Aboriginal Heritage Sites

Posted on Jan 22, 2015

Wendy Slee fire making

Making fire using traditional methods (Wendy Slee)

Aboriginal Heritage Sites

For thousands of years Noongar* people have resided on and had cultural connection to the booja – land. Everything in the vast landscape has meaning and purpose and Noongar lore is characterised by a strong spiritual connection to country. Connection to booja is passed on through stories, art, song and dance. For Noongar people, the south-west of Western Australia is ngulla booja – our country. Traditional Noongar rights and interests in boodja (country) are not the same as the Western concept of land ownership. For Noongar people, to have connection to country is to have a responsibility to the land. Duties and responsibilities for country also include protecting sites of spiritual significance and family heritage.



SW Regions

The Gnaala Karla Boodja region refers to the Noongar language or dialectical groups of the Binjareb/Pinjarup, Wilman and Ganeang and encompasses the towns of Capel, Donnybrook, Balingup, Wickepin, Narrogin, Williams, Mundijong, Kwinana, Brookton, Pingelly, Wagin, Harvey, Collie, Pinjarra, Mandurah and Boddington. There are a number of significant sites in Gnaala Karla Booja, including Boyagin Rock (near Brookton) and the Pinjarra Massacre Site. You can also find the caves of mythological beings, ceremonial sites and artefacts. The Barragup mungah – fish weir on the Serpentine River has long been recognised by local Noongar people as amongst the most important traditional meeting places for Noongar from the Swan, Peel and Darling Ranges areas.

The South West Boojarah region refers to the Wardandi and Bibulmun/PiblemenNoongar language or dialectical groups and encompasses the towns of Capel, Margaret River, Witchcliffe, Augusta, Windy Harbour, Northcliffe, Pemberton, Manjimup, Bridgetown and Nannup. There are a number of significant sites in this region which include caves, some of which are the homes of mythological beings, ceremonial sites, rock art, paintings and artefacts. Cultural sites of significance also include the Nannup Caves, Jewel Cave, Devil’s Lair and a Birthing Lake.

The Wagyl Kaip and Southern Noongar region refers to the Noongar dialectical groups, Ganeang, Goreng and Minang from the Great Southern area and includes the towns of Boyup Brook, Bridgetown, Walpole, Denmark, Mt Barker, Cranbrook, Tambellup, Katanning, Nyabing, Jerramungup, Ravensthorpe, Hopetoun, Bremer Bay and Albany. There are many cultural and significant sites in this region, with one site being the Stirling Ranges.

Examples of traditional tools (Image by Wendy Slee).

Examples of traditional tools (Image by Wendy Slee).


All rivers, waterways and artesian groundwater are classified as significant sites, as water is such an important part of Noongar life, customs and spiritual beliefs. Therefore any work that may negatively impact on these sites requires complying with statutory requirements related to the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972.

Scar tree (L Offer, 2014)

Scar tree (L Offer, 2014)

Registered Aboriginal Sites

There are hundreds of Registered Aboriginal sites in the South West which are listed on the Aboriginal Heritage Inquiry System (AHIS) which is an internet based search tool found at the Department of Aboriginal Affairs website at http://www.daa.wa.gov.au/en/Place-Search/

Sites located within the SW NRM Region can be seen on the Regional Priorities map here. 


Boodjar – Nyungar Placenames in the South-West of WA

If you have ever wondered what the names of south west places mean, this website is a great resource.



SWCC works in partnership with various groups and noongar people of the south-west NRM Region. To find out about some of the past projects click on the links below.




Header and thumbnail image by Wendy Slee


* The spelling of the word Nyungar is subject to variation as the language was passed down through generations orally. It may also be spelt Noongar, Nyungah, Nyoongar and Nyoongah.


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