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Aboriginal Perth

By Daisy M. Bates.

PERTH in 1829 was not. The tangle

of tree and scrub and swamp that covered hill and slope and valley was the Kalleep (fireplace, "hearth," "home") of a section of the great Bibbulmun race that occupied the whole of the South West, from beyond Jurien Bay, near Geraldton, to Esperance—the largest homogeneous group in all Australia. The residents of the Kalleep were Kalleep- gur, "home people" or "townies," who wandered hither and thither over their group areas at all seasons of the year, visiting their relatives at Northam, Toojie (Toodyay), Gingin, or towards Pinjarra and Bunbury, according to the time of year when the special totem food product of such group was in season.

As the Bibbulmun had but two funda- mental divisions, Manitchmat and Wor- dungmat—into either of which everyone entered at birth—all were kin in "blood" or "in-law" to each other from Esperance to Jurien Bay. All manitchmat (white Cockatoo people) were of one blood, were Moorurt (blood relations) and therefore could not marry; and all Wordungmat (crow people) were blood kin to each other and could not inter- marry. White Cockatoo married Crow, and Crow married White Cockatoo, and in all the groups there was no other legal marriage than this. A simple law in itself, but one that kept the groups strong and healthy, producing on an average about six in each family, and thriving and fighting and dancing and hunting their way through life until one fine morning in 1829 Yalgunga or Ngal- gunga, who was camped with his family at his Gooni-ninnup spring and Kal (fire, home) looked up and saw the first Brit- isher that stood on the soil that is now Perth : young Lieutenant Irwin.

Gooin-innup was either the spring at what is now Crawley, or the spring that was on the site of the first Old Men's Depot, and was a favourite camp of Yalgunga's because all along the estuary shore the goonok and jilgi were always plentiful in their season. The estuary was called darbal, and those whose camps were on the estuary were called darbalung estuary people.

The Swan River was beela (river only)   but every point, hill, slope, gully or flat from the beela's source to its mouth, had its name. And though the little family groups who owned camping grounds along the beela called them- selves beel-gur river people, and the estuary groups called themselves darba- lung—all were Kalleepgur-home people,


Let us take a walk along the old Kal- leep of 1829 that is now the new Perth of 1929.

We can start from Gurdan'dalup (the present Crawley) passing along through Katam'burdup (Gallop's old place) and the swamps and flats between, all of which had their special name—Goolillup, Burna-warranup, Beenyup ("beena," "beenja" means "swamp") where the goorok were so plentiful and where the Wai-en (crane) would stand on one leg and call out to the goonok—Moor- daitch! Moordaitch! Wat-'gool wat-'gool; goonyok! goonyok! yoo-al-gul, yoo-al- 'gool" (hard one! hard one! go away; go away. Soft one! soft one, come here, come here) and the little Bibbulmun children would mimic Wai-en in their play.

At the foot of Mooro, the point of the Katta or hill (Mt. Eliza), sometimes called Katta-Moor, crabs were plenti- ful and many a crabbing party of women and children took place at Mooro, the men considering it beneath their dig- nity to go crabbing. And near Mooro was Goonin-in'nup with its beautiful bubbling spring, the first gift of the black man to the white.

As we pass by the hollow where the old banana gardens were afterwards planted we stand near a spot that was the scene of many a kangaroo battue in Bibbulmun days. The Kallaep-gur chas- ed the Yong-gar and Warr male and female kangaroo over the beautiful spot that is now King's Park, driving the animals with shouts and yells into the hollow, which was a veritable cul de sac. At its foot were other Kalleep- gur ready with spear and club to give the killing blow. There was no escape for the animals that tumbled into the hollow, and there was much feasting and fighting, and furstring and skin cloak- making after a Yong-gar-a-Kaabin (kan- garoo battue). The next camp was Goo'yamulyup, named after the big croaking frogs (Gool'yar or Koo'yarr) that made night hideous at times, but were welcome additions to the Bibbul- mun larder.

Karr'galup or Karrgata was the name given to a camping place that lay be- tween a great gum tree by Goonin- innup (did Irwin's boat crew sit down under this great tree in 1829, while young Irwin and Ngal'gung-a gaz- ed at each other across the ages?) and the old police station which I think was near the present deanery. I am often asked the meaning of Karrgata and usually give the two native meanings obtained from old Balbuk—the last Kal- leepgur of what is now Perth, and her mother's brother Joobaitch. Kara-spid- er, Karrgatup—place or hole of spider,   and Karr-species of crab. Up means "place of."

Near Queen Victoria's statue in King's Park there used to be a large hollow tree which conserved rain water, and close to the tree, an ancestor of Balbuk's had been buried. The tree and vicinity were called Gabbi-Kalga (Kalga—a spec- ies of blackboy tree; gabbi, water). Both grandmothers of Balbuk have fine monu- ments. One lies buried beneath Bishop's Grove, the residence of Perth's first great Archbishop; the other lies beneath Gov- ernment House.

Where the Roman Catholic cathedral and buildings now stand was Wid'do- goo'togup and the slopes between the hill and Perth station were Yandigup. Boo'jooruieup was a big swamp full of all kinds of food, now turned into Palm- erston and Lake streets, and not far away we come to a place that later be- came Gallup's property, its native name being the longest in the Bibbulmun lan- guage, Goon'garnul'nyar'rimup. Goon- derup, where also fine edible bulbs and roots grew, is now a Redemptorist Monas- tery. One wonders how many rare orchids lived and throve and were eaten out by the ancient Bibbulmun. From the high land above Hay-street west to lower Hay-street was Bi'ab'bulup and Maalujup and Wal'yinup were later turn- ed into a Chinaman's garden at North


We are not walking in a straight line, for neither track nor road nor path in Bibbulmun country ran straight, and we turn off east or west or north or south for the something special in the way of food that is there just then.

Baibuk was born at what later became "Hooper's Fence"—native name Woorur- dup; her mother had been born on the goorda (island) between the railway bridge and the Causeway. Births took place quickly and suddenly amongst these palaeolithic people, and whatever occupation was going on at the time was resumed in an hour or so after the birth. Ju'albup afterwards became Dyson's swamp, and an Irish name Glendalough succeeded the old Bibbulmun name Goobab'bilup. There was an old red ochre pit in this vicinity which her father had given to Balbuk, and ever afterwards Balbuk claimed payment for any wilgi (ochre) taken from her Wilgi-


Mr. Hardy's old home somewhere near the recreation ground was called Koori- jup, Goomap being the recreation ground


The island near Burswood was Yoon- derup. I think this island was Balbuk's mother's birthplace. Ma'ta- garup—literally "leg deep"—was the old native fording place where the Causeway now stands. Joorolup was the other side of Ma'ta-garup—going to- wards Minderup (South Perth). The rushes below the late G. Shenton's house in South Perth were called Goor'gugu— a sound very closely resembling our word "gurgling," which we would apply to the sound of the water among the rushes. If Shenton's Mill is to be kept intact, its old native name—Kareenup—might be given to the site. It was Kareen's fav- ourite camp, and he and his brother Beenan were the two last South Perth


A Native Camp at Crawley in the very early days of Perth. The

cloaks are of kangaroo skin.

Bibbulmen. Beenan's camping place was on the Melville water side. Beenan was buried by Bishop Gibney at Goobabbilup (Glendalough). Gabbi Kow'an-gulup was Beenan's Kallup, and is the estuary or mouth (?) of Canning River; a little above the mouth was Waw'-gur-jup Kow'an-gulup may have been derived from Kowain—laughing—but Kowain also means "floating." A free transla- tion might make it "Laughing Water."

Gu'yag'gerup was a white sandpatch on the Melville water side of Kareenup. Many Mung-gaitch trees (honey-bearing banksias) grew in the vicinity, and when the honey flowers ripened the soak at Guyag'gerup was widened, and into it the Bibbulmun men, women and chil- dren threw the honey-laden flowers, afterwards drinking the sweetened water which probably slightly fermented. Ka- reen and Beenan were Mung-gaitch to- temists, and their friends visited them in great numbers during the Mung-gaitch season. They drank from a small yorla (bark vessel) or from shells.

Think of the numbers of Kalleepgur gathered round Kareenup, fighting and dancing and drinking, while their "honey beer" lasted, and realise that the very last of all these Kalleepgur died twenty two years ago, when old Balbuk and Joobaitch passed out.

Mar'radungup is now called Point Walter, and a place known to the early white settlers as Pigeon Swamp was Mar'gamongup.

A "white house" on the road to Fre- mantle was built near a point called Joondalup, and the site of the old public

house near the old Fremantle Bridge was called Dwerda Weelardi'nup, from dweida-"singo." Balbuk's oldest grand- father was eaten by fishes at this spot, having fallen into the water when drunk. Manjarip, the old Fremantle tunnel, and Walyulyup, the point near Fremantle old jetty, were old camping places. There were many other camps and food

grounds, and special goonok and other water foods that I could not identity, but all were in the "Kaleep" of the Bibbulmun in 1829. Boo'ganung, Kooli- Kooli (were there Kooli or sheoaks growing in the vicinity of Perth or Fre- mantle?), Mang-'gaga, Min'nulu, Kub'- berdu, Warru-binjerup (a swampy   place), Mar'rala, Mak'kala, Joon'buga, Yel-'yar-wara-these were all on the east or hill side of the beela (Swan River). Kar'bungga, Kar'dunmba, Jee'-juru, Bee- dalup, Beer'alain (Bayswater), Nyee' barup, and Gedalup were within the metropolitan area. Murdalup is now the old East Perth Cemetery site, and Jin- n'ong-odderup became Henley Park in

after days.

Yagan, whose head is now in the Bri-

tish Museum, was shot by a white boy.   He had committed some offence, and a reward had been offered for his cap- ture, but he was killed in self-defence by the young lad. His kalleep was on the Perth side of Guildford, along the banks of the beela (Swan River). Molij, Weeban, Molya'dobin, Mikitch and Joobalung were Yagan's blood kin. and their camps were free to each other. Ngoonaitch, Joobaitch's uncle—Joo- baitch died in 1907—he had been born "in Stirling's time"—owned Beeralain (Bayswater) and Bassendean. His brother Moondi could not be reconciled to the Jang-ga (white people), nor could Bau'yowela—these two being in constant trouble with the police. Joo- loon's camp was near Widdo-gootogup and Narral, Balbuk's grandfather had his camp near Goordan'dalup. His name must go back into the 18th century, as Balbuk was nearing 70 when she died

in 1907.

Now it is night-night indeed for the Bibbulmun race—and our ramblings are over and we sit by the fire and hear the folk lorists' tales of magic and witch- craft; of the powers of woggae (magic snake) and the jang-ga, and the spirits who returned from the dead and lived in the eaves and shelters and were sulky always, torturing many whom they caught by half cooking them and mak- ing them alive again and again for their sport; of standing stones and rocks that held the spirits of little babies waiting for the mothers to come to them; and of the birds and beasts that spoke Bib- bulmun speech, and helped or hindered as the case might be. Kower, the red parrot, showed the Bibbulmun how to make fire, and the dried flower stems of the balga (blackboy tree) with which he drilled the fire were called kower- duk ever afterwards by the Kalleepgur whom Kower had taught.

And the stories and legends of the totems. How greedily I listened to Joo- baitch and Balbuk (his niece) when they spoke of their old kaleep totem which was the yong-gar (male kangaroo), the warr (female) being the women's totem. The Jaug-ga Yong-gar (spirit kangaroo) watched over his totem, and saw that all kept his totem laws, and did not destroy the babies as young ones in the   pouch and abstained from their totem food when a yong-gar borung-gur (kan- garoo brother) totemist died.  

How many legends have vanished that might have thrown light upon the origins of the Bibbulmun, the most ancient of Australian aborigines!

After some hours of folklore and when we rose to go to our respective "kal" (fires), no one dared leave the place until he had taken a firestick for pro- tection. All jangga were powerless against fire, and so we go through the bush with our lighted torches, flitting in and out among the trees, jumping at the slightest sound, and ready to throw our firestick in any direction from where an unusual noise might come. As white settlement advanced, the na- tive roots and foods, the animal and other totems disappeared and the Bibbulmun believed that they also must disappear as "the totem always went first." Any Yongai-borung-gur who came upon a dying or dead kangaroo   went back to his kal and turning on his side he followed his totem to Kuran- nup, the heaven of the Bibbulmun that lay beyond the Great Western Sea.