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Push to restore Lake Monger's original name - Galup - gains momentum

Rhiannon Clarke -

A movement led by Whadjuk Noongar Elders to restore the name of Lake Monger to 'Galup' is gaining traction. 

Galup, which translates to "place of fire," held great significance for the Whadjuk Noongar families who inhabited and nurtured their communities there for countless generations prior to the arrival of the British, and continues to hold significance for their descendants today.

Following its purchase by John Henry Monger in 1831, the land came to be known as Lake Monger.

Elder Glenda Kickett said restoring the historic site's Whadjuk Noongar name would mark a significant milestone in the process of truth-telling.

“I just think it’s important to acknowledge Galup, it has special meaning for my family and for Whadjuk people,” she told National Indigenous Times.

“It is a place for fire, so a lot of our family camped around this area and when settlement occurred they were driven out of here.

l-r: Poppy Van Oorde-Grainger, Ian Wilkes and Glenda Kickett (Image: Rhiannon Clarke)

“It is also a massacre site, so we need to acknowledge this sight and we need to acknowledge what happened to our people and I think that through that acknowledgement it begins a process of healing and we are starting to uncover a lot of massacre sites around Perth.

“That history needs to be told for our young people and to also acknowledge our Elders through that process.” 

Last Friday, Ms Kickett welcomed 80 community members at Galup as part of a gathering to acknowledge the massacre that happened at the site in 1830.

Traditional Owners Ash Garlett Penfold and Ian Wilkes guided people through the smoking ceremony which aimed to bring people together for connection and healing. The event culminated with a Noongar song that Wilkes wrote to honour the people who lost their lives there.

Amongst the attendees were Town of Cambridge mayor Gary Mack, Cr Carr, Cr Cutler and CEO Gary Tuffin along with Federal MP for Curtin Kate Chaney, state Member for Churchlands Christine Tonkin MLA, and Pierre Yang MLC. The event was supported by local not-for-profit groups Same Drum, Friends of Galup / Lake Monger, West Leederville Flower District and Reconciliation WA.

In addition to calling for the traditional name of Lake Monger to be restored, attendees voiced support for a memorial to be built at the site of the massacre that took place there 194 years ago.

Filmmaker Poppy van Oorde-Grainger worked with Mr Wilkes to create the Galup project, which explores untold stories of the lake through performance, virtual reality and online history.

The proposal entails the preparation of a comprehensive plan by the council staff, outlining the official renaming or dual naming of the lake.

Ms Van Oorde-Grainger also emphasised the significance of establishing a memorial at Galup to aid elders in their healing process from past traumatic events and to finally restore the traditional name.

“The Elders who are working with us have always said “We can’t move into the future without acknowledging the past”,” she told National Indigenous Times.

“Over the last seven years through this project we have been talking about the history of this place and particularly the traumatic history that started in 1829 and continues to this day.

“Just because bad thing happened here doesn’t make it a bad place, they [Elders] still want people to come here and enjoy it.

“It’s been a place for families for ten or thousands of years but they want people to also know the truth and acknowledge it and have that deeper respect for that place.”  

Poppy Van Oorde-Grainger and Kate Chaney (Image: Rhiannon Clarke)

Federal MP Kate Chaney, who lives close to Galup and visits the area regularly, said she fully supports the memorial and the renaming of the lake.

“I think it’s really important for people who live in the area to understands its history, it’s such an important part of connecting with our known history and the reconciliation process,” she said.

“I am really supportive of putting a memorial here, I think there is a thirst for knowledge when it comes to local indigenous history and I’m really glad that the Town of Cambridge has expressed interest and I will do whatever I can to support it as well.”

The Town of Cambridge councillors have approved the name change from Lake Monger to Galup and are keen to have a scoping study conducted for a memorial, as put forth by Mayor Gary Mack.

Town of Cambridge Mayor Cr Gary Mack. (Image: Rhiannon Clarke)

Mayor Mack noted that the Town is interested in engaging with the WA government, and initial signs suggest that they are keen for the memorial to be a site of statewide significance.

“We are very keen to progress that and get the mob involved as best as we can, understand their needs are and get them to drive it," the Mayor said.

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