We celebrate Kings Park and Bold Park as significant places for all people - from the Whadjuk Noongar people as traditional custodians to the multicultural community of the present day.
At the peak of Mount Eliza in Kings Park or atop Reabold Hill in Bold Park, sprawling views of river, ocean and land have drawn people in for thousands of years. While the city has grown up around us, the significance of these places to Aboriginal people long ago is still palpable for visitors today.
We recognise the Whadjuk Noongar people as the traditional custodians of Bold Park and Kings Park land. We seek to preserve, celebrate and learn from their culture and vast knowledge of the land.
From survival to ceremony, these lands were traditionally used seasonally for hunting, camping, trade, gatherings and many other purposes. Native plants were well understood and used for a plethora of purposes. Spiritual connections to the land were, and continue to be, strong.
'The Waugal creation story is a crucial element of the spiritual ties Noongar people have to land and water of the Swan Coastal Plain,' according to local researcher Dr Nandi Chinna ('Understories - Tales from the People's Park', Dr Nandi Chinna, 2015).
Kings Park is situated on the land known as Kaarta Koomba, Kaarta Gar-up or Mooro Kaarta to the land's traditional owners, the Whadjuk Noongar people.
Noongar Elder Reverend Sealin Garlett, who has family connections to the Kings Park area, recalls his 87-year old uncle Cliff Humphries taking him for a ride on the horse and cart in 1998 that was available to take visitors around the park.
'He showed me all the Nyungar camps. He showed me where my grandma used to live, where they picked out a camp and where they used to stay … showed me some of the birds and the trees, and the ashes and the blackboys, and the medicine that was in the blackboys … showed me roots of trees and the medicine bushes. I remember when we looked at the camp. He showed me where these people used to get water from. It was a great highlight for me, especially in my young adult years, to absorb all that information.' (Len Collard, 2008. Oral history in 'Homesick for Country: stories of love, spirit and creation', Fremantle Press).
The connections and similarities between the stories of Kings Park, past, present and future are not lost on Noongar elder Richard Walley, who has talked of an innate essence of place that encourages similar uses over time. Walley comments that the way we use Kings Park today; for family gatherings, ceremonies, commemorations, feasts, parties, courtship and celebration mirrors past usages in the times before colonisation. The spirit and memory inscribed over hundreds of generations impacts the way we view and use Kings Park today (Walley, 2009).
Today in Kings Park, visitors can immerse themselves in Noongar culture on walking tours, self-guided trails, in Kings Park Education programs and by exploring public artwork. Or simply stand on the scarp of Kaarta Koomba, look out and imagine what the view would have been like for the Whadjuk Noongar people before the city was established.