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Perth Airport to display Indigenous artefacts after runway find

written by Jake Nelson | November 27, 2023

The proposed location of Perth Airport’s new runway. (Image: Perth Airport)

Perth Airport will display Indigenous artefacts uncovered during the construction of its new runway.

The small stone chips, which were found at a depth of around two metres in archaeological digs undertaken in preparation for the project, will be displayed following consultation with traditional Whadjuk custodians. It is estimated the fragments could be up to 40,000 years old.

According to Perth Airport acting CEO Kate Holsgrove, the runway’s proposed site is near the Munday Swamp wetlands, which would have been extensively used by Indigenous people before European colonisation.

“We have gone to great lengths to ensure the culturally significant Munday Swamp is protected for future generations. So, it made sense for us to go further in our efforts to understand if our heritage salvage plans for the areas outside of the swamp were as robust and comprehensive as they could be,” she said.

“We wanted to give the Whadjuk traditional custodians and the community a sense of confidence that any artefacts would be treated sensitively and respectfully.


“The scientific dating of the find confirms what we already knew about Indigenous people using this area as part of their travel paths but gives us a better understanding of how far back in time these practices stretch.”

The airport has engaged an archaeological heritage consultant who previously assisted with the recovery of artefacts from the Fiona Stanley Hospital site, and has reviewed its heritage management plans.

“We will also employ local Whadjuk families to oversee the recovery of any items and will work with them to ensure any artefacts are handled properly,” said Holsgrove.

“We are also looking for an opportunity to appropriately display any artefacts, similar to the approach taken by the Fiona Stanley Hospital.”

Perth Airport hopes to have its new runway operational by the end of the decade.

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