Oyster Harbour Fish Trap Site


City of Albany

Place Number



North End of Oyster Harbour, 10km NE of Albany, Albany

Location Details

Other Name(s)

Albany Fish Traps

Local Government



Great Southern

Construction Date

Demolition Year


Statutory Heritage Listings

Type Status Date Documents
Heritage List Adopted 27 Oct 2020

Heritage Council Decisions and Deliberations

Type Status Date Documents
RHP - Does not warrant assessment Current 10 Sep 2004

Other Heritage Listings and Surveys

Type Status Date Grading/Management
Register of the National Estate Permanent 29 Sep 1981
Municipal Inventory Adopted 30 Jun 2001 Category A
Local Heritage Survey Adopted 27 Oct 2020 Exceptional

Statement of Significance

Wattierup/Oyster Harbour Fishtraps have cultural heritage significance for the following reasons: The place is an important reminder of the traditional Menang Noongar way of life prior to the arrival of British colonists to Albany in 1826 and which continued to be valued by the traditional owners to the present day. The place represents the traditional owners’ skills and techniques in sustainable food harnessing and environmental management.

Physical Description

Wattierup/Oyster Harbour Fishtraps are located at the north end of Miaritch/Oyster Harbour – at the end of Barameda Rd - between the mouth of the King and Kalgan Rivers approximately 8km NE of Albany. The Wattierup/Oyster Harbour Fishtraps consist of eight semi circles of low loose stone walls along the north shore of Miaritch/Oyster Harbour, which is backed by a steep hill. Six of these semi circles are located adjacent to the Barameda Road turning circle with the eighth and ninth several hundred metres further west. The walls are wedge shaped in section involving up to three of four layers of stone and at their highest reach 40cm. The stone used is a dark lateritic material found naturally in the area. Some walls are collapsed in places and represented by a scatter of stones. The stones are more widely scattered in the shallows nearer the shore, compared with the denser lines of up to three or four stones in height which occur near the gap; this may reflect a pattern of construction related to water depth. A board walk with a lookout at the end has been constructed at the site to manage visitor flow and access to the fragile environment and also includes interpretation material on the fish traps.


Wattierup/Oyster Harbour Fishtraps were built by the Menang Noongar to catch fish at low tide. The traps were noted by Captain George Vancouver on his visit to the area in 1791 and by Lieutenant Parker King in 1818. King noted ‘the crescent shapes, towards the sea; they were formed by stones placed so close to each other as to prevent the escape, as the tide ebbed, of such fish as had passed over at high water’. Other commentators in the early years of the 19th century describe fish traps of brushwood or timber. It has been suggested that the stone and timber fish traps were used together. The brushwood pens were where the aboriginals herded the fish after trapping so that they could be speared at their leisure. No accounts describe the stone traps in use so it is unclear whether the traps were in use at the time of white settlement. At present the traps are the subjects of a management plan with suggestions/recommendations being made by local Aboriginal groups for their use as a site for cultural tourism. A boardwalk and lookout have been constructed as part of this to manage visitor flow and access to the fragile environment and also includes interpretation material on the fish traps. Others have expressed an interest in restoring one of the eight weirs to working order to use it to demonstrate traditional practice.


Integrity: High/Moderate Authenticity: High/Moderate




Ref ID No Ref Name Ref Source Ref Date
"Oyster Harbour F ishtraps Management Proposal". Albany Division of Aboriginal Affairs Department 1999
Heritage TODAY Site visit and Assessment 1999

State Heritage Office library entries

Library Id Title Medium Year Of Publication
9731 Great Southern strategic plan for Maritime heritage tourism. The story of the sea in the South. Report 2010

Place Type

Other Aboriginal Site


Epoch General Specific
Original Use OTHER Other
Present Use OTHER Other

Construction Materials

Type General Specific
Wall STONE Local Stone

Historic Themes

General Specific

Creation Date

11 Jul 1988

Publish place record online (inHerit):


Last Update

13 Sep 2023


This information is provided voluntarily as a public service. The information provided is made available in good faith and is derived from sources believed to be reliable and accurate. However, the information is provided solely on the basis that readers will be responsible for making their own assessment of the matters discussed herein and are advised to verify all relevant representations, statements and information.