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Fanny Balbuk came from the Whadjuk clan of the Nyungar, the Indigenous people of south-west Western Australia, and one of the largest language groups in the country. She was born and raised on the Swan River at Matagarup, or Heirrison Island. The year of her birth was 1840, barely a decade after Europeans established the Swan River Colony and not long before her father died on Rottnest Island. ... According to Daisy Bates:
To the end of her life [Balbuk] raged and stormed at the usurping of her beloved home ground ... a straight track led to the place where once she had gathered jilgies and vegetable food with the women, in the swamp where Perth railway station now stands. Through fences and over them, Balbuk took the straight track to the end. When a house was built in the way, she broke its fence palings with her digging stick and charged up the steps and through the rooms.
Neither Bates nor Balbuk was alive to see it, but Balbuk's refusal to be ignored and the records Bates kept of Balbuk's clan territory helped the Federal Court to rule in 2006 that native title continued to exist in Perth, the first time such a claim had been upheld in an Australian capital city. Balbuk died in 1907.
Bridge, P. J. (ed.), Daisy Bates, My Natives and I: Incorporating the Passing of the Aborigines: A Lifetime Spent Among the Natives of Australia, Hesperian Press, Carlisle, 2004.
Whish-Wilson, David 2013, Perth, NewSouth, UNSW, Sydney.
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