Truth burns deep

• The team behind Galup.

A PERTH festival performance seeks to bring the little-known events of WA’s first colonial atrocity into focus.

Galup is the Noongar word for Lake Monger and translates as place of fire, where Noongar families maintained their home campfires for millennia.

But it was also where European soldiers chased the area’s traditional owners after an encounter in the newly formed Perth townsite.

There are conflicting accounts of how many Noongars were killed, but the Herald recently uncovered newspaper accounts from the time claiming seven deaths, which would qualify it as our first massacre. The colonial officer in charge denied anyone was killed, though he acknowledged a grievous wounding caused by a gunshot.

Now Indigenous artist Ian Wilkes and filmmaker Poppy van Oorde-Grainger have collaborated with elder Doolann-Leisha Eatts for an oral history and interactive 3.5km walk that sheds new perspectives on the incident.

A team of elders who’ve helped guide the Galup project released a statement saying: 

“It’s so important for young people, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal to join forces to understand history better and do the proper interpretations on behalf of the contemporary generations.”

Ms Eatts said she’s been dreaming of having the story told since she was 10 years old.

Mr Wilkes said he remembers driving on the freeway past the lake as a kid.

“Dad would tell us to look out the window towards the lake; he would always say ‘something bad happened there, never forget it. Always remember what really happened’,” Mr Wilkes said.

The Galup Elders Talk starts at the Lake Monger Bowls Club this Wednesday March 10 from 2-4pm. It’s free, but with Covid there’s a limit, so book at


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