Perceptions of the country
Original inhabitants
Before European contact
First contact with Europeans
After European contact
Native Title Today

After European contact

The consequences to Aboriginal people of contact with the colonists in the Lake Moore to Mongers Lake area, which began with explorers in 1868, followed closely by shepherds and pastoralists, has not yet been recorded for general knowledge. Until the descendants tell their story, we can only assume it follows a simlar pattern to that in other pastoral regions of Western Australia. It is likely that tribal Aboriginal groups were initially displaced from their lands by the European settlers, but later settled on pastoral stations as a labour force. They were able to move about to maintain their Law and their Country in meetings and ceremonies.

Elsewhere in Western Australia there are records and accounts of violent encounters: Europeans stealing women; Aborigines retaliating, spearing or ‘stealing’ stock; reprisal killings; the arrest and gaoling of Aboriginal men on the Rottnest Island Aboriginal Prison; and hangings.

One incident in the area to the north-east of Charles Darwin Reserve was the attempt by A.J. Clinch (the first pastoral leaseholder on Charles Darwin Reserve), to establish a pastoral base near Mt Kenneth just north of Lake Moore around 1881. This was described as unsuccessful owing to the hostility of the Aborigines, a most warlike tribe who in one incident took 2,000 sheep and had Clinch and his offsider barricaded in their hut for two days before they escaped. (A. Palmer Paynes Find 1988, p10)

As pastoral stations became permanent, aboriginal men were employed under strict contract conditions and assigned to a particular station. They became station hands, stockmen and shearers, mostly in return for basic rations, stores and shelter. The women became domestic servants.

They’d do three months here, then move on to the next place for mustering.  Moved around from station to station around the Paynes Find area. Couldn’t get anyone else to do the mustering – they didn’t know the country.  Don Bell, 2006, interview C. Nicholson.

If people were in their own country, they still had access to traditional sites, and time to observe the sometimes long and distant business of maintaining culture and keeping traditional Law alive.

I get wild when people call it ‘walkabout’ when an Aboriginal person leaves work for a while. They think we’re just being lazy. It’s an insult. They don’t understand we have to do important family or ceremonial business. In the old days on the stations they had the big ceremonies when there wasn’t any work to do. Wayne Fogarty 11 March 2007, interview by C.Nicholson

Few white Australians semed to understand the depth and importance of culture and land to its original inhabitants. Iris Vickery was a young bookkeeper who accompanied her father Charlie Vickery, the machine repairer, on his trips around the country. A photo taken about the late 1920s shows her with some Yamatji people, possibly on Ninghan Station. The clothing and demeanour of her fellow subjects in station garb contrasts with the Warrdagga group above, yet they were contemporaries. Her notes on the back of the photo reveal curiosity and interest in the material aspects of ‘corroboree’, but no indication of their meaning. 


Ninghan Station had about 20 resident Badimia in the 1940s when Hugh Barnes was driving the mail truck.

“They loved going up and down (from station to station) on the truck. Five shillings on the back or ten shillings in the front. The kids went to Paynes Find school.
Old Joe Lawson and his wife and six children were at Mt Gibson. They came with me into town one day on top of a load of wool. There was a commotion on the back and I looked around and there was Joe hanging in a tree, hooked up on a branch in his coat epaulettes. It was terribly frightening. I had to back up to get him off. They were still in their tribal ways. Billy Barlow was the head man, he was with the Clarkes at Pullagoroo Station. They bought him a Baby Austin car and a rifle so he could travel around. They were all looked after in a genuine and considerate manner on the stations. All the people that used to be out there are now gone”.

Hugh Barnes, 2006,  interview by C. Nicholson

Old Mac was pretty good to them, says Don Bell, referring to Lindsay Macpherson, manager then owner of Ninghan Station in the 1930s and ‘40s. Don Bell, 2006 interview C. Nicholson

On the other hand, there were places and periods when the Traditional Owners were not so welcome. Ollie George initially expressed surprise and scepticism when Badimia Elders were told in 2004 that they were welcome to come to Charles Darwin Reserve and were invited to visit, inspect and advise on the management of the Aboriginal sites and the land generally.

“Those station bosses used to kick us off - couldn’t go on our own country”. . Ollie George, Badimia Elder, 29 September 2004, interview by C.Nicholson.

The Fogarty brothers tell another story. The owners of Mt Gibson were friendly and encouraged their father to visit the station and its important sites.

There is no record of Aboriginal workers living on Whitewells Station, although Ninghan Station men worked there at times.

The strict enforcement of the successive policies of segregation, assimilation and integration through the powerful Aborigines Act 1905 and Native Welfare regulations in the twentieth century severely curtailed Aboriginal rights. Under the regime of the A.O.Neville, Chief Protector of Aborigines between 1915 and 1940, and then his successors until the 1960s, part-Aboriginal children were taken from their parents and put into mission schools for a ‘white’ education. Born in 1920, part Badimia, part white, Cecil Fogarty would have been at risk of removal.

Dad saw Neville, when he was a child. 'Neville the Devil', he used to call him. Wayne Fogarty 11 March 2007, interview by C.Nicholson

The awarding of equal wages, the vote and citizenship to Aboriginal people in the 1960s was followed by the breakdown of the resident pastoral station communities and movement onto government reserves near towns.
The Badimia are yet to tell their story of life on the stations, the dislocations caused by changing government policies and public attitudes, and their efforts to establish a place in society.

Leah's uncles and two brothers all went to the war. Eight in the extended family went, and another two from the district. They all lined up together, they thought they'd go into the same unit together. They were told 1-2-3 step forward, step back. They were all split up and sent off to different units.

Don Bell, Ninghan Station 2006, interview by C. Nicholson

The Fogartys

The Fogarty families of Dalwallinu are descendents of the Yamatji-Badimia people who were living in the Lake Moore to Mongers Lake region at the time that the first contact was made with white people; the Monger brothers in 1868 and John Forrest in 1869. May, the mother of the Fogarty brothers and sisters was a daughter of Gus Clinch of Coodingnow Station and his Badimia wife. Their late father Cecil spoke for the traditional sites and knew their stories across Charles Darwin Reserve and Mt Gibson. All the brothers were born in Mount Magnet, but the family moved often with their father, who was a shearer and sandalwood harvester. They went to school at Mt Magnet, Paynes Find, Perenjori and Dallwallinu.

Mum and Dad looked after us well, we had no trouble with the Welfare. Dad used to threaten us if we played up: “If you bastards don’t settle down and do what I say I’ll send you to Karalundi”. Wayne Fogarty 11 March 2007, interviewed by C. Nicholson. 

Karalundi was a Seventh-Day Adventist Mission near Meekatharra, now Karalundi Aboriginal Eduction Centre and a boarding school. The threat was not a reflection on the mission itself, but a reference to the days when children were taken from their parents and their culture by the Native Welfare Department and sent to a distant mission to be trained as 'civilised' whites. 

Cecil Fogarty was one of the group of Badimia men who became soldiers in World War II. 

Dad trained in the Army as blacksmith. He was sent to New Britain. He wouldn’t talk about it. Only once, he told us how he went on a patrol across the island. They went to rescue some men, some prisoners, but they got there too late, they just found their bodies. Wayne Fogarty 2007, interviewed by C. Nicholson



Since those first encounters, their forebears’ land has been taken over and used by successive generations of immigrant Europeans. The Fogartys own none of that land in the legal sense, but because their ‘country’ is still bush and not cleared and farmed like that of the Nyoongar people to the south, they regard themselves as luckier.

“Other people have been taken away from their country, don’t know where they come from. We’re lucky, we’ve still got our bush. We’ve always been bush people, camped out in the scrub. Mum and Dad always took us out into the bush, they cut poles, and we still like to go out there, prospecting, camping, maybe catching a kangaroo – we feeel good when we’re in the bush, there’s a special feeling about it”.Darryl Fogarty, 2006

Darryl often thinks about the old people, and how they lived in the bush, “but there was more tucker then, all those small animals – they’ve all gone now – and they knew what plants to eat.”

The Fogarty brothers are shearers, musterers, sandalwood harvesters, machine and plant operators; versatile rural workers raising families in a small country town but maintaining a relationship with their traditional country.

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