Land systems

Land systems: an Australian 'invention'
Botanical history
Mulga-Eucalypt line

Forrest’s Lake Monger

A short arm of Mongers Lake extends southward into Charles Darwin Reserve about three kilometres north of the homestead. Early maps of the region show Lake Monger as the name of the long chain of saltlakes lying from near Paynes Find in the north, to Jibberding in the south (to the north and west of Charles Darwin Reserve). Modern maps show the name as Mongers Lake.


The first record of Mongers Lake comes from N. W. Cooke who came upon it on August 17th, 1868 while exploring east from his home farm at Arrino:

Slept on the borders of very extensive salt marshes, and had considerable difficulty in finding fresh water. This was camp No.9.

On August 18th: Started this morning in a south east direction to cross the marsh at its narrowest place, about 300 yards wide, along the edges of which the feed is good in patches…

N.W. Cooke, Extract from The Enquirer and Commercial News, Wednesday October 14, 1868. Exploration Diaries, Vol 6, J.S.Battye Library 

Shortly after, the Monger brothers, John Henry and George, crossed the lake in the opposite direction:

On the 22nd September the party started [from Ninghan] upon the return journey, travelling 16 miles towards Damperwarra… Crossed a large salt lake, surmounted with good country well adapted for sheep.   J.H. Monger, extract from Perth Gazette and WA Times, 9 October 1868. Exploration Diaries Vol. 6, J.S. Battye Library

Neither Cooke nor Monger bestowed a name on the lake, although Monger had the Aboriginal guide Jimmy Mungaro who provided the Aboriginal names of other places.

Explorer John Forrest was the next to cross the lake, in 1869, on the same path as the Mongers, and with George Monger as his second in command.

July 26th: Some delay having occurred in collecting the horses, did not start till 9 a.m. when we steered a little to the north of west towards Damperwar. For the first seven miles over rough trap hills lightly grassed, when we entered samphire and salt bush flats for 4 miles, crossing a dry lake at a point where it was only 100 yards wide, and continuing through thickets, we camped at a spot with very little feed and water in south latitude 29 deg. 21 min. 48 sec. From this spot Mount Singleton bore N. 113 deg. 20 min. East mag., distant about 20 miles.

Harry Leaver of Moora, who has meticulously tracked Forrest’s route and camps, says this crossing is at Lucky Spring, about 100 m south of the existing track. (Harry Lever, pers com to C. Nicholson, 2007). Forrest obviously did not find the spring, which appears to be seasonal and as described by Ashley Bell of Ninghan: just a kangaroo scrape.


For some reason Forrest deferred naming it until his next encounter two days later:

July28th: Steering in a southerly direction [from Damperwah Springs], and following along the western margin of a salt lake, most of the way over samphire flats etc, with thickets intervening more dense than usual, we camped on a small grassy spot with plenty of water in granite rocks called Murrung-gnulgo, situated close to the west side of the lake which I named Lake Monger…By meridian altitudes of E Bootes, a Corono Borealis, a Lyrae (Vega) and a Aquilae (Altair) Murrunggnulgo is in south latitude 29 deg. 37min.20sec., Damperwar bearing about North mag.

The 1869 Exploration Plan drawn by Forrest shows the complete section of the lake from above his July 26th crossing point to a little south of Murrunggnulgo, and his 1873 plan of bearings from Mt Singleton taken on his 1869 visit shows his “Good crossing” and Murrunggnulgo with the lake marked clearly.

J.H. Monger subsequently took out a pastoral lease over Lucky Spring and Lucky Crossing, shown as a red rectangle on Exploration Plan 20.

Forrest’s rough outlines of the Lake Monger and Lake Moore were not replaced on maps until after the 1887 survey by G.D. Robinson.

At that time the Monger family were prominent farmers from York with businesses in the city of Perth . There is now a 'Monger Street' in North Perth, and Lake Monger is one of the larger wetlands in Perth and a favourite tourist spot with its large population of black swans. There is also a Mount Monger hill and sheep station south-east of Kalgoorlie.

The Mongers’ Mongers Lake

Having two lakes named Lake Monger was confusing. In 1932 the Minister for Lands approved the re-naming of the Lake Monger at Whitewells to Mongers Lake, but it was not officially changed until 1946.

The Database of Names maintained by the Western Australian Geographic Names Committee convened by the Department of Land Information states:

Origins and History:

J Forrest 1869 - Expl Diary Vol.6 p.225. Named after Mr George Monger, second in charge of Forrest's expedition of April 1869 in search of the missing
Leichardt. See also Exploration Plan 32.

Extract from minutes of Nomenclature Advisory Committee meeting held on 1.5.1946 - book 2 p50 Item 13 "Mongers Lake - file 17/98v4. It was agreed that
the names Lake Monger for the lake near Perth, and Mongers Lake for the lake east of the Wongan Hills-Mullewa railway should stand, as approved by the
Minister for Lands in 1932". Gazetted 14/6/1946 page 641.

The lake’s name, now being in the plural but not the possessive, can now be considered to commemorate both Monger brothers.