Timeline of Aboriginal History of Western Australia - 1629–1829


Aboriginal life in the two centuries from 1629 to 1829, was characterized by the increased presence of Europeans around the Western Australian coastline. First contact, appears to have been characterized by open trust and curiosity, with Aborigines willing to defend themselves against any unwarranted intrusion.

  • See: Territorial evolution of Australia for changes in jurisdiction over the western Australian area.
  • 1629 After the wreck of the Batavia at uninhabited islands, two young mutineers are marooned on the mainland.
  • 1688 William Dampier in the Cygnet, arrives on the northern coast, possibly looking for a Portuguese settlement he may have heard of in the Indies. He describes the Aboriginal people he met as "the most miserable people in the world". Dampier spent time observing the Bardi people at the northern end of Cape Levique.
  • 1699 Return of Dampier in the Roebuck, exploring from Broome to the Pilbara. During this time the Portuguese in Timor raid the Kimberley for Aboriginal slaves.
  • 1712 The Zuytdorp wrecked near Geraldton. Survivors are known to have landed, and the story of their welcome and preservation by local Aborigines was known as far south as Perth 122 years later. A rock carving of what appears to be a Dutch ship has been found at Walga Rock, some 300 kilometers from the coast, up the Murchison River.
  • April 1787 Arthur Phillip, Governor of New South Wales issues instructions to "endeavour by every means possible to open intercourse with the natives, and to conciliate their affections, enjoining all our subjects to live in amity and kindness to them. And if our subjects shall wantonly destroy them, or give them unnecessary interruption in the exercise of their several occupations that you cause such offenders to be punished according to the degree of that offense".
  • 1788 Smallpox and measles arrive with the first fleet on the east coast of Australia and spread across the continent.
  • 1791 George Vancouver entered Albany harbour. He acknowledged the prior ownership of the land by Aboriginal Mineng people, and took possession of the land for the British crown. His act was premature as annexation of the west was not allowed for another thirty five years.
  • 1801 Matthew Flinders visits Western Australia. In King George Sound, although Aboriginal people indicated they did not want Europeans visiting their campsite, amicable relations prevailed and trading occurred. The Aborigines called the Europeans "Djanga", or spirits returned from the dead land of Kurrenup (Karrinyup?), the land beneath the Goomber Wardarn (Sea) in the direction of the setting sun. Flinders so appreciated their friendly behaviour that he gave a special parade of the soldiers under his command. A Kirrenup kening (Noongar "corroboree") was adopted by the local people and performed by aboriginal groups along the south coast for over a century. The Swan River was explored by the French Captain Baudin in the Geographe, and his midshipman Heirisson, gives his name to the area known to the Wadjuk Noongar as Matagadup ("place of leg deep").
  • 1818 The first of Phillip Parker King's voyages to Western Australia. Mineng Nyungar from Albany assisted the sailors in food gathering. King also explored the Cambridge Gulf area of the Kimberley.
  • 1822 King's last voyage. He was welcomed by the Mineng Noongar.
  • 1826 Mokare, one of the Mineng Aboriginal people who later emerged as a key person for the success of early white-Aboriginal relations in Albany, was recorded in d'Urbville's visit of that year. Colbung, ancestor of Aboriginal activist Ken Colbung is also recorded.
  • 25 December 1826 Major Edmund Lockyer, in the brig Amity, takes possession of King George Sound for the crown, at the orders of Governor Darling. On Michaelmas Island he was signalled by an Aboriginal man, who had been abducted and marooned by sealers. These eight sealers led by a certain Bailey, had also killed another man and abducted their women. Randall, another sealer from Tasmania, had also been abducting Aboriginal women, and was arrested by Lokyer. Aboriginal people here expressed their anger at Europeans cutting down trees, but Lokyer chose not to intervene. The Aboriginal site, Kin-gil-yilling is renamed Albany, after the Duke of Albany.
  • 1827 James Stirling, in the Success, anchored off the mouth of the Swan River. Exploring the river he was attacked by Aboriginal people at Claisebrook. Nine years later the Aboriginal people of the area explained that the first party of whites they had seen was the marauding party of Randall. At Jane Brook, another party of Aboriginal men was found (women and children were seen hiding), who mimicked English calls of "How do you do!" and traded spears and womeras for clothing and swans shot by Stirling. Stirling explored as far as Guildford where he commented on the fine alluvial soils. He then sailed south to Albany. Lockyer was eager to return to Sydney with the Success, with Randall, the captive and to get him to stand trial for his crimes of murder and abduction. Stirling reluctantly agreed to allow Lockyer, but refused to allow the sealers and their women on board. They were released from custody, and later left Albany.
  • 1828 Mokkare became friends, sharing the house and food, with the assistant surgeon, Isaac Scott-Nind, in Albany. When Scott-Nind's health deteriorated, Mokkare became companion, guide and advisor to successive commandants, Lieutenant Sleeman, Captain Wakefield and Captain Barker, living with Barker when seasonal fishing brought him to King George Sound. He became an especially good friend of Dr Collie. Mokkare and his brother Nakina, assisted troops recapture runaway convicts, and were given steel tomahawks as a reward.

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