Aboriginal Cultural and Visitors Centre

Project Status

In progress

Project Type

Infrastructure & Buildings


Start: Mid 2018 Finish: Late 2023



The Aboriginal Cultural and Visitors Centre will be located near the corner of Gwilliam Drive and Progress Drive, Bibra Lake. Its design is inspired by the area’s native Southwestern snake-necked turtle, making it a unique attraction in metropolitan Perth.

In 2021-22 detailed designs for the new centre will be developed in ongoing consultation with the Aboriginal community. Construction is anticipated to commence in mid 2022, dependent on the City receiving partial grant funding from various sources. The project is due for completion in mid to late 2023.

What will I see at the Aboriginal Visitors and Cultural Centre?  

The Aboriginal Visitors and Cultural Centre is proposed to be a place of recognition and learning about Nyungar culture, language, music, art and dance. Activities and spaces may include:

  • A culturally safe and secure meeting place for Aboriginal people
    • to facilitate connection with language, culture and identity
    • for community reconciliation events and programs
  • Provide a 'keeping place' for recovering, conserving, documenting and presenting elements of unique Nyungar culture
  • Art gallery and exhibition space
    • artist in residence creative space and space for sale of locally sourced Aboriginal art and craft
  • Visitors Information Centre, retail shop and cafe.
Workshops, training, events
  • ‚ÄčAboriginal educational programs that fit the school curriculum
  • Art, music and dance performances and workshops
  • Aboriginal Cultural Awareness training
  • Nyungar Language classes and cooking classes
  • Bush story cultural trails – guided cultural tours including bush tucker / bush medicine walks
  • Tool making, food gathering and spear or boomerang throwing workshops.


The City has been working on ways to strengthen relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This includes the adoption of the City of Cockburn Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) opens in a new window. The RAP identifies the development of an Aboriginal Cultural and Visitors Centre as a key priority for the City. It couples the need for a visitors centre to service the area, with a way to connect to Aboriginal culture.

A feasibility study was undertaken in 2012 and made recommendations regarding the preferred operational and management model, location, capital works cost of the facility and operational budget of the facility.
In 2019 a concept design was undertaken, based on consultation with the Aboriginal community, which identified key design themes including the turtle shaped building, integration with nature and use of organic forms. Input was also sought from the wider community. The concept design has received planning and environmental approvals.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why this location?

Consultation with the Aboriginal community identified that is was important that the centre be directly located in natural bushland so the centre and the outdoor spaces are connected in a culturally appropriate way to the bush.

This location is culturally appropriate, accessible via public transport, has high visitor numbers, and is located near the Bibra Lake Regional Playground. It backs onto high grade bushland suitable for cultural tours and activities.

Why not locate it near the Wetlands Centre in Hope Road?

After consultation with the Aboriginal community, the eastern side of the lake was considered to be culturally unsuitable. The Wetland Education area is considered to be a place of cultural significance for Aboriginal women and children, but not for Aboriginal men to have an ongoing presence there.

What did the feasibility study find?

The feasibility study found that a co-located Aboriginal Cultural and Visitors Centre is feasible if it is subsidised and managed by the City of Cockburn.

How much will it cost?

It is estimated that the capital works cost will be $11 million. The City has been awarded a $1.5M grant from Lotterywest and will also apply for other grant funding.

What consultation has taken place so far?

Extensive consultation was undertaken with the local Aboriginal community, City of Cockburn Aboriginal Reference Group and members of the Whadjuk Working Party to determine the key design themes for the centre. These included the turtle shaped building, integration with nature and use of organic forms.
Key community groups such as the Wetlands Education Precinct Group, residents groups, environmental groups and surrounding businesses and schools were also contacted and offered an interview by the consultants and the City of Cockburn. Two public meetings and an online survey about the concept design were also advertised and conducted as part of the design process. Extensive community consultation was undertaken with the local Aboriginal community, Aboriginal Reference Group and Wetlands Education Precinct group. Key stakeholders, Elected Members, and key staff were also contacted and offered an interview by the consultants. Two public meetings and an online survey were also advertised and conducted as part of the process. 

What is the estimated amount of land needed for the Centre?

The estimated total floor size of the building is 1,259 sqm plus parking and outdoor landscaped spaces (which equates to 6,500 sqm). Inside the centre space will be required for a static and interactive museum display, cultural awareness training, educational and general activities, a caf√© and visitors centre.  Spaces will be available for use or hire for a range of cultural and other visitors activities.

What has been done to minimise the clearing of native vegetation?
The centre has been positioned to minimise the clearing of native vegetation. The building and carpark have been located in a partially cleared and degraded area, with the building positioned so that the majority of the footprint will be located within lower quality vegetation. The vegetation will be retained adjacent to the future building, where this complies with bushfire protection standards.  An environmental offset has also been provided by the City.

 Vegetation will be salvaged where possible and used in the landscaping of the centre. Grasstrees and Macrozamia palms have been temporarily removed from the site and will be relocated as part of the landscaping of the site. Seed collection was also undertaken in the project footprint area in Spring 2020 and these seeds will be used to grow plants used for landscaping around the building, carpark and surrounding bushland.
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9 Coleville Crescent,
Spearwood 6163

PO Box 1215, Bibra Lake DC,
Western Australia, 6965

Office opening hours:
8.30am to 4.30pm
Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays)

Language Support

Cockburn Nyungar moort Beeliar boodja-k kaadadjiny. Koora, yeyi, benang baalap nidja boodja-k kaaradjiny.
Ngalak kaadatj dayin boodja, kep wer malayin. Ngalak kaadatj koora koora wer yeyi ngalang birdiya.

City of Cockburn acknowledges the Nyungar people of Beeliar boodja. Long ago, now and in the future they care for country.
We acknowledge a continuing connection to land, waters and culture and pay our respects to the Elders, past, present and emerging.