‘The fire flickered in the darkness on the river bank on
that morning of September 6th 1861. Shadowy shapes moved around it as the first
signs of approaching daylight appeared in the east. As the last stars faded the
first pale streaks in the sky illuminated the bearded faces of the men
breakfasting around the campfire, reflecting off the surface of the waterhole
behind them. The men ate hungrily and quickly.
Gold Dust and Iron Mountains. Hugh Edwards
Why learn about history? Someone once said 'Those who do not learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat it.' So perhaps we should pay a bit more attention to history and stop making the same mistakes over and over again.
Welcome to the living guide to Western Australia, past and present. We refer to this as a living guide because it continues to be updated and corrected and unlike a book (that always remains the same) this guide is constantly changing.
Western Australia's history is not just about dates, facts and figures. History is the story of how we got to where we are today. It is about events ‘writ large’ and it is about the unknown, unsung heroes, who lived anonymous, but never-the-less important lives and who all contributed to making life in Western Australia possible for people unaccustomed to its harshness.
Today we live in a world of computers,
refrigerators, air-conditioning, cars, clean drinking water and electricity. We
are (in most cases) quite disconnected from nature and if we were placed in the
same position as the early pioneers, few of us could survive. How many people
today could head off into the outback with some basic tools, a few bags of
flour, tea and sugar and not only survive, but build a home and work the land?
This is what the first settlers had to face, not only a harsh environment, but
also the threat of being attacked by angry Aborigines whose land was being taken
This site is not an important history work in it’s own right. We have researched no facts that are not already contained in numerous books. We have added nothing new to the sum of knowledge about Western Australia but what we have tried to do is bring together all the major information and combine it with personal glimpses of life in the early days of exploration and put it in a form that is easily accessible to the modern world which relies so heavily on computers.
More than just our history
There is much more than just our history included in this guide. There are all sorts of interesting and useful information pages on everything from how to hire a motor home for just a dollar a day, to our amazing flora and fauna. There is a fishing section for those who enjoy dropping a line in the water and information and photos of caravan parks and campsites across the state. We are gradually adding information on National Parks and other places of interest and as we travel we are including photos and short videos of many areas.
There are currently over 9,000
photographs and many video clips from all round the state included on this site.
Teachers please note
We encourage teachers to get their students interested in our history and we would be very happy if schools wanted to research information for their particular area to add to this guide. Full credit plus pictures of the teachers and students can easily be added as due to the format we have decided on, we have virtually no restrictions or size limits to what can be added. Anyone sending in digital photos for the guide please ensure they are adequately labelled so we know exactly what the pictures are of. We can accept any digital images that can be read by an MS Windows based computer. Please ensure to include written permission for the photos to be included in this guide.
We are lucky that much of the development
of Western Australia coincided with the development of photography and that we
can see in the old photos what the land and towns were like from the mid 1800s.
We can also look into the faces of those who explored and opened up the land and
see that they too were ordinary people living their lives as best they could -
just like us.
We do not touch on Aboriginal history in Western Australia prior to European settlement in this guide in any great detail. It is my belief that it is for the Aborigines to tell their own history in their own way.
Tall tales are anecdotes associated with a specific area. They may be true, or they may just be plausible but most are entertaining stories that add character to a specific town or region. Where we find these tales we are adding them to the guide to help preserve aspects of our history that may otherwise be lost. If you have any anecdotes that are at least reasonably believable about towns in W.A., please send us a copy to include in this guide.
Copyright and copying
This guide and all the colour photographs not otherwise credited and MPG or WMV video clips remain the property of Marc Glasby, Rosabelle Glasby, Dorothy Loader (c) 2013 unless otherwise noted. All rights reserved.
Western Australian State Libraries and Western Australian State High Schools are granted permission to make copies of this site for loan and study purposes only.
When reading history books or visiting museums beware of 'Facts'
Anyone interested in history (and especially those who take up the subject academically) should be more than aware that history books are not always right. We are constantly making corrections to this book as new information is uncovered. Just because something is written down in a book does not necessarily mean that it is correct. We have found all sorts of inconsistencies, errors and omissions during our own research. Even such lauded institutions as the State Museum can get things terribly wrong at times.*
* This refers to the Museum's display concerning the 'massacre' at Forrest River for which there is no corroborating evidence. (Rod Moran's book 'Sex, Maiming and Murder' gives an in depth view of how badly this particular event has been misrepresented by eminent historians.)
Unfortunately for serious students of history, oral traditions of recording history such as those used by the Aborigines are inherently unreliable. Folk lore tends to become mixed with fact and in many cases even the facts can become wildly exaggerated as they have been with the Battle of Pinjarra. Even European written records may not always tell the whole story about some incidents as it may not have been politically acceptable to record some of the dark deeds that occurred in the state's history.
My only advice is to read as many sources as possible to confirm the things that happened in our past and to never take anything you read at face value - including what is contained in this guide.
Many town names are taken from the Aboriginal dialect of
tribes who lived in the particular area. As the Aboriginal people had no written
language there are often several alternate ways of spelling a particular word.
To avoid confusion, waste of space and even worse, boredom, I have selected what
seems to be the most often used spelling and interpretation of the original
Many details list areas as first being settled on certain dates.
It should be
remembered that this information only applies to European settlement and that
Aboriginal tribes have inhabited most areas of W.A. for thousands of years. What
was seen as settlement by the Europeans was a full-scale invasion to the
HEMA Map References
We have chosen to include HEMA
map references for towns in W.A. as HEMA maps are reasonably priced and widely
available across Australia. This is not meant as any particular endorsement but
HEMA maps are reasonably detailed and we use them ourselves to navigate around
W.A. The references used are taken from the Australia Road Atlas. Some towns may
not be included on the maps but the reference given shows where they are
Statistics & Services in subject pages