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History Swan river


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Aboriginal history

Our City has a particularly strong Aboriginal culture – and this is an ongoing connection which we are proud to have within our City.

The local Aboriginal people and custodians of the land are Whadjuk Noongar people.

The Noongar people have long since inhabited the historic lands of the Swan coastal plain, dating back some 40,000 years. The land provided a natural abundance of food and water resources and the traditional owners developed a rich history of customs in the area.


The town of Guildford in the Whadjuk region has always been an important meeting place for Noongar people. The area contains many campsites and spiritual sites which have been used by Noongars to the present day.

Guildford and the surrounding areas of Success Hill and Pyrton sit on important Noongar country where the Swan meets the Helena River. Known as Yellagonga’s country (west of the Swan River) and Weeip’ country (east of the Swan), the Helena River was a moort bidi – a main run for Noongar people going to and from Guildford where coroborrees were performed.

Through accounts of several early settlers in the region, the most well-known is that of the Waugal that tells the story of a snake or crocodile like beast that travelled from the hills to the ocean, thus creating the Derbarl Yerrigan (Swan River). One of its resting spots on this journey was at the bend of the river at Guildford under Success Hill.


Of the local Aboriginal people in the area during settlement, Yagan was the best known and was regarded a leader and daring warrior of his people. After a series of events in 1832 and 1833, Yagan was declared an outlaw and was killed at Upper Swan. The Yagan Memorial Park on West Swan Road in Belhus was officially opened in July 2010.

Find out more about the history of the Aboriginal people at your local City of Swan library branch.


Weeip was the traditional leader of the Boora Clan (Boya Ngura people) who were responsible for the Swan area during the first decade of European settlement.

Weeip is remembered as a very important leader and family man who sought and acted to reduce the severity of the effects of imprisonment and attacks on his people and family.

After the execution of leaders Midgegooroo and Yagan in 1833, Weeip also negotiated a landmark truce with Governor Stirling in 1834 that aimed to improve relations between his clan and the British settlers.

The City of Swan's New Junction precinct is located on land known as a meeting place by the Whadjuk Noongar and other Aboriginal peoples within the community.

In recognition and celebration of its continuing significance to the community and traditional owners of the Midland area, the City of Swan investigated an appropriate Noongar name for its most prominent public open space.

Following consultation with local Elders and their families who have called this land home for tens of thousands of years, in December 2019 the City of Swan Council unanimously decided to name New Junction's major public open space Weeip Park. Read more about the consultation process and significance of the name in Weeip Park Naming.

What is the aboriginal name for the Swan River?
Derbarl Yerrigan

The Swan River is a river in the south west of Western Australia. Its Aboriginal Noongar name is the Derbarl Yerrigan. The river runs through the metropolitan area of Perth, Western Australia's capital and largest city.

What does Whadjuk mean?
Whadjuk is the name of the dialectal group from the Perth area. Whadjuk is situated south of Yued and north of the Pinjarup dialectal groups. ... The approximate size of the Whadjuk region is 5,580 km. Throughout the Whadjuk Region there are a range of significant Noongar sites.

What is the Aboriginal name for Perth?
The Aboriginal name is Mooro or Goomap. There's so much literature out there which describes Perth


What is the Aboriginal word for white man?
Gubbah is a term used by some Aboriginal people to refer to white people. The Macquarie Dictionary has it as "n. ... an Aboriginal term for a white man." Also, "gubba, n.

What are the 6 Aboriginal seasons?
In the southwest of Australia, the Nyoongar seasonal calendar includes six different seasons in a yearly cycle. These are Birak, Bunuru, Djeran, Makuru, Djilba and Kambarang. Each of the six seasons represents and explains the seasonal changes we see annually.

How do you say hello in Noongar Aboriginal language?
Kaya/Palya/Yaama: Kaya means hello in the Noongar language.