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Beyond the waters

The Spirit and Science of Walliabup Bibra Lake

Walliabup Bibra Lake is a traditional teaching place of the Whadjuk people of the Nyungar nation in Southwestern Australia which offers powerful connections to local and international biodiversity values.

Six seasons, distinctive fauna, flora, and people are part of a complex network of relationships connected with this precious body of water located 24 km south of the Western Australian capital Perth.

This 10–part podcast series shares the exceptional co-cultural values of Walliabup Bibra Lake through voices, knowledge and experience. Walliabup Bibra Lake creates community action, strong emotion, shared commitment, and a new optimism.


This episode provides an overview of key reasons the Beeliar Wetlands are so important and why they were the scene of one of the most spirited protest campaigns in Australian history. In this episode Elder-in-Residence Marie Taylor introduces the exceptional Whadjuk Nyungar values of Walliabup Bibra Lake and shares them with young Western Australian visitors to The Wetlands Centre, while Dr Philip Jennings  explains what’s meant by a ‘biodiversity hotspot’.


The state-of-the-art nursery at the Wetlands Centre is a community education hub and specialist propagation facility. The nursery grows priority species critical to restoration work at the wetlands. In this episode, tips to ensure our native flora flourish and how to create your own home-grown wildflower garden.


Using archival materials and current interviews, we revisit the community fight to save the Beeliar Wetlands in the face of a rapacious state government determined to get its way in its dying days of office. We’ll hear from Kim Dravneiks, Prof Andrea Gaynor, and Mayor Logan Howlett, and meet some of the great characters of the Beeliar campaign; the ordinary protesters, the poets and the performers who helped secure victory for the wetlands environment.


Whadjuk Ballardong Yorga Marie Taylor is The Wetland Centre’s inaugural Elder in Residence. Aunty Marie introduces the significance of the wetlands to Nyungar people, shares some Dreaming stories and discusses her people’s connections to the area over millennia. We’ll also hear about how the wetlands were once used as a place of birthing by Nyungar women and meet a woman called Catherine Coomer born at Walliabup Bibra Lake.


Western Australian Archaeologist Fiona Hook worked closely with the Nyungar community to prove more than 10,000 years of habitation around Walliabup Bibra Lake. This leading archaeological research has played an important role in the future protection of Walliabup Bibra Lake and adjacent Coolbellup North Lake. Initial discoveries of quartz, chert and granite proved human habitation and challenged government moves delisting Aboriginal heritage sites in the wetland’s corridor. Hear about the original digs and new finds from archaeologists and Traditional Owners involved in the excavations.


Join two exciting night stalks in the Beeliar Wetlands and discover the secrets of frisky Motor Bike frogs and some boisterous microbats as they conduct their after-dark antics and behaviours. Denise and Jo take us on a guided tour along torch-lit paths after the sun goes down to introduce visitors to these two endearing species and their shared love of bugs.


Walliabup Bibra Lake is a place of extraordinary cultural and historical significance to the people of the Nyungar nation. The Whadjuk people have an association with the wetlands dating back tens of thousands of years, while contemporary scientists bring more recent western knowledge. In this episode, Elder Dr Noel Nannup and WA’s Chief Scientist Peter Klinken take a visit to the wetlands to talk together about these perspectives.


The changing wetland seasons sustain a rich biodiversity while inspiring creativity and passion in the artistic community. This episode introduces musicians, singers, songwriters and poets who have captured the essence of wetland through their words, performance and powerful music. Catchy tunes and swampish musings are sourced from Songs from the Beeliar Wetlands and poets Daniel Hansen and Dr Nandi Chinna.


The south-western snake-necked turtle (Chelondina colliei) is one of the many amazing inhabitants of the Beeliar Wetlands. But keeping them safe from predation and busy roads is very difficult. In this episode, we meet the researchers and community Turtle Trackers committed to the protection of these turtles particularly at vulnerable breeding times.


How do we keep the wetlands safe and healthy? What is the role of The Wetlands Education Centre and how does our relationship with Walliabup Bibra Lake itself influence the future? In this episode, we hear about habitat revegetation, the Reconciliation Plan and aims for an expanded regional park. We visit The Wetlands Education Centre to meet some of the people who value the wetlands and we hear from some of the key contributors in the series including Marie Taylor, Dr Philip Jennings, Professor Andrea Gaynor, Kim Dravneiks and Mayor Logan Howlett to get their perspectives on these issues and vision for the future.

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Beyond the Waters
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Produced by Latitude Creative Services

Project Lead, Writer/Director   Gina Pickering

Writer/Director   Russell Bishop

Editor   Gillian Walker

Post Sound   Tim Halligan