Wednesday, August 10th, 2011
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?

A free 24-page booklet has been compiled as an introduction to Cockburn’s rich and deep Aboriginal history, based on existing literature and oral history projects.

Aptly-titled Beeliar Boodjar, it was written by Len Collard and Clint Bracknell with assistance from Sandra Harben, after a review of documents by the University of WA’s School of Indigenous Studies.

The City of Cockburn Aboriginal History Steering Committee provided objectives for the project and approved its content while the local Aboriginal Reference Group also gave feedback.

Beeliar are one of the clans of the Whadjuk group of Nyungar – with Beeliar Nyungar literally meaning “river people”.

Long-time resident Cockburn resident Reverend Sealin Garlett said “boodjar” means land to Aboriginal people.

“It really is the sense of identity and sense of belonging,” he said. “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.”

Cockburn Mayor Logan K Howlett said Beeliar Boodjar was a fascinating insight into local Aboriginal history and culture.

“The fact this publication exists is testament to the strength of our council’s connection to the local Aboriginal community and commitment to recognising that aspect of our heritage,” he said.

Beeliar Boodjar is exceedingly well-researched and appealing in its exploration of the local Nyungar people and their links with the land, allowing people to discover plenty of interesting facts they might not have known before.

“As a result, the City of Cockburn is looking to publish more information of this nature in the future.”

Aboriginal people in Cockburn are encouraged to register their interest in future by calling (08) 9411 3487.

The Beeliar Boodjar booklet is available at the City of Cockburn administration building, 9 Coleville Crescent, Spearwood.

It can also be downloaded at by clicking on Community Services on the left, then Aboriginal Services – the booklet is on the right.

The City of Cockburn advises the booklet contains the names of deceased Aboriginal people. It does not wish to cause to distress to anyone who follows specific cultural protocols about such names and it should be noted that relatives were contacted before the names were used in this publication.

Cockburn Mayor Logan K Howlett with Reverend Sealin Garlett, featured in the Beeliar Boodjar booklet.

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City of Cockburn

The City of Cockburn celebrated its 30th birthday in 2009 and is regarded as one of Perth’s fastest growing and culturally-diverse local governments.

With a population of about 85,000, it has grown into one of Perth’s most dynamic and successful areas. The population is made up of a large percentage of children, families and seniors, and a large percentage of people born overseas (28.8%).

As a developing city, Cockburn has a good mix of residential, rural and conservation areas and has more than 2000 businesses. The City of Cockburn, as a council, has a continuing mission to make the area the most attractive place to live, work and visit in the metropolitan area.
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P: (08) 9411 3551


WA Western Australia City of Cockburn indigenous Aboriginal Nyungah Nyoongar Nyungar Bibra Lake Beeliar Boodjar Cockburn Sound quandong trees Logan Howlett mayor



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