Fanny Balbuk Traditional Custodian of the Perth Cultural Centre lands and waters

Proudly brought to you by the State Library of Western Australia in celebration of NAIDOC 2016. Please be aware that this material contains images and names of people who are now deceased.

Fanny Balbuk (1840-1907) was a Noongar Whadjuk woman who lived in Perth during the early days of the Swan River Colony. She was known for her fierce commitment to land rights and the traditions of her people and is remembered vividly in accounts by Daisy Bates and George Fletcher Moore.

Map of Perth with original lakes and swamplands shown, 1838

Her Songline ran from Matagarup (Heirisson Islands), along St. Georges Tce and up to Lake Kingsford (current site of the Perth Train Station, Yagan Square and the Perth Cultural Centre), and she walked this line regardless of the obstacles the growing Swan River Colony built in her way.

As a Ballaruk woman directly related to Yellagonga and Yagan her traditional Country stretched from Perth to Guildford and included the wetlands and lakes throughout Perth.
As these wetlands were drained and built over, men and women like Balbuk were faced with the collapse of their culture and the deaths of many of their kin and family.

This photo shows the Perth Railway Station in 1881 with the remnants of Lake Kingsford. Balbuk would regularly fish for jilgies in these wetlands and source plants and vegetables from the surrounding shore.

Western Mail article by Daisy Bates describing Fanny Balbuk and her life, 1907.

Fanny can be seen in this photo from 1907 in the white dress on the far right. Work is ongoing to identify the other people in the image.

Discover more photographs, maps and newspapers on the 3rd floor of the State Library building, or online with Storylines.

Photographs, articles and content have been drawn from the State Library of Western Australia collections.

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