North Lake (Coolbellup) and Bibra Lake (Walliabup), form part of the Beeliar Wetlands south of the Swan River. The lakes were the focus of activities of the Swan Coastal Aboriginal peoples, the Nyoongar. The dialect group known as the Beeliar, had semi-permanent camp-sites around both North and Bibra lakes. Some clan members, particularly the elderly, remained near North and Bibra lakes throughout the year, whilst the remainder dispersed inland throughout winter. They used these lakes and adjacent swamps for turtle, waterfowl and typha reeds. The lakes were foci for ceremonial activities.
Coolbellup is associated with the mythology of the female Waugal which is part of the Aboriginals' need to respect special places to ensure harmony in the world. Other water landmarks such as springs and waterholes were considered to be the residing place of 'spirit children'. These were responsible for births, thus new clan members were associated with these special places which gave them an identity with the landscape.
The swampy area, now called Horse Paddock Swamp, is associated with the myth - the Firestick Story, of how fire was stolen from the moon and bought to the Beeliar people. Some nearby high ground was used for burials.
Archaeology of North Lake and Bibra Lake
A number of archaeological investigations of North and Bibra Lakes area have confirmed the ethnographic evidence that lake perimeters were camping areas with a diversity of activities. The main site of occupation was the narrow strip of land between North and Bibra Lake, which would be totally destroyed by the proposed route of the
"Roe Highway Stage 8."
Chert stone artefacts have been found to be relatively abundant in the area.
The chertz can only be obtained from quarries presently below sea level which were last exposed 8,000 years ago. A site on the northern fringe of North Lake has a stratified deposit indicating its continual use for at least 2,000 years.
Current Aboriginal Significance
North and Bibra Lakes still remains a significantly important cultural site for the Aboriginal people. This is believed to be one of the most significant Aboriginal historical sites, within the Perth metropolitan area south of the Swan River. It is in need of long term studies to document its archaeological details.
||The Nyoongar Elders have come together and voiced their opposition to Roe Highway being constructed in any form through North and Bibra Lakes. Click the icon to watch a video.
For further information, view PDF's of reports and reports excerpts which highlight the Aboriginal cultural significance of North and Bibra Lakes, click here, then look in the 'Aboriginal Reports' section.