Moora – 1930s

In 1930, following complaints from property owners adjoining the Walebing reserve, A.O. Neville, the Chief Protector, ordered the Noongar residents to move to Moore River Native Settlement. Already forced out of Moora, the Walebing residents refused to leave, claiming they ‘would not find work and would be forced to give up their dogs and horses’.[xix]

The Depression and declining rural economy caused vast unemployment, with Noongars the first to be laid off work. It forced them to rely more on rations, and to be subjected to increasing powers of the police and the Aborigines Department.[xx]

In 1932, Neville applied pressure on Noongar residents camped at Walebing to move to Moore River Native Settlement by restricting rations but they still refused to go. The risk of starvation eventually forced Noongar people to walk from Walebing to Moora where they asked the police ‘for rail passes to Moore River Native Settlement. These were refused so they then had to walk there’.[xxi]

By 1933 the Aboriginal population at Moore River Native Settlement had risen to over 500; while the funds allocated to run the camp had decreased. This flowed on to the amount and quality of food, leading to greater deterioration in the conditions experienced by Noongar inmates.[xxii]

In 1936, Neville again prohibited camping at Walebing in an effort to stop Noongar residents harbouring female escapees from Moore River Native Settlement.[xxiii] The ‘escapees’ were young Noongar girls making their way home to see their families. Despite the pressure, some Noongars remained there, as it was a significant camping place.[xxiv]

Start of page