Noongar name push for Lake Monger

Ian Wilkes leads a Galup storytelling performance. Photo by Poppy van Oorde-Grainger.

LAKE MONGER may be officially known by its traditional name Galup in recognition of the site’s significance to Whadjuk Noongars.

Noongar elders Liz Hayden, Glenda Kickett, Lois May and Ted Wilkes recently met with Cambridge town councillors and staff to make the case for calling the lake Galup, which means a place of home fires. 

The elders were joined by the creators of the Galup storytelling project, Ian Wilkes (son of Ted Wilkes) and filmmaker Poppy van Oorde-Grainger. 

Mr Wilkes had often heard stories of Galup from his father, who told him of a massacre that occurred there in 1830. 

Colonist records state the commandant of the Swan River Colony’s 63rd regiment Frederick Irwin led soldiers to track down a group of more than 40 Noongars who they considered “very troublesome”.

“Several of the detachment 63rd Regt were wounded with spears… [and] 30 or 40 of the natives were kill’d or wounded.”

Irwin’s own report denied any killing took place, and he said he went looking unsuccessfully for bodies the following day.

The story formed the centrepiece of the Galup project, with an oral history from elder Doolann Leisha-Eatts adapted into an in-person performance for the 2021 Perth Festival. Ms Leisha-Eatts died in March 2022, just months before her Galup histories were recreated as a virtual reality experience (“VR turns dream to reality,” Voice, June 25, 2022).

Ms van Oorde-Grainger tells us that from the start of the storytelling project they’d sought to “increase awareness of the significance and history of Galup”, via means like a memorial or renaming.

The site was a source of stone and ochre, and a hunting ground and campsite for Aboriginal people, and was likely used as far back as 47,000 years ago.

Cambridge councillor Gary Mack proposed the motion to investigate either the “renaming, or dual naming of Lake Monger to an appropriate Whadjuk Noongar name”, and it was unanimously supported by councillors at the March 28 meeting.

Colonists renamed the area “Monger’s Lake” after an early settler, but the Noongar name Galup was recorded by colonists at least as early as 1833.

The council will have a round of public comment on the name change, and a report goes back to councillors for a decision.


One response to “Noongar name push for Lake Monger

  1. It would enrich our City so much to have those millennia-aged names, rather than the newly imposed names that were imported. I’m constantly amazed at the generosity of the Elders when, after all they’ve been through, they simply suggest we go back to the original names. Please please please let this happen.

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