your guide to perth + fremantle
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Australia's first inhabitants were Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders. They are believed to have arrived in migratory waves from south east Asia between 40,000 and 150,000 years ago, making Australia one of the oldest continents in the world both geologically and in terms of continuous human history. Australia's Indigenous people now make up only 1.5 per cent of Australia's total population, with approximately two thirds living in cities and towns and the balance living in rural and remote areas. Some of these people still maintain a traditional way of life.
Nyoongar people are the original inhabitants of south western Australia and acrhaeological evidence indicates that the area on which the city of Perth now stands was inhabited by relatively high numbers of Indigenous people for thousands of years prior to the arrival of Europeans. The Nyoongar people are traditional hunter-gatherers who enjoyed the abundant food and water found along the coastal plain. Being conservationists by nature they took only what they needed to survive and had a high regards for life and the land.
Indigenous Australians believed that their ancestors created the land were' great spirits of the dreaming' who controlled the movements of the planets and stars, the seasons and the tides. Aboriginal law and custom evolved from the myths that grew up around these ancestor figures. They also believes that the process of telling these myths whether in dance, song or painting enabled them to draw on the power and influence of their ancestral spirits. In a culture which has no written language their very distinctive art form, which reflects a deep connection with the land the environment, evolved over many millenia to record the beliefs and stories from the 'Dreaming', enabling them to be passed on to successive generations.
Visit Victoria Gardens in East Perth where you can see the Charnock Woman, a 25 metre pavement mosaic, and Ngango Batta's Mooditcher, the Claisebrook bank of the Derbarl Yerrigan (Swan River). On Heirisson Island is a statue to commemorate Yagan, a courageous Nyoongar tribal leader, and, in Forrest Place, a popular artwork depicts two snakes fighting.
Indigenous artworks are a highlight of the State Art Collection at the Art Gallery of WA in the Perth Cultural Centre. The Aboriginal Art Gallery in Kings Park exhibitions the works of artists from WA and the Northern Territory. Aboriginal performers who work in the gallery talk about culture, bush food and medicine from the Nyoongar area.
Mooditch Tours can take you on a journey of discovery in the heart of the city. Learn about an array of Aboriginal weapons and tools, listen to the spellbinding sounds of the didgeridoo and watch traditional dancing. Find out about the history of Kings Park on a Kings Park Indigenous Heritage Tour. Learn about traditional implements, tools and weapons, bush medicines and bush tucker. To book phone the WA Visitor Centre on +61 8 9483 1111.