Smoking ceremony marks start of Connect South construction

Media Release 5 February 2019
Connect South

A Noongar smoking ceremony was held on the Connect South project site on South Perth Foreshore on Tuesday 5 February to recognise the Noongar/Bibbulmun people and their significant contribution to the City of South Perth and mark the start of construction of the significant City project to reinvigorate the Mends Street precinct.

Performed by Matthew McGuire and his brother Walter, the ceremony was attended by City of South Perth CEO Geoff Glass, members of the City’s Aboriginal Reference Group and members of the Connect South project team. 

The South Perth area is the country of Beeloo Noongar people, or river people. Noongar people who used this area were known as Gareen and their place was Gareenup. 

The smoking ceremony is a traditional Noongar ritual used to not only cleanse and purify a specific area but it cleanses the spirit, body and soul whilst on Noongar Country. Smoking Ceremonies also help to ward off warra wirrin – bad spirits and to bring in the blessings of the kwop wirrin – good spirits. The leaves and shavings from the balga (grass tree) smolder and the smoke purifies the area and prepares for a new beginning. This ritual of purification and unity – signifies the beginning of something new.

The first stage of Connect South will create a vibrant and accessible entry point to Mends Street, the Perth Zoo and greater South Perth. Works will include the development of an active pedestrian-friendly piazza on the Mends Street Foreshore and minor upgrades to the northern area of Mends Street, between Mill Point Road and South Perth Esplanade. 

Three key themes ‘Perth Zoo’, ‘A Garden Suburb’ and ‘Public Transport’ were identified during the public consultation as being significant in shaping the development of this area and defining its character. The Connect South designs draw on these themes.

Stage 1 will improve the visitor experience and create active and passive spaces with a host of seating options and improved lighting. Greater shade and weather protection will be provided by two sculptural canopies based on the frilled necked lizard and numbat. Additionally, Connect South will reinforce the links between South Perth, Elizabeth Quay and the Perth Central Business District. 

“Connect South is set to create a civic space that recognises the unique character and history of the area whist developing a contemporary urban heart. It will create new spaces for the community and connect important destinations within the Mends Street precinct,” City of South Perth Mayor, Sue Doherty said.

“The project is about creating a positive environment, both economically and socially to support the growth of the South Perth Peninsula and greater region. It is focused on improved access to transport, improved public amenity and greater economic opportunity.

Construction is anticipated to be completed in November 2019 at an estimated total project cost of $7.5 million with $2.5 million from Federal Government National Stronger Regions funding and $5 million from the City of South Perth.

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