Aboriginal history

The Whadjuk people of the Noongar Nation have been the Traditional Custodians of the land where the City is located for more than 40,000 years.

The Derbal Yerrigan (Swan River) holds enormous cultural significance for the Noongar people. It is a vital connector for plants and animals, bringing life-giving nutrients and strength of spirit. During the Nyitting (Creation Time), the great creator snake called the Waugal or Wagyl moved down the Derbal Yerrigan and created the waterways and landscapes. 

The land provided a natural abundance of food and water resources, and the Traditional Custodians developed a rich history of customs in the Swan area.

In 2024, the City was home to nearly six per cent of all First Nations people in WA, with the highest Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population of any Perth local government.

Guildford in the Whadjuk region has always been an important meeting place for Noongar people, containing many campsites and spiritual sites.

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 River), the Helena River was a moort bidi – a main run for Noongar people going to and from Guildford where corroborees took place.

Of the local Aboriginal people in the area during settlement, Yagan was one of the best known, regarded as a daring warrior and leader of his people.

Yagan was declared an outlaw and killed at Upper Swan in 1833. The Yagan Memorial Park on West Swan Road in Belhus was officially opened in July 2010.

Weeip was the traditional leader of the Boora clan (Boya Ngura people) who were responsible for much of the City of Swan area during early European settlement. Weeip is remembered as a strong leader and a family man who sought to reduce the severity of the persecution of his people and family.

In 1834, Weeip negotiated a landmark truce with Governor James Stirling that aimed to improve relations between his clan and the British settlers.

In 2021, after consultation with local Elders and families, the City of Swan officially opened Weeip Park in Midland. Named in honour of the late Whadjuk Noongar leader, Weeip Park is the centrepiece of the City’s New Junction redevelopment and the most prominent public open space in the Midland CBD. 

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