The City of Cockburn has a rich history, dating back 40,000 years. The City’s traditional owners are the Beeliar Nyungar people, who have strong historical ties to Cockburn's natural areas. European settlers arrived in Cockburn in 1829. It wasn’t until the 1890s that the City began to rapidly develop. Cockburn has evolved into a fast growing local government area.
The City’s traditional owners are the Beeliar Nyungar people. Beeliar Nyungar means river people and they are one of the clans of the Whadjuk, the Aboriginal people of the Perth metropolitan area.
Boodjar means land and provides the life, sense of identity and belonging for the Beeliar Nyungar. Their spirit will always be linked to Cockburn land.
Nyungar creation stories tell us that the City’s chains of wetlands are symbolised by a rainbow serpent, the Waakal. The serpent twists its way from Fremantle to Mandurah. The Waakal creates the shape of the Boodjar, over, under and through the earth and gives foundation to the meaning of life in Cockburn.
Traditionally, the Beeliar Nyungar lived alongside the City’s chains of wetlands. There are sixteen identified Aboriginal campsites in Cockburn, mostly along the banks of North and Bibra Lakes. The Beeliar Nyungar created many well-worn trails to and from these lakes. These trails formed the main transport route between the Murray and Swan River Nyungar Groups and the area was an important place of trade activity for Aboriginal people.
Places in Cockburn, such as Coogee, are special to the Beeliar Nyungar as well as to Aboriginal people from other parts of Australia. Cockburn’s supply of natural resources including fresh water, vegetation and wildlife meant that the Beeliar Nyungar could sustain their way of life for thousands of years.