Yellagonga Boodja

The Perth Metropolitan area is Whadjuk Nyoongar country. This land was created by the Waugal, or rainbow serpent, who shaped the Derbarl Yerrigan (Swan River), the rich swamps and wetlands of the coastal plain and the ranges to the east. 

Whadjuk Nyoongar people nurtured this land for many thousands of years, sharing knowledge about caring for country from generation to generation. They travelled through this landscape, hunting, gathering plant foods, and fishing. 

In 1829, the area that became the City of Perth, or Boorloo, was in the boodja of Yellagonga, a Whadjuk Nyoongar leader, and his family. Yellagonga’s boodjar took in the land north of Derbarl Yerrigan, from the sea to Ellen Brook and north to Moore River. 

Yellagonga and his family had kinship links across the whole of what is today the Perth metropolitan area – with Weeip’s family to the east, Munday’s family between the Helena and Canning Rivers and with Midgegooroo’s family to the south. 

Byerbrup is the name of the ridge of high ground between Matagarup (the shallow river crossing at Heirisson Island) and Gargatup (King’s Park). Today, Hay Street follows this important Whadjuk Nyoongar pathway and the Town Hall is at a place on the ridge called Kuraree.

An artist’s impression of how Byerbrup and Derbarl Yerrigan would have looked to Whadjuk Nyoongar in the 1820s. The star shows Kuraree, where Miago camped and where the Perth Town Hall was later built. Image courtesy of City of Perth and Edith Cowan University.

Kuraree is a high point with a view over the surrounding country. There once was a spring near here. It was a good place to camp, close to both the rich resources of the Gumap river flats and the wetlands to the north. No doubt jeena middar (corroborees), where different family groups gathered together, were often held in this area when food was plentiful.

Click here to find out more about Whadjuk Nyoongar place names in the Perth area at Gnarla Boodja Mili Mili (Our Country on Paper).

Click here to find out more about the landscape of the Perth area at Reimagining Perth’s Lost Wetlands, an online exhibition of the WA Museum.

The changing landscape of Perth
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