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Aboriginal History

The City of Canning recognises the Whadjuk people of the Noongar nation as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of the lands in Canning and pays respect to Noongar Elders past, present and emerging. The City recognises the strong and enduring connection the Noongar peoples have to the beautiful Djarlgarro Beelier (Canning River).

 The Djarlgarro Beelier is of vital importance to the Whadjuk people, previously being a source of food, water and resources. It has been a focus of human activity for many thousands of years. At the time of colonisation, two Whadjuk clans lived along the Canning River, the Beeloo and the Beelier. The Whadjuk land south of the Swan River and west of the Canning River to the coast is Beelier land. The land across the Canning River to the Helena River is Beeloo land.

The Canning River provided an abundance of resources as well as food for the Noongar people. The area reportedly had one of the highest densities of Noongar population in Western Australia. The adjoining Canning wetlands were vitally important to Noongar people for their food and shelter. Remains of former camping places provide evidence of habitation along the river. At the edge of the Canning River Regional Park, one site contained hundreds of stone chips, dating back at least 5000 years. It was built over when Ferndale developed in the early 1970s.

At the time of colonial settlement, around six family groupings claimed territorial rights to this area. These included Munday’s family in the Beeloo District and in the Beelier district, the family of Midgegooroo and his son Yagan. The Canning River is the border between these two Whadjuk clans, and provided an easy trail from the coastal plain to the hinterlands.

The Whadjuk history in Canning is as significant today as it was in the past. Aboriginal sacred sites are part of the land, linking cultural tradition to place, people and land over time.

Canning is significant for Aboriginal people in the 20th and 21st centuries. Sister Kate’s Children’s home in Queens Park housed Aboriginal children, including members of the Stolen Generation, and the site continues as an important location for services. 

The Pallotine Mission in Rossmoyne provided for Aboriginal children undertaking secondary education from 1955 until it closed in 1991.

Learn more about Aboriginal history and culture.

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