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 Celebrating People and Culture

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Noongar People

Noongar means ‘a person of the south-west of Western Australia’, or the name for the ‘original inhabitants of the south-west of Western Australia’ and they are one of the largest Aboriginal cultural blocks in Australia.

Noongar are made up of fourteen different language groups (which may be spelt in different ways): Amangu, Yued/Yuat, Whadjuk/Wajuk, Binjareb/Pinjarup, Wardandi, Balardong/Ballardong, Nyakinyaki, Wilman, Ganeang, Bibulmun/Piblemen, Mineng, Goreng and Wudjari and Njunga. Each of these language groups correlates with different geographic areas with ecological distinctions. Noongar have ownership of their own kaartdijin and culture. Not all Noongar cultural history and kaartdijin can be shared.

Noongar boodja (country) – 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 easterly to a point approximately north of Moora and then roughly south-east to a point on the southern coast between Bremer Bay and Esperance. There is no evidence that there has been any other group than Noongar in the south-west.

Alternative spellings:

  • Nyungar 
  • Nyoongar 
  • Nyoongah
  • Nyungah
  • Nyugah
  • Yunga

For the Noongar people in the Perth area, the main source of food came from the wardan (ocean), the Swan River and the extensive system of freshwater lakes that once lay between the coast and the Darling Escarpment. Further south and east Noongar people lived off the resources of the Karri and Jarrah forests. In the southern coastal area around Albany, Noongar built fish traps and hunted turtle. To the north and east Noongar people lived in the semi-arid regions of what is now the wheat belt.

It is known that Noongar people travelled within their country to trade with other families. What is now Albany Highway was once a Noongar track between families in Perth and Albany. Other trade routes existed in the south west and Noongar people could often travel for hundreds of kilometers on foot between each family group.

Source: Courtesy of South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council website - Kaartdijin Noongar - Noongar Knowledge

Meaning of flags

Aboriginal Flag

The Australian Aboriginal Flag was designed by artist Harold Thomas and first flown at Victoria Square in Adelaide, South Australia, on National Aborigines Day, 12 July 1971. It became the official flag for the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra after it was first flown there in 1972. Since then, it has become a widely recognised symbol of the unity and identity of Aboriginal people.

In view of the flag’s wide acceptance and importance in Australian society, the Commonwealth took steps in 1994 to give the flag legal recognition. After a period of public consultation, in July 1995 the Aboriginal flag was proclaimed a ‘Flag of Australia’ under the Flags Act 1953. In 1997 the Federal Court recognised Harold Thomas as the author of the flag.

Form and symbolism

The Aboriginal flag is divided horizontally into halves. The top half is black and the lower half red. There is a yellow circle in the centre of the flag.

The meanings of the three colours in the flag, as stated by Harold Thomas, are:

  • Black – represents the Aboriginal people of Australia
  • Yellow circle – represents the Sun, the giver of life and protector 
  • Red – represents the red earth, the red ochre used in ceremonies and Aboriginal peoples’ spiritual relation to the land.

Torres Strait Islander Flag

The Torres Strait Islander flag was designed by the late Bernard Namok as a symbol of unity and identity for Torres Strait Islanders. Adopted in 1992, it was the winning entry in a design competition run by the Island Coordinating Council, a Queensland statutory body representing the community councils in the Torres Strait.

In the same year it was recognised by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) and given equal prominence with the Australian Aboriginal Flag.

In July 1995 the Australian Government recognised it, with the Australian Aboriginal Flag, as an official ‘Flag of Australia’ under the Flags Act 1953

Form and symbolism

The Torres Strait Islander flag has three horizontal panels, with green at the top and bottom and blue in between. These panels are divided by thin black lines. A white Dhari (traditional headdress) sits in the centre, with a five-pointed white star beneath it.

The meanings of the colours in the flag are: 

  • Green – represents the land 
  • Black – represents the Indigenous peoples 
  • Blue - represents the sea
  • White – represents peace

The Dhari represents Torres Strait Islander people and the five-pointed star represents the five island groups within the Torres Strait. The star is also a symbol for seafaring people as it is used in navigation.

National Reconciliation Week

Each year National Reconciliation Week (NRW) celebrates and builds on the respectful relationships shared by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians.

The dates that bookend the week (25 May to 3 June) are significant milestones in the reconciliation journey:

27 May - Marks the anniversary of Australia’s most successful referendum and a defining event in our nation’s history. The 1967 referendum saw over 90 per cent of Australians vote to give the Commonwealth the power to make laws for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and recognise them in the national census. 

3 June - Commemorates the High Court of Australia’s landmark Mabo decision in 1992, which legally recognised that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have a special relationship to the land—a relationship that existed prior to colonalisation and still exists today. This recognition paved the way for land rights or Native Title.

This year’s theme ‘Grounded in Truth, Walk Together with Courage’ focuses on fostering positive race relations. The relationship between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the broader community must be grounded in a foundation of truth. Whether you’re engaging in challenging conversations or unlearning and relearning what you know, this journey requires all of us to walk together with courage.

In recognition of National Reconciliation Week (27 May – 3 June), and as part of the City’s commitment to its Reconciliation Action Plan, the City is inviting community members and service providers to attend free Aboriginal Cultural Awareness and Understanding sessions facilitated by Mr Danny Ford from Kambarang Services on 30 May 2019. Please refer to the Events Page for more information.

For more information on the National Reconciliation Week, please visit the Reconciliation Australia website.


NAIDOC-award.jpgNAIDOC stands for National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee. Its origins can be traced to the emergence of Aboriginal groups in the 1920′s which sought to increase awareness in the wider community of the status and treatment of Indigenous Australians.

NAIDOC Week is held in the first full week of July. It is a time to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, culture and achievements and is an opportunity to recognise the contributions that Indigenous Australians make to our country and our society.

The theme for this year’s NAIDOC Week is: ‘Because of her, we can!’ which celebrates the invaluable contributions that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have made – and continue to make - to our communities, our families, our rich history and to our nation.

The City of Belmont celebrates NAIDOC Week by hosting a flag raising ceremony and morning tea on the Monday of NAIDOC Week. Please refer to the Events Page for more information.


Close the Gap

Australia’s peak Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous health bodies, health professional bodies and human rights organisations operate the Close the Gap Campaign. The Campaign’s goal is to raise the health and life expectancy of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to that of the non-Indigenous population within a generation: to close the gap by 2030. It aims to do this through the implementation of a human rights-based approach set out in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner’s Social Justice Report 2005.

The Close the Gap Campaign is a growing national movement. In 2007 the first National Close the Gap Day was held. It involved five large State events and more than 300 community events. National Close the Gap Day has become an annual event since 2009. Australians across every state and territory participate in this event. Health services, schools, businesses, hospitals, government departments, ambulance services, non-government organisations and others hold events to raise awareness and show support for the Campaign and its goals. Reflecting the importance of the Campaign to nation, it has become the largest and highest profile Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health event in the country.

To learn more about the Close the Gap visit the Australian Human Rights Commission website (source for this information) or Oxfam Australia website.

Noongar Seasons

Noongar people have traditionally hunted and gathered food according to the six seasons. In their Noongar language these are called Bunuru, Djeran, Makuru, Djilba, Kambarang and Birak and are determined by the weather patterns. The seasons tell which animal and plant resources are plentiful at those times. Noongar people know when it is the season for harvesting by signs in nature. A hazy summer sky foretells of the salmon running or the blossom on paperbarks brings the mullet fish. Noongar communities have always taken care to assure the survival of animal and plant species. They always leave some honey for the bees to build on and when the fish travel upstream to lay their eggs, they catch them on their way back down.


For Noongar people, the bush is their gourmet delicatessen. They harvest many types of yurenburt (berries), karda (goanna), bardi (witchetty grubs), yongka (kangaroo), turtles, and birds’ eggs. Food from the sea and waterways are a major resource for Noongars: djildjit (fish), wardan noorn (eel), abalone, cobbler, marron and gilgies. Fishing was traditionally carried out by men, whilst women gathered yams, berries, and quandongs.

It is an important part of Noongar custom and lore to take only what you need from nature in order to maintain biodiversity. By eating foods when they are abundant and in season, natural resources are not depleted and will still be available for the next year. As guardians of the country, they achieved balance and adaptability through thousands of years of living in harmony with the bush. Their knowledge of the seasons and managing the land was given to them by the Waugal and passed down by the Elders.

The City celebrates Noongar Seasons by hosting free community barbecues. Please refer to the Events Page for more details.

To view Noongar Seasons, please see details provided by South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council here.

Source: Courtesy of South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council website - Kaartdijin Noongar - Noongar Knowledge

Bilya Kard Boodja Lookout

On 15 December 2016, the City was proud to unveil new local attraction Bilya Kard Boodja Lookout at Tanunda Drive in Ascot, named to commemorate our Noongar heritage. Bilya means ‘River’, Kard means ‘Hill’ and Boodja means ‘Land/Country’. Bilya Kard Boodja Lookout is the highest piece of land along the Swan River in the City of Belmont. A ‘Moor Barndi’ Black Bream sculpture is featured in the park, decorated with artwork depicting the Noongar seasons and capturing the city view from the lookout.

The sculpture was designed and created by Peter Farmer junior and Kylie Graham from Peter Farmer Designs.

Kylie and Peter Junior chose the Black Bream as it is an important totem of the River’s and Noongar (Whadjuk) people in the Perth area, because of its diversity and how readily accessible the black bream is both as a food source and ceremonial resource throughout three of the six Noongar Seasons.

The sculpture depicts the food sources that the Derbarl Yerrigan (Swan River) has to offer as well as the six seasons of the Noongar Culture. 

Bilya Kard Boodja Lookout won the 2017 Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA) WA Cultural Heritage Landscape Architecture Award.

Contact Us

Please contact the City's Community Development team on 9477 7219 if you have any further queries.​​​