The local Aboriginal tribe, the Jinigudera, a part of the West Thalanyji tribe, and their predecessors, have lived in this region for at least the last thirty thousand years, and likely much longer. The Ningaloo traditional owners.
The Jinigudera people were coastal dwellers, hunter-gatherers, ranging from Tent Island through to Bulbali Point on the west coast of the Ningaloo. The Jinigudera people call themselves salt water people as they have always lived by the waters – these sites provide the oldest dated evidence for development of marine resources in Australia.
A range of archeologically significant sites, from burial grounds, caves and campsites, to middens and fish traps, are known throughout the area, and have enabled researchers to better understand the pre-history of the tribe and their predecessors. One of the oldest known pieces of jewellery in Australia – an ornamental string of beads made of cone shell was found near Mandu Mandu, in North West Cape, and has been carbon dated at an incredible 32,000 years old.
Their history, since white man came to the region, is equally interesting, and at times tragic. The Jinigudera people were always recognised as quite distinct from their neighbours. The very low numbers of indigenous people continuing to live in this and surrounding areas is due to a combination of white man’s disease, including measles, mumps, flu, and sexually transmitted diseases and also because of blackbirding – when ships came to capture whole groups of Aborigines, and shipped them to places such as Broome to work as slaves.
One of the most fascinating stories from the area is the Barque Stefano shipwreck from 1875. Of the 17 crew, only 10 reached the shore. The wandering and weak survivors, afraid of attacks from cannibals, were hit by a cyclone which weakened them further, and many died of thirst and lack of food, leaving only two survivors. They were rescued by the local tribe – the ‘cannibals’ that they had feared, who nursed them back to health over a number of months before they were rescued off Bundegi Beach. After being taken to Fremantle the two raised funds to take gifts back to their rescuers. Please visit for more information: http://imjournal.murdoch.edu.au/im-issue-3-2007/
The aboriginal name for the North West Cape is Palyadi Manu.
Respecting the natural environment, history and culture of this very special area is incredibly important to the local Aboriginal people and their ancestors – and as the Traditional Owners of this area they have a right to ask this respect of you.. The ocean, coastline, ranges, springs, creeks, beaches and gorges form a major part of their ongoing spiritual life and wellbeing, so please remember this during your time in Palyadi Manu.