A new purpose-built meeting place for Noongar people to gather, yarn and share culture will be built in Katanning as part of the shire’s Heritage Centre project, with funding from the Western Australian government announced last Friday.

The centrepiece of the $92,000 meeting place will be a firepit arrangement, covered by an all-weather shelter to allow for gatherings, following a request by the Shire.

Wendy Hayden, a member of the team managing the cultural centre at the site, said the area had long been a gathering place for Noongar people.

“We run a Noongar centre, an arts centre there now, and we wanted to bring back the richness of that meeting place,” she said.

“The firepit is going to be a beautiful icon for the meeting and gathering place.

“Elder Vally Williams said this was a traditional gathering place from a long time ago and the camp was there, it was a children’s place as well.”

Ms Hayden said kaarl (fire) was one of the community’s greatest assets.

“You start a fire and the young people sit around and listen to our old people,” she said.

“I have seen teenagers change their perspective and their thinking and direction after listening and it is just what they needed.”

WA Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan said the new meeting place would provide an opportunity for Noongar people to come together to share their culture.

“In time, the Noongar community may choose to use the new meeting place to share their culture with the wider community or as part of education or tourism opportunities,” she said.

The new asset will add to the WA Government’s $15.72 million Katanning Heritage Centre investment, which includes rejuvenating the town centre, and advancing the Piesse Lake development, including a playground, welcome precinct, botanic garden and recreation area.