Journey by Dawn

Drone Tango at COTTESLOE BEACH: double-folded history in the present [YouTube video]

My little mini-Mavic from DJI drone is quite good for filming in all types of situations, but winds are not one of them!  Since I moved to Perth, I have been looking for a windless day to fly the drone at this beautiful and famous beach – which happens to be just a short drive from my home. I was lucky to find it so deserted from people and wind last week!

After doing a little Google search I found this beach has an amazing double history – like so many locations in Australia. Here are some interesting things I found.

Crow Man’s predictions

Traditionally this place belonged to the Nyungar Australian Aboriginal people. Among them, there was a sorcerer who was said to have to ability to transform himself from a man into a crow. When the storms would approach the so-known Crow Man would announce this to the people by a loud screeching of the sound (as the one of the black cockatoo) and excite the movements of the ants. This would indicate to the Aboriginal people that the storms are coming. I can totally understand how important it is to be aware of the weather predictions as living in the nearby suburb, I have experienced how violent the winter storms can get.

It was common at that time to move inland for safety.


The coming storms – view from the Cottesloe pier


The waters at Cottesloe beach on a peaceful evening

Shark dreaming

The formation of limestone rocks just before the pier also have a story, as they were believed to be associated with ‘shark dreaming’. Sharks for the Australian Aboriginals are a symbol of bravery, large mythological creatures, seen as spirits of creation and destruction, were to be revered and feared. The shark was respected as a spirit from the other world, deep under the ocean. It was possibly for this reason that the Nyungar people (the local Aboriginals of this area) did not eat sharks like other tribes in Australia.


Reference: ‘The Shark in Nyungar Culture’ and ‘Indigenous significance of the Mudrup Rocks, Cottesloe’.


First European settlements

The first Europeans are known to have arrived in 1697 and it was only 132 years later that the first settlement was made. Cottesloe Beach was named in 1886 in honor of the brother of Captain C.H. Fremantle (makes sense since Fremantle is just about 15 min drive south from Cottesloe).


The tractor ‘footsteps’ – as the beaches get cleaned after messy storms

The community grew, churches were built, schools opened. Sport and leisure activities became popular. It is interesting to note that two very important women lived in the area: Dr. Roberta Jull who was the first Western female Australian doctor and Elizabeth Clapham – the first woman elected to local government.

The great depression in the 1930s closed the beach businesses completely (just as the coronavirus in 2020!). During World War II Cottesloe was a center for the war effort, army camps erected in the golf course nearby, and even refugees were billeted in many of the larger homes.

The brighter days

1980 was a vibrant time for Cottesloe as America’s Cup and a series of yacht races improved the overall economy, leading to the building and renovating the houses with beach views. This also leads to it’s growing reputation and current popularity.

Heritage-listed houses tour

The Government website of Cottesloe pointed to several heritage listed houses – that I thought would be worth taking a look. Here is what I found:


The flour mill – built in 1938 (now an apartment building)

15 Brasdan st

Trafalgar house – built in 1914

109 Broome (b)

Overton lodge now called Cottesloe Civic Centre – built in 1950

3 congdon

Bungalow built in 1915 (in the Queen Anne manner)

5 Cogdon

Intact bungalow (built in the Queen Anne manner)

Reference: ‘history of the Town of Cottesloe’

Cottesloe Beach – just one of many!

As I learn more about this city and its double-fold history, I find it so interesting to return to those places to meditate and take in all it holds in the air. Australia may not have been as badly affected by World War II, however, this country carries its own deep wounds, and the beauty of nature and the architecture speaks more than meets the eye.

As I visit sacred Aboriginal sites and locations made popular by historical events, I want to take you with me.

DO subscribe to my YouTube Channel!  That way I know we are walking together! 🙂

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