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The Binjareb, Pindjarup or Pinjareb is the name of the Indigenous Australian group of Noongar speakers, living in the region of Southwest, Western Australia between Port Kennedy on the coast, between Rockingham and Mandurah to Australind on the Leschenault Inlet, and between a point between Byford and Armadale on the Darling Scarp, south to Benger near Brunswick Junction.
Pindjarup land and environment
Their name is taken from the word pinjar or benjar, meaning wetlands or swamps. The Pindjarup people were "people of the wetlands", which were the main feature of the bioregion they inhabited. Many of these wetlands have now been drained, and the area has become dominated by the dairy industry, with cattle grazing on irrigated pastures.
As a people of the wetlands, the Pindjarup were famed for their fish-traps, and a seasonal cycle of six seasons, making full use of the environmental resources from the coastal estuaries and sand-dunes, through the interior lakes and wetlands to the more fertile soils of the Darling Scarp foothills and ridgelines. Western long-necked tortoises, black swans, ducks, and migratory birds formed an important part of their diet.
History of European settlement
The lands of the Pindjarup were first explored by Europeans in 1829 when Lieutenant P. N. Preston and Dr Alexander Collie, took the British naval vessel HMS Sulphur to explore the mouths of the Peel Inlet, the Serpentine and Murray Rivers and the Leschenault Inlet.
Thomas Peel, a second cousin of the future British Prime Minister, Sir Robert Peel, was given the majority of the Pindjarup lands as his personal domain. Peel faced resistance from Pindjarup peoples when he seized the mouth of the Murray, which was an important seasonal encampment for the local Aboriginal people, providing them with about one sixth of their annual dietary needs. There were fatalities on both sides of a protracted guerilla conflict, including the death, in April 1834, of a settler named Hugh Nesbit.
Battle of Pinjarra
At the time of British settlement in 1829, the leader of the Pindjarup was Calyute, who sought to prevent his people from starvation by leading a famous but peaceful raid upon Shenton's Mill in South Perth, taking many bags of flour, which was highly prized by his people.
As a result of Calyute's raid, and at the urging of Thomas Peel, the Pindjarep were subject to a second large scale Aboriginal conflict in the history of Western Australia, the Battle of Pinjarra. Although the incident was called a "battle" by the local press, it has recently been termed a massacre due to the lobbying of contemporary scholars seeking a more accurate description.
Events after 1834
By 1836 a permanent military settlement was established in Pinjarra, and further land grants to settlers occurred with little overt resistance from Aboriginal people, who sought employment in the pastoral industry which was established in the area. By 1838 a road through Pindjarup lands connected Pinjarra to Bunbury.
Pindjarup people survived the conflict, but their cultural identity was weakened through policies of successive Protectors of Aborigines in Western Australia, particularly Henry Prinsep and A. O. Neville, who sought to "breed out" the Aboriginal race through miscegenation with whites. Successive outbreaks of measles and other illnesses also took their toll on the successive demoralisation of these people. Nevertheless, since the 1930s the number of Aboriginal people in Pindjarup lands has increased, though most now identify themselves by the language group Noongar, rather than Pindjarup. The most famous modern Pindjarup is the dramatist and poet Jack Davis (1917-2000), born in Yarloop, just south of Pinjarra, who has been called "Western Australia's Poet Laureat", for his many plays and poetry, including the famous No Sugar, which continues to be widely performed.
From the 1940s to the 1970s up to 500 Aboriginal people, including many of Pindjarup heritage, were incarcerated at the Roelands Aboriginal Mission, most of whom were taken from their families as a part of the Stolen Generations policies of that era.