A project from the National Trust of WA
A self-guided drive trail between the Perth Hills and Western Australia’s Eastern Goldfields. Go with the Flow. Follow the water to discover more about the audacious goldfields water supply scheme and Engineer CY O’Connor.
“Future generations, I am quite certain will think of us and bless us for our far seeing patriotism, and it will be said of us, as Isaiah said of old, ‘They made a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert”
The first Europeans explorers to visit the region we now know as the Wheatbelt considered it an inhospitable land. The first European settlers considered it as something which needed to be tamed and made fit for civilisation. Aboriginal people had lived there for tens of thousands of years, however, without considering it either inhospitable or in need of change.
As the Europeans moved into the area the local Aboriginal people were displaced from their traditional lands. Initially the pastoralists employed a number of them to care for their stock. Their knowledge of the country made them invaluable. While the relationship was often paternalistic and exploitative, this work did enable the Aboriginal people to remain on their land and to retain many aspects of their traditional life. There was considerable contact, and at times friendships, between the white and black communities.
All this changed with the coming of the new agricultural settlers. The land was cleared, destroying the habitat for native animals, a valuable food source, and decreasing the number of available camping places. Fences were erected, preventing easy movement across the land. The smaller landholdings were generally worked by the settlers without the need for any, especially Aboriginal, employees. And as settlers established their own communities, they established social barriers limiting their contact with the Aboriginal people.
Some Aboriginal people took up land and began farming. But these farmers were doomed to fail. Their hold on the land was insecure, the government being able to take it back any time. They could not obtain the same credit as white farmers to finance the farm and if they worked for other farmers to earn the money they needed, they did not have the time to make the necessary improvements on their own farms.
The result of all these changes was that most Aboriginal families moved from the bush and into permanent camps near the towns. Mission Road on the Goldfields Road between Kellerberrin and Doodlakine is a reminder of one of the reserves established to contain Aboriginal people and Jureen Mission that served those who lived there.
Sir, I beg to inform you that I have been on the Pipe Trench ever since I left Perth. I am now working in Mr Harris’ gang at the above address. My wife is anxious to know how the children at the Swan Mission are as we have heard nothing of them since we came up here.
Will you kindly see, or write to Mr Garland and let me know if all is well with them. If there is no reason against it could not the children write to us themselves. Did you receive the box of flowers I sent you about 3 months ago. Fred Mead, an Aboriginal worker, in a letter to Henry Prinsep, Chief Protector of Aborigines, 1901
Click on any map section or place below to discover The Golden Pipeline.