Heritage

Culture Survives Colonisation: Perth's Indigenous History

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There was no collective name for the many different groups of Indigenous Australians until the British colonists began to call them “Aborigines”. Today the term “Indigenous Australians” is used to refer to both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Aboriginal people lived in the area now known as Perth for tens of thousands of years before British settlement. The original inhabitants of the South West region of Western Australia, which includes Perth, are the Noongar people.

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From Struggling Colony to Thriving City: A Brief History of Perth

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Dutch captain Willem de Vlamingh was the first European to explore Western Australia. He landed on Rottnest Island in 1696, naming it “rats nest” because he thought the island’s iconic quokkas were giant rats. In early 1697, he sailed up the Swan River, naming it after the black swans. However, de Vlamingh had a largely unfavourable opinion of the land and the Dutch were more focused on trade at the time, so settlement did not occur until after British Captain James Stirling’s visit in 1827.

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