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.
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.
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!
First contact with Europeans
Discover the fascinating story of the Zuytdorp shipwreck survivors, and the people who helped them.
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.
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.
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.