Guildford – 1920s

As a result of the government’s agricultural development programs, town reserves became the focus of the Noongar way of life. This had many negative effects on Noongar people, eroding our traditional practices and culture. Yet, historian Anna Haebich wrote that: ‘Related families frequently visited between reserves, sharing companionship, food and entertainment’… ‘Dances, accompanied by a piano accordion, were often held around the camp fires at the reserves’.[xvi]

In 1921, the Repatriation Department claimed Hamersley’s Pyrton Estate to convert to farms for returned soldiers. Pyrton Estate had been an important camping site for local Noongar people, and this created conflict when they were forced to leave.[xvii] Before the reclamation, Noongars had moved into the Guildford area each year for the grape and fruit picking season. They camped on the Pyrton Estate, and family and friends from the Beechboro and Lockridge camps often visited on weekends.’ Other camps included Guildford Bridge; Middle Swan Bridge; Upper Swan Bridge; Copely Road, Upper Swan; Jane Brook, Middle Swan; Benara Road area; and near the Helena River Bridge.[xviii]

In 1928, William Harris, a leader and civil rights advocate, led a deputation to the Premier of W.A., calling on the State Government to repeal the 1905 Act. Harris had been a private pupil at the “Swan Native and Half-Caste Mission” in Perth. He was a significant campaigner for Aboriginal civil rights and fought for over 22 years for Noongar people affected by the restrictions of the 1905 Act.[xix]

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