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.