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Collating Aboriginal history of this area 



Place name                             Aboriginal Place       Name Meaning

Claise Brook                            Mandalup                 place of the small marsupial
Gloucester Park                      Yoondoorup              place of a black stumpy tail lizard
Brook adjacent to                   Goongoongup
Gloucester Park
Swan River around                 Warndoolier
Burswood Island area
Maylands Peninsula                Wu‐rut                         (known as to Munday’s people)
Bardon Park at Maylands
also known as ...                     Malgamongup             on the shoulder, the place of the
spearwood camp on the hill
Swan River around                 Warndoolier                 (known as to Nyoongars)
Burswood Island

Vocabulary                             Aboriginal word            Definition

                                                Yoorn                             lizard
                                                Ngatta                             more
                                                Derba                             estuary

Claise Brook campsite was tucked into the recess of the Swan River and has been used by many
Nyoongar families since colonisation as a camping ground. The area is known as Mandalup or the
‘place of the small marsupial’. It is near the present day Gloucester Park which is also known as
Yoondoorup or ‘place of a black stumpy tail lizard’. The brook adjacent Yoondoorup is known as
Goongoongup. The Swan River around Burswood Island area is known to Nyoongars as Warndoolier.

Burswood Island was used by Nyoongars up to the 1920’s and possibly later. Apparently many
shacks were built all over the island, housing both local Nyoongars and others from as far north as
Moora who would spend some time at this site.

According to Lyon (in O’Conner et al, 1986) Maylands Peninsula was known to Munday’s people as
Wu‐rut. Two Nyoongar archaeological sites have been recorded and these consist of stone artefacts
on Maylands Peninsula. Bardon Park at Maylands is known to have been a Nyoongar camping
ground last century due to its sheltered position. Nyoongars call this place Malgamongup which
means ‘on the shoulder, the place of the spearwood camp on the hill’. O’Connor et al (1989) record
that between 1930’s and 1960’s up to 30 Nyoongar camped here at a time.

Mundays people association ‐ camping site


Follow Illa Kuri around the edge of the River into the Cove to find the Niche Wall Mural, narrative panels tracing the evolution of the area from it's origins as a Bibbulmun nation to the arrival of the Europeans and industrialisation. 


photos in gps position along the route 

Head up the stairs past the Mural to find the Charnock Woman Mosaic up on the "Lookout" section. A plaque on the wall explains the Bibbulmun Dreaming Story represented in the mosaic. 

Look closely at the gaps in the low wall as these show where the sun rises on significant days of the year including Australia Day, summer and winter solstices and Foundation Day. 

This is also a popular spot for families to enjoy sliding down the hill facing the river on cardboard boxes or just by rolling down. Great fun

Illa Kuri
Artist: Toogarr Morrison

The whole area along the riverbank at Victoria Gardens has been renamed Ngango Batta’s Mooditcher, translated as ‘Sunshine’s Living Strength’ – a place of hope and friendship for Aboriginal people. The winding pathway is named Illa Kuri and describes the chain of lakes and wetlands that stretched across the landscape before the city was built.

Illakuri Sacred Dreaming Pathway, on the riverside

The four Totem Granites seen below represent the special groupings of the Bibbulmun nation which is devided into two main sacred totemic entities; Manitch and Wordung. 

The Manitch are the totem people of the sacred white cockatoo and the Wordung are the totem people of the sacred crow. Each is bound by the marriage laws, universal to the Bibbulmun nation. The law divided the two main totemic groups into four secondary totemic skin groups named; Tondarriik, Ballarruuk, Didarriik and Naagarruuk. Marriage can only take place between people of the opposite totem.

Sacred Ceremonial Stone Circle

Yoondoorup Boorna
Artist: Alma Toomath

A very special old river gum, removed as part of the redevelopment, was treated and returned to the site at the request of the Noongar people. Its burnt and split trunk was used as a hiding place for goods and messages by those who once
camped here.

The Niche Wall Mural
Artist: Joanna Lefroy Capelle

A stunning 14-metre-long wall mural is an allegory for the history and development of East Perth. It interprets the evolution of East Perth from its origins in the
Bibbulmun nation, to settlement with the arrival of the Europeans, its industrial and horticultural growth, a phase of dormancy, and its renewal as a place of community and harmony of the human spirit. The relief mural is located in a limestone colonnade alongside the Cove. Acrylic and natural resins were applied to carved, wet cement render to create the work. Vegetation from the area was used to form its distinctive texture.

Charnock Woman Mosaic
Artists: Jenny Dawson, Sandra Hill and Miv Egan

The East Perth foreshore was a meeting and camping place for the Noongar people.
This colourful ceramic mosaic tells the Noongar Dreaming Story of a giant evilspirit woman, known as the Charnock woman, who stole children. The story can
be read on the accompanying wall plaque.

Dreaming Story


Long before the Nyitting (cold limes) there lived a giant Charrnock (evil spirit) woman named Woor-Jall-Luk who went from Kallep to Kallep (camp fires)

stealing Koolunguhs (children). She had very long white hair and was taller than the Karri and Jarrah trees. She stole children to feed her 'man',

Mulchin-Jal-Lak. (His cave is now known as Bates Cave). She used her hair as a net to place the spirit children, leaving her hands free to gather more.

The spirit people of the south west of Western Australia were worried their children were -disappearing. One night they set a trap to observe what was stealing the children. They tried to stop the evil woman but they could not get close enough to kill her.

One day the spirit people turned themselves into a totem of the magpie (Coolbardies). They knew that the only way to get close to her was by flying at her in a flock and that this way they had a better chance of freeing the Koolunguhs. But on seeing them attack, Woor-Jall-Luk grabbed a big fire stick to beat the Coolbardies. But it did not stop the Coolbardies from swooping to free the children and a great fight followed all over the Bibbullmun nation.

The spirit children who fell to the ground and turned to stone are called Bwia-Ee-Koolungah-Nyinna (the stone where the little babies fell). As Woor-Jall-Luk was hurled into the sky by jumping on Gnadie-Darange-E-Noo (Wave Rock) and made our Bibbee-Goor-Ee (Milky Way) a great many children fell out of her hair and fell back to mother earth. They made the first Bwia-Ee-Koolungah's-Nyinna place which we know as Hippo's Yawn.

The five stars, (Hyades Star Cluster) represents her Kallep, they are like an upside down 'V' and located halfway between the three Women Elders (Orions Belt) and the Pleiades Star Cluster (Seven Sisters). The star Aldebaran on the bottom right side of Hyades Group is her camp fire and it is always burning brightly.

The task complete, the spirit people were as one with their indigenous totems and profound phenomenon. then took place. Mother Earth at Moojabing (where the sacred rock was placed) produced the first people (of flesh) in the

Bibbullmun nation. This sacred area of the people, Nyoongah-(Man) Yorga-(Women) Koolungah, is called Kartakoort. They inherited the land and were told th&laws laid down by the spirit ancestors of the Dreamtime.

The magpie totems today still swoop on little children to let them know that the giant Charrnock woman is still up there looking and planning around her fire.




This story begins here, in the south west of Western Australia. It begins at a time when the Earth was flat and featureless. There was nothing on it at all. There was almost total darkness.

There was this huge spirit serpent, it had been lying there half-asleep and at the same time very much aware of what was going on. The serpent said, “when I become real I’ll have no hands and no feet, how can I possibly look after anything.” Then as all the other spirits watched, this great serpent materialised in front of them. The heavy sky was crushing the great serpent onto the ground, and as they watched they saw the great serpent use all its muscles together and with all its strength, and energy it lifted the sky, and in total defiance move across the land creating a smooth trail beckoning all the others to follow.

This serpent is known as Wogarl. Yes, Wogarl was the first to become real, the first to perform heroic deeds by creating the trails and the hills it was the first leader. At times this great serpent went under the ground and came up again forming the area where there would be lakes (Noel Nannup 2014).

It is through the lake system. There is a water serpent down there below which is extremely important and the water on the surface is really the marks where the waugle wound his way through and came up after making the streams and the water ways. It’s all part of the ecological system to purify the land and the family. Once it was surrounded by waterways and if they fill them up with rubbish then the land begins to die (Cedric Jacobs cited in Laurie 2003). Show image caption

Show image caption

Camp at Lake Monger, 1923.
Image copyright State Library of Western Australia. 54500P.

During the Nyoongar seasons of Kambarang (spring) and Birak (summer), Noongar people camped at the wetlands as part of their seasonal migration to and from the coast.

The wetlands were places of abundance to Nyoongars who lived off the water birds, frogs, gilgies (freshwater crayfish), turtles and plant foods so prevalent in the swamps (Hallam 1975).

In the 1830s when the explorer George Grey came across wetlands north of Perth he describes seeing:

Swamps producing yun-jid, a species of typha, served by well established paths and supporting abundant populations in clusters of well built, clay plastered and turf roofed huts…these superior huts, well marked roads, deeply sunk wells and extensive warran grounds all spoke of a large and comparatively speaking settled resident population (Grey 1841).

In 1850, The Perth Gazette reported a gathering of some 300 Aboriginal people at Lake Henderson on the edge of the town:

On Friday evening a grand corroboree was held at Anderson’s Lake [sic], at the back of the town, by upwards of 300 natives, belonging to the tribes inhabiting the country for a circuit of 200 miles from Perth

“Corroboree”, Inquirer, 23 January 1850

As Nyoongars were marginalised and moved out of their country by the colonists, lakes and swamps became important campsites, where many families lived on the fringes of white settlement, supplementing their diet with wild foods so abundant in the swamps. A swamp known to the colonists as “Third Swamp” was a deep wetland surrounded by dense ti-tree thickets and was apparently a favourite Nyoongar hunting ground. This swamp became a duck shooting area for the colonists and was reserved in 1873 as a public park. Renamed “Hyde Park”, it underwent an extreme makeover into walled lakes with lawns and European trees that provided little habitat for birds and reptiles. Show image caption

Fanny Balbuk


The draining and filling in of swamps caused great concern amongst Nyoongar people. A Nyoongar woman named Fanny Balbuk protested the occupation of her traditional home ground by settlers. Balbuk was born in 1840 on Heirisson Island (Matagarup) in the Swan River, near the present day Causeway. From there, a straight track led to a swamp where once she had gathered gilgies (freshwater crayfish) and vegetable food. Known to the newcomers as Lake Kingsford, the swamp was later drained to make way for the Perth Railway Station. 

Daisy Bates describes how Fanny Balbuk would break through and climb over fences, continuing to walk her traditional bidi (track) to gather bush foods at Lake Kingsford. When a house was built in her way, she broke its fence palings with her wanna (digging stick) and forced her way through the rooms. She was often arrested. She would “stand at the gates of Government House, cursing everyone within, because the stone gates guarded by a sentry enclosed her grandmother’s burial ground” (Bates 1938).Show image caption

The island near Burswood was Yoonderup. It is thought that this was Balbuk's mother's birthplace. Matagarup—literally "leg deep"—was the old native fording place where the Causeway now stands. Joorolup was the other side of Matagarup—going towards Minderup (South Perth).

The rushes below the late George Shenton's house in South Perth were called Goorgugu— a sound very closely resembling the English word "gurgling," applied to the sound of the water among reeds and rushes.

Glendalough succeeded the old Bibbulmun name Goobabbilup. There was a red ochre pit in this vicinity which her father had given to Balbuk, and she claimed payment for any wilgi (ochre) taken from her Wilgigarup.

Both grandmothers of Fanny Balbuk have their grave sites in Perth. One lies buried beneath Bishop's Grove, the residence of Perth's first Archbishop; the other lies beneath Government House (Bates 1929).Show image caption


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Indigenous history and culture of the area surrounding Claisebrook cove

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