The City of Fremantle recognizes the Whadjuk people as the traditional owners of the greater Fremantle area. Its Nyoongar name is Walyalup and to the Whadjuk people, Walyalup is a place that has strong social, spiritual, cultural and historic significance.
There are three sites of Aboriginal significance recorded on the Register of Aboriginal Sites within the Fremantle local government are - these are DAA3419 – Cantonment Hill, DAA3536 – Swan River and DAA3596 – Rocky Bay.
A report detailing the Statements of Significance and Whadjuk Working Party visions and aspirations for the Fremantle area was developed in 2016. The report forms part of suite of documents regarding consultation with Whadjuk Nyoongar elders on the Cantonment Hill project.
Whadjuk visions and aspirations for Fremantle
The Whadjuk Advisory Group expressed the following visions and aspirations for Fremantle:
- Fremantle to become a place that speaks the truth
- Acknowledgement of Whadjuk Nyoongar people's rights and traditional ownership of the land
- Land hand back to Whadjuk Nyoongar community
- More employment and cultural opportunities within the City of Fremantle
- Public acknowledgement of Whadjuk achievements
- Tourism boat to and from Rottnest Island with Whadjuk Nyoongar tour guides
- Ensure that Whadjuk Nyoongar Intellectual Property is protected
- Direct engagement between the City of Fremantle and Whadjuk governances
- All significant sites in Fremantle should be maintained, preserved and protected
- Heritage sites should be respected and acknowledged for boorda (the future and for the generations to come), as they are part of Whadjuk Nyoongar identity and connect us to the nyittiny (the beginning of time).
In 2010 the City of Fremantle applied to the Minister of Indigenous Affairs for consent to use the registered sites for the purpose of ‘maintenance and improvements, landscape preservation, flora and fauna management’. The Minister granted consent in February 2011, subject to a number of conditions being satisfied to protect and appropriately manage the cultural heritage of the sites prior to works commencing, including the preparation of a Cultural Heritage Management Plan.
In 2011 the City of Fremantle commenced a project to revitalise Cantonment Hill. Cantonment Hill extends over an area of 2.31 hectares of land purchased by the City of Fremantle in 2010 from the federal government. A master plan was prepared in 2012, proposing works to improve the public facilities and enhance the natural features of the site. The project presents a rare opportunity to establish new parkland in the centre of the city, restore and activate the heritage-listed Fremantle Harbor Signal Station and Naval Stores and share the rich Aboriginal and European history of Cantonment Hill with the broader community.
In recognition of the need for a focused dialogue on the project, the City of Fremantle proposed an advisory group of Whadjuk Working Party members be established to assist develop the statements of significance. The Whadjuk Working Party nominated eight members, including Mr Greg Ugle, Mrs Theresa Walley, Mrs Vera Warrell, Marion Collard, Anne Ryder, Neville Collard, Richard Wilkes and Miriam Champion to represent the Whadjuk Working Party on the Whadjuk Advisory Group.
The Statements of Significance are based upon consultation and a site visit with the Whadjuk Advisory Group on Wednesday 17 February 2016 and extensive desktop research of literary and oral sources. The report has been written to acknowledge Whadjuk visions and aspirations for Fremantle and values for the recognition and protection of registered sites.