Wp/nys/Djarlgarro Beelier (Canning River)

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The Djarlgarro Beelier (Canning River) is a major tributary of the Derbarl Yerrigan (Swan River).

Djarlgarro Beelier (Canning River) in 1932

The English name for the river was given in 1827 when Captain James Stirling, exploring the region in March 1827 aboard HMS Success, named the river after George Canning, Prime Minister of Great Britain at the time wer whose government provided funds for the expedition.

The Djarlgarro Beelier (Canning River) was created by the spiritual ancestor of the Noongar, the Waugal, a serpent-like spirit who was responsible for the creation of this and all the rivers, waterholes, lakes, valleys and landforms on its journey from inland Western Australia to the ocean. After creation, the Waugal left the Noongar people with the responsibility of custodianship including continuing the beliefs associated with these creations. The Noongar people and culture have, and continue to, identify with the Djarlgarro Beelier as being of spiritual significance, in which as custodians are bestowed the honour of continuing this connection. Noongar people believe that sustaining the health of Noongar country ensures the survival of Noongar culture. [1]

Noongar believe that the Waugal shed its skin, which turned into Biboolboorn (Paperbark). That is why you always see the paperbark along the rivers. Activity - Hello Good Spirits (Kaya Kwop Wiern) [2]

The Noongar advise that if you go into the river ways, you need to rub the sand under your armpits so it knows your smell then throw the sand into the water. As you do this you can say nguny kwell (I am) your name and say hello to the spirit (kaya kwop wiern), asking permission to enter the water. When you leave you say boordawhan wiern (goodbye spirit). [3]

Origin of name


The Noongar meaning of Djarlgarro Beelier is a ‘place of abundance’, wer area occupied by both tribes. [4]

Djarlgarro Beelier Waarnk - Stories about the Canning River


The Darling Scarp is said to represent the body of a Wagyl (also spelt Waugal) – a snakelike being from Dreamtime that meandered over the boodjar creating Bilyak - Rivers wer pinjar (swamps/lakes). The Wagyl/Waugal created the Djarlgarro Beelier.[5]

The Waagle is the creation deity of the traditional owners, the Whadjuk Noongar of Canning Rivers, responsible for the creation of the rivers, waterholes, lakes, valleys wer landforms il its journey from inland Western Australia to the ocean [6]

Uses of the area for Whadjuk Noongar






The blossoms of the kwowdjard are a source of honey. You can suck the sweet nectar straight from the flower blossoms or the flowers can be soaked in water to produce a sweet drink. When this drink is allowed to ferment to produce Gep, intoxicating liquor.

Flooded Gum / Moitch


Moitch is present along the Canning River. The leaves produce eucalyptus oil which is used by Noongar people for medicinal purposes such as breathing it to clear sinuses.

Grass tree / Balga


Balga has many uses including firelighters, shelter material, food and medicine. The resin is highly flammable and is used to light fires. The burning resin is pleasantly fragrant and, when inhaled, can be useful in clearing sinuses. The white pulp inside is used as a medicine for upset stomachs or eaten as food in times of shortage.

Peppermint tree / Wonnil


Wonnil leaves were used for smoking and healing and the oil used to rub on cuts and sores to help their healing.

Bulrushes/ Yangeti


Yangeti roots are eaten after pounding the white rhizomes to remove the fibrous parts. They are then moulded into a paste and roasted as cakes that taste like asparagus. The centre of the stem at the base is edible too. Young flowering spikes are eaten raw or cooked, though the hard centre of the spike is inedible.

Swamp Paperbark / Yowarl


Yowarl bark is used for storage vessels, padding, kindling or sanitary purposes. The leaves are commonly used for medicinal purposes and can be sucked or chewed for relief of flu or cold symptoms. The leaves can also be brewed to make tea and are used in smoking ceremonies.



Baronga Mia/Place of Totems


Ngiyan waarnk

  1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ONwcf6ORgZU.
  2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ONwcf6ORgZU.
  3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ONwcf6ORgZU.
  4. https://www.noongarculture.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/indigenous-history-of-the-swan-and-canning-rivers.pdf
  5. Spirituality. Kaartdijin Noongar - Noongar Knowledge. South West Aboriginal Land & Sea Council. Retrieved 17 August 2016
  6. Debra Hughes-Hallett (2010). "Indigenous History of the Swan and Canning Rivers". p. 12