Kiya Wanjoo Whadjuk Nyoongar Boodjar.
Hello and welcome to Whadjuk Nyoongar country. Nidja Whadjuk Nyoongar Boodjar Noonook Nyininy. This is Whadjuk Nyoongar country you are sitting in. Clontarf Aboriginal College is situated in Whadjuk Nyoongar Boodjar.
Nyoongar* is the general name for Aboriginal people in the south-west of Western Australia. Of the fourteen Nyoongar language groups, the people who live in the Perth region are known as the Whadjuk people.
The Whadjuk land south of the Swan River and west of the Canning River to the coast is known as Bilya (Beeliar). The land across the Canning River to the Helena River is Beeloo land. The Canning River is the border between these two great Whadjuk clans.
It is here at the Canning River that the Youran (bobtail lizard) meets the Nyingarn (echidna). The Youran is the totem animal for the Bilya people; and the Nyingarn is the totem animal for the Beeloo people.
This area once had an abundance of wildfowl, especially Moornyi Koolyak (black swans) and ducks – traditional Nyoongar food. It was an important camping ground where Whadjuk people foraged, fished and hunted. It was here that they gathered to camp under their Mia Mias (shelters).
After their arrival in 1829, Wadjela (white) colonists quickly took over the Whadjuk Nyoongar Boodjar and used it for farming.
The Whadjuk people fought a losing battle against this loss of their land. In this early conflict, the Whadjuk people were led by Midgegooroo and his famous son Yagan.
This was a sad story of dispossession which finally left the Whadjuk people without the land on which they depended so much – spiritually as well as materially.
The Whadjup Nyoongar Boodjar (Clontarf) site remains of important spiritual and cultural significance for contemporary Whadjuk people.
Clontarf Aboriginal College has taken the Moornyi Koolyak – the black swan rising in flight – as the central image in its crest.
This powerful image is a direct link back to the traditional Whadjuk Nyoongar Boodjar on which the College now stands.
*Nyoongar can also be written as Nyungar or Noongar. Nyoongar is the spelling adopted by the Board for the 2005-2008 Strategic Plan.
(The support of Robyn Collard, Glen Stasiuk and Barry McGuire for this statement is acknowledged and appreciated.)