Shark Bay's History

Shark Bay’s Aboriginal Heritage

Aboriginal people first lived in Shark Bay some 30,000 years ago. They were possibly the first indigenous Australians to make contact with Europeans, and among the first to be described to the Western world by European explorers. Since European colonisation, the fortunes of Shark Bay’s Aboriginal people have fluctuated. Many have suffered exploitation and injustice. Today the history, traditions and achievements of Aboriginal people are recognised and celebrated, encouraging a resurgence of pride in identity, culture and language.

  • Link to the Aboriginal Occupation page

    Aboriginal occupation of Shark Bay

    Shark Bay has a long history of use and occupation by Aboriginal people. There are more than 100 Aboriginal cultural heritage sites, and possibly many more yet to be discovered. Uncover Shark Bay’s ancient cultural history here.

  • Link to the Aboriginal Languages page

    Aboriginal languages of Shark Bay

    Shark Bay is the traditional country of three Aboriginal language groups:

    The Malgana, Nhanda and Yingkarta. The Malgana name for Shark Bay is Gathaagudu, which means “two bays”. Learn some local language here!

  • Link to the First Contact page

    First contact with Europeans

    Discover the fascinating story of the Zuytdorp shipwreck survivors, and the people who helped them.

  • Link to the French Connection page

    The French connection

    Observations by French explorers provided insight into the traditional life and customs of Shark Bay’s first people.

    Find out what they saw here.

  • Link to the Lock Hospital page

    Lock Hospitals in Shark Bay

    Shark Bay’s Aboriginal cultural heritage sites range from places of ancient feasts and celebrations to places of modern-day pain and injustice.

    The tragedy of the Lock Hospitals is recounted here.

  • Link to the Aboriginal Involvement in Shark Bay's Industry page

    Aboriginal involvement in Shark Bay industries

    Aboriginal workers made a vital contribution to the region’s economic development.

    Read about their achievements.

You can discover more about Shark Bay’s cultural heritage at the Shark Bay World Heritage Discovery Centre in Denham.