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History







History

The Heirisson Island area in 1838

The area around Heirisson Island is traditionally associated with the Beeloo Noongar people who knew the small islands and mud flats as Matagarup, referring to the river as being "one leg deep". The island located on either side of the current causeway bridge was known as Kakaroomup.

The Matagarup mud flats were the first major crossing point upriver from the river's mouth (at Fremantle) and were an important seasonal access way over which the Beeloo Nyungah gave other groups right of passage across the river.

The first European to visit the Heirisson Island area was the Flemish explorer Willem de Vlamingh in January 1697. He was exploring the Swan River in long-boats but only got as far as the Heirisson Island(s) because the mud flats impeded any further progress.

Heirisson Island was named after French midshipman François-Antoine Boniface Heirisson, who was on the French ship Le Naturaliste, which was a scientific expedition led by Nicolas Baudin between 1801 and 1804. The expedition made several journeys up the river from Fremantle in long-boats and made the first maps of the Swan River. The island was named in June 1801.

Captain James Stirling also investigated the area in 1827 just before the Swan River Colony was settled in 1829.




Yagan's statue



Yagan statue, Heirisson Island

In September 1984 the Government of Western Australia erected a statue of Aboriginal warrior Yagan. In 1997 the statue's head was twice removed by vandals.







Register of Aboriginal Sites

Heirisson Island is listed on the Western Australia Department of Aboriginal Affairs'Register of Aboriginal Sites, as ID 3589.



Aboriginal protests

Tent embassy

In 2012, the island was the site of a tent embassy, set up in February by Noongarpeople to raise community awareness about problems with a government plan to extinguish most of the native title land in the southwest of Western Australia that was recognized in 2006 by Justice Wilcox of the Federal Court of Australia.

 The Noongar Tent Embassy was intended to be a peaceful affirmation of native title to Nyoongar country and legitimate use of a state-registered Aboriginal Heritage Site, and was inspired by the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra.

However, there were many claims made of rocks being thrown at passing boats. The tent embassy was removed by police in March 2012.

Refugee camp

In early March 2015, a group of Aboriginal activists set up what they referred to as a refugee camp after the state government announced plans to close some remote Western Australian Aboriginal communities. The camp was removed ten days later by City of Perth rangers, with police support, but gradually reassembled and was occupied by about 100 people when it was dismantled again by police and City of Perth rangers in late April 2015.

In January 2016 a group of about 60 people – including some non-indigenous homeless people – were camping on the island again. By April 2016, the camp had grown to over 100 and it was again removed by police and rangers.



Related topics

History: 

Matagarup Bridge 





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