policy Institute (CUSP) launched the Nyungar Wardan Katitjin Bidi - Derbal Nara Website. The aim of the website is to: Present Aboriginal values and knowledge about living on the coast, or Wardan Gepa Boodjaralup, to...

Deadly Vibe

Although the Deadly Vibe website is not specifically aimed at providing information about the Cockburn Region, nor does it provide historical information, it could be considered to be showcasing history in the making and is an excellent resource for Indigenous news &...

Storylines Project

The Storylines Project is a State Library of Western Australia initiative to explore with the community the last 125 years of Aboriginal history through their heritage collections. The project team is working with community members and individuals to identify many of...

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