Elder Doolann Leisha Eatts talks about her Grandmother’s story of contact with the Europeans
Elder Doolan Leisha Eatts
My grandmother said that they overheard their people talking about this strange something out in the ocean and so they wanted to see this thing out in the ocean. And ‘er and ‘er sister and brother snuck away from their mum and dad and they got on the high hill at Kings Park and they saw this thing out in the ocean. Later they learned it was a big ship with its white sails sittin’ on the water and as they were watching it they saw the little boat come away from the ship. And it came down the Swan River, they were followin’ it, it was towing a barge and it had four things tied up on the barge and these things were real live things, they movin’ their head and she said they were the frightenest lookin’ things they’ve ever seen. And so they came down and where the old Swan Brewery was that was the unloading post there, they’d unload their cargo there, see up and down this little boat was going up and down. And she said they was watchin’ they saw this man untie these things and these things were upset, jumpin’ around. And so they ran back to their mum and dad, you know, they said “Kaman djinang nidja, nyidiyang maam barang djinaniny waam ngarniny nguluk’. What they were sayin’ is “Come and have a look at these things, we think these white men brought these things out ‘ere to eat us.” And so they came down and they ‘ad a look at those things.
Their dad said “Those things are called horses. They brought them things out here to ride.” And so they went back home to their camp. And my grandma said “Yeah” she realized they did brought ’em for ride because couple a days after they heard the horses galloping and galloping coming closer and closer to the camp. And she heard her mother sayin’ “Kert-kert koorliny, kert-kert koorliny!” and she grabbed ‘er and ‘er sister and she runned into the thick bush away from their camp. And ‘er dad grabbed their brother and runned away. And they heard all this bang bang bang bang bang. They heard the scream and shout and cry. And my grandmother said she went to scream and cry too and ‘er mother grabbed ‘er by the mouth and held ‘er down in the bush and they laid in the tall grass in the bush.
Then they heard the horses galloping away. And they went to the camp there and some of the others were sneaking back from the bush too. And the ones that didn’t get away was slaughtered, laying dead, shot. Grandmother remembered her mum and dad, and others who came back got these long rails and tied ’em together with the long grass and put their bodies on rail and dragged them their bodies down the bottom of Koombah Kaarl Koombah Kaat, Northeast of Kings Park, I believe there where the Bayview Flats stands. It wasn’t steep like that now, it was just a — you know, you could walk down it and up it. And they buried ’em there ’cause the ground was soft but they put a lot of stones on top so that the animals won’t dig ’em out. And they moved camp because they do that when they have a death in the camp, that was their policy, you know, their culture.
And they moved up, further up to Lake Monger. They wasn’t far from the water there and just on evening, just sundown, it was sundown, and they heard the horses coming gallop again. And it was just getting dark. And the horses coming galloping. And they sing out “Kert-kert koorliny, kert-kert koorliny!” They were all ready this time and on the lookout. They started running everywhere. Their mum and dad grab them and they run down the left side of Lake Monger and they kept going, right down, they never stopped ’til they got to where there was a lot of thick bush. A lot of the young people had run into the lake to hide in the bush. And you know what, they circled the lake on horseback, and they couldn’t get out of the lake. And they was riding round and round the lake. And they were Redcoats. And there was one fellow there, ‘e was tall and strong and ‘e knew how to throw spear, he was very good at throwing a spear.
And ‘e had a spear in ‘is hand and ‘e looked around and ‘e saw this bloke on horseback comin’ up to ‘im, chasin’ ‘im. And so ‘e stopped to throw the spear at him, but the bloke beat ‘im on the draw and blew ‘alf his face away. And of course he died after that, but that was one of the sad events that happened there. The redcoats camped around the lake that night, they made fires around the lake, the soldiers, the troopers, and they got reinforcement too, as well. And they was awake all night, they said at daybreak we’ll go in and shoot ’em out, they won’t get out. So at daybreak they went in, altogether from different angles. Rode into the lake and they couldn’t find anyone. They weren’t aware of it, early hours of the morning while they were still talking, my people snuck out under their nose and got away. Yeah so, my grandmother said they travelled away from Kings Park and Lake Monger – they started to hide then, they knew it was very serious and they now realized the redcoats were shooting them out.
From: Doolann Leisha Eatts interview for South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council, 17 January 2007
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Note: In some cases the written transcript has been edited with permission from the person interviewed and may differ slightly from the audio recording.
Permission to use this audio recording kindly granted by Elder Doolann Leisha Eatts