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History of the Area

Beeliar Primary School is proudly located on Noogar Whadjuk Boodja. The school is located in the suburb of Beeliar in Perth WA. Beeliar is a Noongar word that translates to ‘river’ or ‘water running through’.

The suburb of Beeliar includes a chain of lakes and wetlands that run parallel to the coast of WA, which is the origin of the name. Noongar creation stories tell us that the chains of wetlands are symbolised by a rainbow serpent, the Waakal. The serpent twists its way from Fremantle to Mandurah. The Waakal creates the shape of the Boodjar (land), over, under and through the earth and gives foundation to the meaning of life in the area.

Before European settlement, the area was occupied by the Beeliar group of the Whadjuk nation, who are part of the broader Noongar language region of south west WA. It is widely believed that the Noongar people have lived in the Whadjuk region for over 40 000 years.

In 1833, early settler R.M. Lyon spent many months talking to Indigenous people in the Cockburn area. He learned that the name ‘Beeliar’ was used to describe Midgegooroo’s country. Midgegooroo was an Aboriginal elder, who along with his son Yagan, played a key role in Aboriginal resistance to white settlement in the area.

Timeline Of Midgegooroo

Midgegooroo’s country had borders that ran along the Swan river to Canning, east to the hills, and south to Cockburn Sound. Lyon recorded the language of Midgegooroo’s people, which he also called Beeliar, along with the languages of many other groups in the area, and published his translations and thoughts in the colony’s newspaper.

Lyon describes Beeliar as both a language and a place. The Beeliar district, he said, stretched north-south from the Swan and Canning Rivers to Mangles Bay, and east-west from the sea to the Darling Scarp. It was Midgegooroo’s district, which made him a ‘chief’, and Yagan, as his son, ‘one of the princes of the country’.

History of Beeliar Primary School

Beeliar was approved as a suburb name in 1993, but wasn’t officially created by the City of Cockburn until early 1995, carved out of the southern portion of Yangebup.

Beeliar Primary School’s origin is an unusual one as the school site was originally occupied by two schools. The following is an excerpt from the then Education Minister Colin Barnett’s media statement.

‘The first educational campus in Western Australia, where both a Government and non-Government school will share facilities, is to be built at Beeliar, in the City of Cockburn, south of Perth.

 Education Minister Colin Barnett yesterday unveiled a plaque at the site of the two schools, to mark the start of the unique project, a joint venture between the Education Department and the Uniting Church of Australia Schools Education Commission.

 Beeliar Primary School and St Luke’s Primary School will be built side-by-side, with joint facilities in the centre – a library, a covered assembly area, an art and craft centre and a music room. The two schools will also share netball courts and an oval.’

The full media Statement can be viewed from the link below.

Media Statements – Two primary schools to share facilities at Beeliar

Beeliar Primary School opened in 1999. Mr Peter Glendenning was the Foundation Principal. Beeliar Primary School opened with approximately 120 students from Years K to 7 and 20 staff. There are still some staff who are currently at the school, who were Foundation Staff members in 1999 when the school opened.

The following information regarding St. Luke’s is taken from the State Library Archives.

St Luke’s School opened in 1998 (with approximately 54 students) and was in a joint venture arrangement with Beeliar Primary School, which was the first time in WA that Government and a Non-Government school shared facilities in providing schooling for primary age students. St Luke’s closed in 2003.

After St. Luke’s closed, the school site and all the shared facilities became the responsibility of the Education Department of WA. Beeliar Primary School took over the site and grew in numbers as the population of Beeliar continued to grow.

History of our Factions

Beeliar Primary School has four Factions that students are allocated to. These factions are named after shipwrecks off the coast of WA.

Amelia: Our Blue Faction is named after a ship that sank off South Bay, Fremantle in 1842. The pilot of the ship Richard Maxworthy was sacked after giving wrong instructions. The ship was carrying agricultural products including flour, sugar, pigs and ponies.

Cambria: Our Green Faction is named after a ship that, after departing Fremantle, ran into a southwest gale with heavy seas, so the Captain headed for the South Passage of Garden Island to seek shelter at Rockingham. However on reaching the South Channel a heavy swell lifted the ship to leeward and it struck a reef on the southwest of Garden Island. The crew spent the night clinging to the rigging. The next day they launched the lifeboat and all of the crew, passenger Mr Reid and ship’s cat made it to a sandy beach on Garden Island. They found some old sails and rigged the lifeboat and sailed back to Fremantle arriving at 3pm. The ship and its cargo of general goods and machinery was not recovered.

Edina: Our Yellow Faction is named after a ship that sank off the Abrolhos Islands in 1921 during a storm. It was the worst storm recorded in that area.

Maranda: Our Red Faction is named after a Hulk (Storage) ship that was scuttled (towed out and sunk) in 1933 in the Ships’ Graveyard off Rottnest Island. Redundant vessels have been scuttled in the deep water SW of Rottnest Island since 1910. Maranda is one of some 47 ships who have their final resting place in that area South West of Rottnest.

Rottnest Ship Graveyard

Today at Beeliar Primary School

In 2024, Beeliar Primary School is a Level 5 Independent Public School with a school population of approximately 500 students and 60 staff, with around 10% of our students being Aboriginal.

Beeliar Primary School offers primary education from Kindergarten to Year Six. Forty additional students attend the Fremantle Language Development Centre who share our school site. The school is situated within the Beeliar estate and is surrounded by beautiful bushland.

In 2024, Beeliar Primary School celebrates 25 years of service to the community.

Our Campus

Beeliar Primary School is located on a stunning Campus, which includes surrounding native bushland and adjoins a City of Cockburn maintained recreational reserve which doubles as the school oval and includes four multi-purpose court areas. There are excellent facilities on the campus including:

  • Five Teaching Blocks (Including Purpose Built ECE)
  • Designated Music, Visual Arts, Health and LOTE classrooms
  • A fully enclosed and carpeted undercover area (The Hub)
  • Library/Resource Centre
  • Canteen
  • Extensive paved areas including amphitheatre
  • Sustainability garden and chicken coupe

With respect to the Noongar history of the area, a painted ‘river’ runs from the front of the school through the main thoroughfare. ‘The River’ fauna are being jointly painted by a local indigenous artist and by other members of the school community.