An interactive online map with Noongar place names – which will be the first of its kind in Australia – will be launched on Monday at the Perth Cultural Centre.
Titled Gnarla Boodja Mili Mili (‘Our Country on Paper’), the map captures 31 Noongar place names of Perth’s Central Business District.
The map will be launched by Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Ben Wyatt as part of the International Year of Indigenous Languages.
Chair of the City of Perth Elders Advisory Group, Uncle Noel Nannup will also be in attendance to give a Welcome to Country at the free community event.
Aboriginal History WA researcher Mark Chambers said the organisation worked with input from the community to compile the map, which includes thoroughly researched information on the significance of each place and rare historic photographs.
“The majority of the place names that appear on the map were recorded by a number of people during the 1830s and added to departmental maps from around 1912,” Mr Chambers said.
Director at Aboriginal History WA, Anna Wyatt said the map took hundreds of hours of intensive research, with the process involving searching and analysing thousands of historical records.
“Before we even started, we asked the Elders if they thought this map would be something we should try to put together and every single one of them supported the concept,” Ms Wyatt said.
Ms Wyatt said urgent action was required to record and preserve information from local Elders.
“There is an opportunity for universities, schools and local governments to work with the local Aboriginal communities to grow this map and include new layers, for example burial sites and camping sites around Perth,” Ms Wyatt said.
“This work educates people about significant Aboriginal areas in the inner Perth area and the recording of this information helps to preserve the rich history and knowledge of one of the oldest continuous cultures in the world.”
Mr Chambers said the map was designed to be updated and expanded over time and in future, Aboriginal History WA would be looking at adding another layer to the existing map.
“We are looking at adding places of significance to the Aboriginal community from the earliest orphanages on the terrace, through to Jack Davis’ house, through to sites for the Coolbaroo Club and the Department of Aboriginal Affairs,” Mr Chambers said.
“It is very much the beginning; it is there for people to look at and discuss and then add to.”
The launch of Gnarla Boodja Mili Mili will take place on Monday September 16, 2pm at the James Street Amphitheatre at Perth Cultural Centre, Northbridge.
The map will be available online on the day of the launch at: https://www.dlgsc.wa.gov.au/aboriginal-history.
By Jade Bradford