Nidja Nyoongar Boodja – ‘This is Nyoongar country!’
Aboriginal heritage at Fiona Stanley Hospital
The land on which Fiona Stanley Hospital stands is of significant heritage value to Noongar people due to its connection to the chain of wetlands and lakes which once stretched from the Moore River to the Peel Inlet, used extensively by Aboriginal people.
During construction of the hospital, traditional owners and families who were monitoring site works, discovered tools and artefacts made thousands of years ago.
Archaeologists were engaged to determine the age and significance of these discoveries.
One of the tools was made of fossiliferous chert, a material sourced from outcrops that geologists believe were submerged by sea level rise after the last Ice Age, more than 6,000 years ago. Other artefacts found were mostly of quartz, which was probably sourced from granite rocks of the Darling Range.
An excavation where the Mental Health building now stands unearthed a stone adze, or wood-working tool, thought to be between 13,000 and 33,000 years old.
Ochre found on site also suggests trade or travel from another region. Ochre was a highly valued resource used during ceremonies, and also as paint and decoration.
The artefacts found show that the ancestors of the Noongar people engaged in travel and trade across the coastal plain and beyond for many thousands of years.
In 2015, Noongar traditional owners were consulted in the design and installation of a special interactive display to showcase the heritage material.
This display stands in the main foyer of the hospital in a prominent part of the hospital.
The display is titled Nidja Nyoongar Boodja – ‘This is Nyoongar country!’, which recognises the ancient traditional Noongar connections to the land around the hospital and the importance of the local environment for their health and subsistence.