Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Culture in Cottesloe

Three aboriginal sites have been registered on the Department of Aboriginal Affairs Heritage Site database within the Town of Cottesloe. Mudurup, or Moonderup, is a ceremonial site located at Mudurup rocks, south of the Cottesloe Surf Club. The other two sites, Victoria Street Station and Macarthur Street, have been listed due to recorded artefacts being located there.

During mid to late summer, birok, (Dec-Jan) and burnoru (Feb-Mar) the Noongar people used to frequent the place called Mudurup, which is now known as Cottesloe Beach. The ceremonial site of Mudurup is considered as one of the most important mythological coastal sites on the Swan Coastal Plain.

The Mudurup site is a limestone outcrop that overlooks a platform that used to be a popular fishing spot. If you look at the limestone ledge and almost stalactite pipes projecting down from a distance the site resembles a shark with its mouth open. Moonda or Moonder means Tiger Shark.

Mudurup site was part of the initiation process, where initiates were taken to learn about Kurannup, the destination of the spirits beyond the western sea towards Garden and Rottnest Islands. The Noongar people believed that the ravens helped to carry the spirits away toward the setting sun, which drops on the horizon between the two islands.

The limestone rock formation of Mudurup allows underground freshwater springs to flow into the sea that the Noongar people believe were created by, and continue to be embodied by, the mythological Waugal or Rainbow Serpent. The Waugal is believed to embody all freshwater systems, including rivers, wetlands and lakes in and around the Swan Coastal Plain.

As well as an important creator, the Waugal is the protector of the environment. The Noongar people believe that if a waterway is damaged or changed, then the Waugal is also harmed. Hence, all freshwater systems must be protected and conserved to protect the Waugal and keep the environment healthy.

The following paper was presented by Indigenous heritage specialist Ken Macintyre at the Fish Habitat Protection Area (FHPA) Seminar sponsored by Coastcare, in May 2004.

Please click here to be directed to this paper.

Reflect - Reconciliation Action Plan 2023

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