STORIES OF OUR RIVERS
ABORIGINAL culture is characterised by a strong spiritual connection to country, as evidenced by the Noongar legend surrounding the creation of the Point Walter sandbar.
Whadjuk Elder Marie Taylor said the sandbar was known as Dyoondalup, or “place of long flowing white hair”.
“Whadjuk people believe that there is a lady who lives in the Milky Way and used to come down to Point Walter to steal children,” Ms Taylor said.
“One day, the little kids that she had stolen were pulling so hard on her hair it dropped down out of the Milky Way to Point Walter and formed the sandbar.”
A wealth of similar cultural and natural history is now available along the City of Melville’s waterways following the opening of three new interpretation facilities, collectively known as River Journeys, last week.
The sites at Point Walter, Bicton Baths and Heathcote include wooden decking and signs highlighting the significant cultural heritage and natural values of the areas.
Two new virtual trail guides have also been launched, enabling smartphone users to enjoy guided audio tours along the Swan River from Fremantle Traffic Bridge to Canning Bridge, and also through Blackwall Reach Reserve.
Ms Taylor was one of four Whadjuk Elders who worked with the Department of Parks and Wildlife to develop both the interpretation facilities and the audio tours.
She said the waterways of the Swan and Canning rivers were special places for all Noongar people and she was happy their history was now available to all visitors.
Melville Mayor Russell Aubrey said he hoped River Journeys would help build respect and appreciation for the land.
The three interpretation facilities and audio guide were funded by the State Government and cost a combined $270,000.
A fourth facility is scheduled to open on the Brentwood foreshore in June.
They are the first in a network of facilities the Department of Parks and Wildlife hopes will one day line a 175km walkable trail around Perth’s waterways.
Environment Minister Albert Jacob said the facilities would bring the rich history of the Swan and Canning rivers to life and reflect their social, economic and environmental significance.
“With River Journeys, anyone coming down to the river can enjoy the Melville foreshore’s past and present in a contemporary way,” he said.
“As well as enjoying the magnificent view, visitors will gain an understanding of the Aboriginal history of the area and other historical events.”