Connect with country: 4 Aboriginal experiences in WA Parks
This year we’re all spending more time in Western Australia. And, each time we wander out yonder we have more chances to delve deeper into the places we visit. This is our chance to open our minds to all the unique wonders our state has to offer.
Great knowledge comes from experience. And, Aboriginal People have lived in harmony with the land for more than 50,000 years. The Traditional Landowners are part of the oldest living culture in the world and the best teachers for your next holiday history lesson.
Let’s talk about our natural world
Noongar is the official language of the Aboriginal people of the south-west of Western Australia. And, the Noongar language consists of 14 different dialects. We’ve shared some words from the Noongar Boodjar Region below. See if you can remember some of these words* (and spot their namesakes) while you’re out and about in WA Parks.
- Boodja: Country
- Boorn: Stick, tree, log, wood
- Dangalang: Golden Waitsia (Everlastings)
- Darmoorluk: Twenty-eight (green parrot) (bird)
- Derbarl Yerrigan: Swan River
- Djiti Djiti: Willy wagtail
- Gil-git: Fish
- Koorlbardi: Magpie (bird)
- Kwilana: Dolphin
- Mootjool: Yellow everlasting flower
- Yonga: Kangaroo
- Yoorn: Goanna (bobtail)
Now you’ve got a few words under your belt, we’ve got four fantastic Aboriginal cultural experiences for you to enjoy.
Wangi Mia, Yanchep National Park
Yanchep National Park is one of the best places to spot Aussie wildlife. On any given day you’ll spy Koalas in the Koala Enclosure, Western Grey Kangaroos and bright birds that feast on flowering natives. And, if you visit at the right time of year, you’ll see fields of wildflowers too. But flora and fauna spotting is only the beginning of your adventure.
Book the ‘Aboriginal Experience’ at Wangi Mia Meeting Place to learn about the significance of the plants and animals you’ve seen and learn about the culture of the Noongar people of Western Australia’s southwest. Discover how the six seasons influenced life, how knowledge was shared for thousands of years, and so much more.
If you’re visiting Yanchep National Park, make sure you book the ‘Aboriginal Experience’ at Wangi Mia Meeting Place.
Yamatji Drive Trail, Geraldton
The 195km Yamatji Drive Trail takes you to 14 sites of significance to the local Aboriginal people living in the Geraldton, Greenough and Mullewa areas. You’ll see important historical sites for fishing and food collection, modern sculpture, and beautiful bushland walks. Our favourite stop is the magnificent cliff face that looks over tranquil Ellendale Pool.
There are campsites as different points and accommodation in Geraldton. This allows you to complete the trail over 1-2 days or all in one go. Happy driving!
Boodja Gnarning Walk, Kings Park
The Boodja Gnarning Walk in beautiful Kings Park is a self-led experience for budding botanists and culture-lovers alike. As you stroll, you’ll learn about the diverse flora and landscapes in Kings Park and how they were used for survival. Interpretive signage panels guide your way and they provide information and art from Noongar people. You’ll have the choice to take the Maarm Track and Yorga Track. We suggest doing both! You’ll get insights into traditional tools, food, shelter, and hunting practices.
If you would prefer a tour, you can book a cultural experience run by local Noongar people. Each guide has a strong family connection to this country, a deep understanding of their culture, and knowledge of the land.
Binjarreb, Dwellingup Forest Centre
Dwellingup is an adventurer lover’s paradise that’s set in a towering Jarrah forest. To truly experience this beautiful pocket of WA visit the Forest Discovery Centre for a Cultural Emersion tour.
Led by a Binjarreb elder, it begins with a welcome to country and smoking ceremony. After that you’ll spend 2.5 hours exploring traditional culture and skills. You’ll be taken on an immersive journey through the surrounding Jarrah forest. As you ignite your six senses, you’ll learn how a calendar of six seasons influenced life and survival. Plus, you’ll get to hear about totems and join a yarning session around a fire while watching fire lighting and glue making demonstrations. There’s damper, tea and kangaroo to tickle your taste buds at the end.
Aboriginal bush medicine
Did you know that Australian native bush plants have healing properties? Bush Medicine has been used by Aboriginal People for thousands of years. The native plants and trees that grow all around us have medicinal uses and these have been passed on from generation to generation.
Aboriginal Elder, Vivienne Hansen explains, “Bush medicine is more than just a dose, it’s holistic you smell the bush, physically touch the bush, meditation and having the breeze caress your face and listening to the birds and the holistic approach to being out in the bush is so good for your health and wellbeing. Taking your shoes off and standing on the ground, standing on country”.
We’d love to see pictures from your adventures in WA Parks, tag us on Facebook or Instagram @OurWAParks. In the meantime, sign up to our newsletter to be the first to know about new adventures and news from WA Parks.
*The Noongar words listed have come from the Noongar Dictionary, which is owned by the Southwest Aboriginal Land and Sea Council.