Reimagining the cultural significance of wetlands: From Perth’s lost swamps to the Beeliar Wetlands

Danielle Brady, Jeffrey Murray

Abstract


The history of Perth, Western Australia, has been characterised by the incremental loss of its wetlands. While disputes about wetlands are often framed solely in terms of the environment, they are places of cultural significance too. The extensive wetlands of central Perth, food gathering and meeting places for Noongar people are now expunged from the landscape. Urban dwellers of Perth are largely unaware that the seasonal lakes and wetlands of the centre of the city were the larders, gardens, hideouts, dumps and playgrounds of previous generations; both Noongar and Settler. The loss of social memory of these lost cultural/natural places entails the framing of wetlands as aberrant and continues to influence Perth’s development and the sense of place of its inhabitants. Reimagining Perth’s Lost Wetlands was a project which attempted to reimagine the pre-colonial landscape using archival material. Reimagining the past allows connections to be made to the last remaining wetlands in the wider metropolitan area. The fight to save the Beeliar Wetlands in southern suburban Perth as a cultural/natural place illustrates the changing value of wetlands and the laying down of social memories of place.

Keywords


social memory; wetlands conservation; reimagining landscape

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1344/co201824&25292-307

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