Perth is an incredible place to learn about the Noongar people.
Western Australia's Indigenous history has spanned many tens of thousands of years - long before the Pyramids and ancient Babylon, during a time when megafauna roamed the Earth. Think sheep-sized echidnas and Giant Wombats in Australia - in other words, a really long time ago!
Throughout Australia, Indigenous people told and retold stories of history, culture, lore and the Dreamtime, with Noongar people passing down stories of the days before the last Ice Age and the world’s Creation, and more recent tales about navigating the impacts of colonisation and the struggle to have their voices heard.
Perth is an incredible place to learn about the Noongar people, the Traditional Owners of our city and the largest Aboriginal group in Australia. You can also learn much about the diverse and fascinating Indigenous peoples of Western Australia. From a thriving art scene rich in symbolism and authentic experiences of Indigenous culture, to bush tucker and traditional songs, you'll be spoiled for choice for deeply meaningful Indigenous experiences.
Kings Park is renowned for its beautiful native flora and the many types of wildlife that make it their home. It's also a massively important site for the Noongar people. For thousands of years Aboriginal people have been visiting Mooro Katta or Kaarta Gar-up, two of the many names for Mount Eliza, the highest point of Kings Park. You’ll find plenty of great information about the Aboriginal history of Kings Park on the official Kings Park website here, including various Aboriginal Cultural Experiences, with tours led by knowledgeable guides boasting a strong family connection to this country and a deep understanding of their culture and knowledge of the land.
Experience the Indigenous historical and cultural significance of many of Perth's most recognisable places with an Aboriginal-led tour! Some top tour operators include Djurandi Dreaming, offering tours of Rockingham, Perth City and Elizabeth Quay, including their fascinating Art on the Lakes and Sister Kates Rockingham tours. There's also Go Cultural Aboriginal Tours and Experiences, with a variety of tours around Elizabeth Quay, Kings Park, Yagan Square and Rottnest Island. Check out the Wadjemup (Rottnest Island) Premium Experience, including a Noongar Smoking Ceremony! There’s also the fascinating Perth City Cultural Tour by Warrang-Bridil Cultural Tours, and a guided tour of the ancient living Thrombolites & Lake Clifton by Mandjoogoordap Dreaming - Mandurah Tours. You'll see some of your favourite places in a whole new light!
Self-Guided Walking Trails
This City is Whadjuk Country explores Whadjuk Nyoongar history before the arrival of white settlers in 1829, giving participants a feel for the way Whadjuk people lived before white settlement. (You’ll find the tour map here.)
Fighting For Families: Country, Rights and Recognition explores Aboriginal history in Perth after 1829, including important events like the resistance of Whadjuk leaders Midgegooroo and his son Yagan in the 1830s, the Prohibited Area zone in place between 1927-1954, Aboriginal protest rallies of the 1930s and 1940s and the establishment of important Aboriginal organisations. The tour map for Fighting for Families can be found here.
In our fave port city Fremantle, you'll also find the Manjaree Walking Trail in Bathers Bay. Follow a series of interpretive signs starting at the northern edge of the Old Kerosene Store (now Kidogo Arthouse) and throughout the Bathers Beach Precinct, explaining the Nyoongar seasons, bush tucker, trade and other customs relevant to Manjaree. Manjaree is the name that the Whadjuk gave to the area around Fremantle. In the local Whadjuk dialect it translates to 'fair exchange'. Sites along this trail are of historical significance to the Whadjuk people.
Lastly, the Swan Valley Bush Tucker and Beyond Trail is a true feast for the senses! Taste traditional bush tucker, learn about its various properties and the place that these foods played in traditional life. Drop into Maalinup Gallery & Bush Food Providore with its bush tucker garden and amazing range of native flavours, and explore other businesses that have embraced bush food ingredients as part of their everyday offering. Yum! You’ll also visit places rich in Aboriginal legends, and find incredible art - perfect for a souvenir to take home and treasure.
Galleries, Shops and Museums
Maalinup Aboriginal Gallery deserves a mention not just for its bush tucker, but also for beautiful art by indigenous artists, giftware and body and home wares. And in the heart of Perth City, you'll find some great cultural experiences in the Perth Cultural Centre: the newly reopened WA Museum Boola Bardip has a permanent exhibit Ngalang Koort Boodja Wirn (Our heart, Country, spirit) which shares the stories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of Western Australia and their traditional knowledge systems, protocols and ways of communication.
Just a short walk from the Museum, you'll find the Art Gallery of WA, with its ongoing exhibit Balancing Act, showcasing works of art intended to reflect the depth of ATSI art and culture. A bit further afield but well worth the trip, you'll find the Bilya Koort Boodja – Centre for Nyoongar Culture & Environmental Knowledge in Northam. This regional tourist attraction offers an interactive educational experience that recognises the rich Aboriginal and environmental presence in the Noongar Ballardong region, protecting, celebrating and sharing the culture of the Noongar people while highlighting land management practices that draws upon the knowledge of the land’s traditional custodians.
Cultural Performances and Experiences
Smack-dab in the heart of Perth City, you'll find the stunning Yagan Square Nyumbi, with free cultural dance performances running in Yagan Square in the Yagan Square amphitheatre every Friday evening until 16 April. It's a great way to immerse yourself in WA’s Noongar culture, with traditional song and dance and rich stories of culture and history.
Yanchep National Park is another great spot to learn about Indigenous cultures, thanks to the Wangi Mia Meeting Place. This Aboriginal experience is available as a public tour on Sundays and public holidays only, and for private or group bookings at other times. You’ll be enthralled by a wonderful didgeridoo demonstration, and learn the significance of local plants and animals to the Noongar people.
We hope we've whetted your appetite for amazing Aboriginal experiences in Perth and throughout Western Australia! If you’d like to learn more about Aboriginal experiences, head to the WAITOC website for more information.