Aboriginal Cultural and Visitors Centre

Project Status

In progress

Project Type

Infrastructure & Buildings


Start: Mid 2025 Finish: Late 2027

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. It will also provide employment and small business opportunities for Aboriginal people through the creation of dedicated Aboriginal positions which recognise the need to have particular activities delivered by Aboriginal people.

In 2021 detailed designs for the new centre were developed in ongoing consultation with the Aboriginal community. The City has worked closely with our Aboriginal Reference Group (ARG) and the architect to make design changes that will provide cultural and environmental benefits. The reworked design was endorsed by Council on 9 December 2021.

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

The Aboriginal Cultural and Visitors Centre will be a place of recognition and learning about Nyungar culture, language, music, art and dance. Activities and spaces will 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
  • ​Aboriginal 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). 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 first 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.

View the Media Release

Frequently Asked Questions

Has there been a delay in the project’s progress?

In December 2021 Council endorsed a budget allocation of $12.5m for the Aboriginal Cultural and Visitors Centre.

In late 2022 a construction tender was released.

Due to ongoing high and rising inflation, building costs and interest rates coupled with a tight labour market, the preferred tender submission was more than $6m higher than the Council-endorsed budget.

As a result the tender was unable to be awarded.

Since February 2023, the City has identified savings in construction costs without compromising the facility’s functionality and design, focusing mainly on building substructure and minor redesign opportunities.

These alternations have been endorsed by the Cockburn Aboriginal Reference Group which has been involved with the project since its inception.

An allocation has been included in the draft 2024-25 Annual Municipal Budget to finalise the Centre’s design and commence construction.

The draft 2024-25 Annual Municipal Budget will be considered by Cockburn Council at its Special Council Meeting on 25 June 2024.

Why this location?

Consultation with the Aboriginal community identified that it is 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 surrounding 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 Wetlands 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 when subsidised and managed by the City of Cockburn.

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. 

Following the review and the subsequent increase in capital works, the City worked closely with the Aboriginal Reference Group (ARG) and the City’s Aboriginal Community Development Officers consulting with Aboriginal Elders, Traditional Owners and Aboriginal community members, as well as the architect to make design changes that provide cultural and environmental benefits while also achieving cost savings. A working party has also been formed to continue providing cultural advice throughout the design 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 café 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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City of Cockburn
Whadjuk Boodja
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)

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Cockburn Nyungar moort Beeliar boodja-k kaadadjiny. Koora, yeyi, benang baalap nidja boodja-k kaaradjiny.
Ngalak kaditj boodjar kep wer kaadidjiny kalyakool yoodaniny, wer koora wer yeyi ngalak Birdiya koota-djinanginy.

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 and present.