Nyoongar Boodja

The Nyoongar people were the first human inhabitants of the country in which the current town of Dardanup is now situated.

Nyoongar Country or Nyoongar Boodja covers the entire south-western portion of Western Australia. The boundary commences on the west coast at a point north of Jurien Bay, proceeds roughly east to a point approximately north of Moora, east to Southern Cross and then roughly south-east to the coast at Esperance.

The current townsite of Dardanup is located within the traditional country of the Wadandi, Kaneang and Wilman people, three of the Nyoongar language groups.  This country is made up of the Collie River from its source to the Leschenault Inlet and includes the Preston River, the Ferguson River, the Brunswick River, the Harris River, and all other waterways that flow into these.

Visitors to the south-west of Western Australia will notice that many place names end in “up”.  This is because in Nyoongar language, “up” means “place of”.  The name Dardanup is believed to be derived from the Nyoongar name for the area, “Dudingup”, however the exact meaning has been lost over time.  

Rivers and waterways are culturally significant to Nyoongar people.  Elders tell mythological stories about the Walgu and the rituals that must be performed prior to bathing, swimming, or fishing in waterways.

The Walgu is the major spirit for Nyoongar people and central to their beliefs and customs. The Walgu is a hairy faced serpent, the creator of all the fresh waterways, above and below the ground.

Nyoongar ancestors regarded rivers as a ‘life source’ and used rivers and shorelines for travel, camping, trade, and as a source of water and food.  Today First Nations people remain culturally and historically connected to rivers and still fish for yellow tail, black bream, silver bream, cobbler, eels, turtles and marron in the rivers.

The Collie River Heritage Trail is a walk trail near Eaton that promotes the cultural identity and history of the Pindjareb, Wilman and Wadandi people, reflecting the unique and spiritual relationship they have with the Boodjar (land) and Beelya (river). This walk trail is called Koorliny Beelya (“water going along”).  If you would like to learn more go to: https://www.dardanup.wa.gov.au/our-shire/tourism/collie-river-heritage-walkway/