Senior Bindjareb Elder
Right now, I’m lying in the shade on the banks of the river. I’ve spent my whole life down here beside the estuary system and the Murray, Serpentine and Harvey Rivers. I just had my 74th birthday and this place under the tree, near the fork in the river by the new Mandurah Bridge, is my favourite place to be in the world.
This spot right here is where Noongar people would meet for three months at a time at a type of fish market. When the mullet were spawning, they would gather to catch fish to trade and sell to people who would come from as far as the Wheatbelt. I am a senior Bindjareb Elder from the Peel Region and Freeman of the City of Mandurah.
I was delivered by my grandmother at an Aboriginal reserve in Pinjarra and grew up with my five brothers and six sisters. Our parents took good care of us and we had lots of aunties and uncles and cousins too. The local landscape was our supermarket. We could catch whatever we needed like possums, turtles and kangaroos. I’ve seen a lot of changes over the times; the biggest ones are the high-rise buildings and the road systems. But this place is still Mandjoogoordap (Mandurah) which means ‘meeting place of the heart.’
There is so much for visitors to see and do if they want to learn more about Aboriginal history and culture. The City of Mandurah has recognised our history too with signage pointing out our places of importance.
My sister Gloria Kearing is a very talented artist and storyteller. Her paintings always come with words that tell the story in just the right way. Aboriginal art is a good way to get to know our history and our culture and I recommend people take the time to visit the Mandurah Community Museum and the art on display there. There are also dedicated Aboriginal art exhibitions at different venues throughout the year.
Another thing visitors will enjoy is being shown all of the special spots and hearing all the stories from a local Aboriginal person. George Walley at Mandjoogoordap Dreaming runs great tours and people will learn a lot from him.
This makes me sad to say but the number one thing all visitors to Mandurah should do is go to the site of the Pinjarra Massacre. Karee-Anne Kearing Salmon will take you through and tell you the stories of how people were killed where they lay just because they wouldn’t move on. There is a soundtrack that plays and you’re taken back to that time. Stand there and concentrate on your feelings. It’s important to get that feeling in your heart when you come into that place.
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