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"That was my home": Voices from the Noongar camps in Perth's western suburbs

Cook, Denise (2016) "That was my home": Voices from the Noongar camps in Perth's western suburbs. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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Many Noongar people lived in camps throughout the Perth metropolitan area until the 1950s, or even later. These camps, which are relatively unknown in the wider community, are an important part of the shared history of our suburbs. An essential part of researching in this area is following Aboriginal cultural protocols. The ways in which cross-cultural research is undertaken are just as important as the information that is uncovered.

My research explores histories of Noongar camps in Perth’s western suburbs of Fremantle, Swanbourne, Shenton Park, Jolimont and Daglish, focusing on the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s. Although Noongar people were displaced from their land, they continued to live in bush camps on the margins of suburbs, either on vacant Crown land or by arrangement with landowners. Noongar people chose camps because of proximity to extended family, work, water and resources, as well as distance from non-Aboriginal neighbours. Interaction between people in the camps and those in the wider community was generally limited to school, work, and official contact. Today, most Noongar people remember camp life as a positive experience, though others recall hard times.

This thesis comprises a history shaped around people’s stories, photographs and archival information; and an exegesis which examines the literature, interpretation of the camps, and methodological issues.

This research expands our knowledge of the history of Perth. It facilitates more representative community histories, and applies a methodology for crosscultural historical research based around Aboriginal cultural protocols. It also shares and preserves photographs and stories and, through a greater understanding of our past, helps build better relationships in the present.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Arts
Supervisor(s): Trees, Kathryn, Gothard, Jan and Jebb, Mary Anne
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