In 1826 Major Edmund Lockyer established an army garrison at King George Sound with the intention of building a penal settlement. When he came across the Noongar system of ‘payback’, he was less concerned with building a relationship with local Noongar than he was about imposing British law onto Noongar culture and lore.[ii]

Noongar often led explorers through the region, probably without any idea of the consequences. Our intimate knowledge of the land and its waterways and fresh water was invaluable to the British. Many original walking trails used by Minang Noongar eventually became roads.

Mokare, a Minang Noongar, was a young man in his twenties when he met the British explorers at King George Sound in the mid 1820s. During this early period he was the Noongar the new settlers wrote about most. Mokare was the intermediary, guide and close friend of several of the newcomers to the region, in particular, Captain Collet Barker. Mokare died in June 1831, most likely from influenza – introduced by the Europeans. He was buried close to what is now the Albany Town Hall. On the basis of what Mokare told the Europeans about Noongar culture and language, Isaac Scott Nind published a Noongar vocabulary, and an account of our people, culture and customs. Tools used by Noongar people, and recorded by Nind include:


Most Noongar were wary of initiating contact with the British, but they were curious, judging the “foreigners on individual merit as they saw it”.[iv] In the beginning, there were tentative relationships and the exchange of gifts.[v] However, tensions grew and violence erupted as the settlement of Albany expanded and Europeans made their way further inland, encroaching on resources and taking up Noongar land.

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