Fremantle Stuff > people >
aka Ngalgoonga, Yalgoonga, Yalgonga, Yellowgonga
It's hard to know what 'Old Yellagonga', the Whadjuk custodian of the Perth area, which the Nyungar called Boorloo, must have made of the comings and goings of the people before him as he watched from his camp at Byerbup on the hill near Mount Eliza. ...
From his position on the hill, Yellagonga had a clear line of sight to where Roe stalked the sand to mark out the allotments ...
Yellagonga, who had hunting rights to the northern wetlands through his wife, Yingani, was soon to be displaced from his favourite camp by the soldiers of the 63rd Regiment. He was forced to move his people out to Lake Monger, where they received rations of rice and flour. The practice was designed to discourage them from the new settlement, because of their mostly naked appearance and 'quarrelsome nature'.
Yellagonga appears to have been well liked by the citizens of the colony, and an 1843 obituary in one of the village's first newspapers, The Perth Gazette, described him as 'mild and amiable'. However, Robert Menli Lyon [Robert Milne], a young Scot who was drawn to empathise with the plight of the Whadjuk people, and warriors Yagan and Midgegooroo in particular, considered that Yellagonga was a fitting tribal elder, because 'when fully roused, no warrior, not even Yagan, dare stand before him'. Despite this, Lyon was also to write that due to Yellagonga's benevolent nature, 'the settlers are greatly indebted [to him] for the protection of their lives and property'.
George Fletcher Moore 1884 (1978) 328-9:
— A strange scene occurred here to-day among the natives, which seemed to surprise and grieve Irwin not a little, as a stranger, although we are pretty well accustomed now to such occurrences. I was examining the knee of Weenat, who is still suffering from the wound, and was lying in a hut close to this, when suddenly I observed a body of natives at some distance coming rushing towards us at full speed. Weenat was greatly alarmed, and entreated me to run for my gun and protect him. I did so, and on my return found that they were in the act of communicating tidings of the death of a friend to him. A man sat upon his thighs, breast to breast, for some time, then whispered to him the name. (Bogan had been killed that morning at Guildford, by natives from Perth). Weenat hung his head and cried. The women covered their heads with their cloaks and made a regular wail. These men were the relatives of Bogan, seeking for revenge. The boy Bellick, who had been attending my sheep, also came up at this time, and was embraced ; but, friendly as they appeared to be, I suspect that the gun in my hand was the principal cause of their apparent friendship.
After a little, they proceeded in search of a victim, and Bellick, unsuspectingly, followed them a little, through curiosity. When they got out of sight of the house, some of the party turned upon him, dragged him to the ground, and endeavoured to kill him, but others interfered, and carried him off back to my place, wounded in two places. The spears had been turned by his ribs. The party rushed on, and soon fell in with old Barragim, or Yellagonga, and he fell dead under nine spears. All this occurred in a very short space of time, and the running, the shouting, the shrieking, the wounds of the boy, the lamentations around him, and the consternation and confusion of the natives when the death of Barragim was known, altogether formed a scene which you in the regular routine of civilised life could hardly picture to yourselves. After dinner we went out to walk a little, when we happened to come to the spot where old Gear was burying the body. The grave was about three feet deep, the body placed on its back, with the legs doubled up. He lighted a fire in the grave, singed off part of the beard, stripped off the nails of the thumb and little finger of the right hand, and tied the finger and thumb together ; covered the body with sticks, then trod on the earth ; made a hut over the head of the grave ; tore the bag into fragments and strewed them on the grave, and then burst into a cry of grief, whilst his wife sung and scraped her nose and rolled on the ground. And so the ceremony ended. He said the finger and thumb were tied that he might not throw any more spears, — rather an unnecessary precaution, one would think. The grave is close beside Mr. Tanner's early residence, which is now a ruin.
JMR Cameron, the editor of the 2006 Millendon Memoirs, adds a footnote at this point (page 431 in the later book) to this effect: 'Barragim's alternative name of Yellagonga may have been incorrectly transcribed for the Diary of Ten Years or there may have been two men of that name in the colony, for the death of the man commonly known as Yellagonga was reported in the Perth Gazette on 10 June 1843 – "The mild, amiable Yellagonga acknowledged by the natives as the possessor of vast tracts of land between Perth and Fremantle, is no more. He fell from a rock on the river's bank, and was drowned".
Yellagonga (d. 1843) was a leader of the Whadjuk Noongar on the north side of the Swan River. Colonists saw Yellagonga as the owner of this area. However, land rights were also traced through women of the group. Yellagonga could hunt on wetlands north of Perth because of his wife Yingani's connections to that country.
In 1843 the settler press reported that "the mild, amiable Yella-gonga acknowledged by the natives as the possessor of vast tracts of land between Perth and Fremantle, is no more. He fell from a rock on the river's bank, and was drowned".
Yellagonga Regional Park, around Lake Joondalup, was named after him.
In 2018, Mia Yellagonga (Place of Yellagonga) was chosen as the name of the Woodside Energy Global Headquarters Campus bounded by Mounts Bay Road, Spring Street, and Mount Street (the former Emu Brewery site) in the Perth central business district.
"Death of the King of Perth". The Perth Gazette and Western Australian Journal. 10 June 1843. p. 2.
Whish-Wilson, David (2013). Perth. NewSouth. ISBN 9781742241623.
"Swan River". Port Phillip Gazette. 23 August 1843. p. 2.
"Yellagonga Regional Park". Explore Parks WA. Perth, WA: Department of Parks and Wildlife. 2013.
"Mia Yellagonga, Woodside's new home". Woodside. 11 December 2018.
Hasluck, Alexandra 1961, 'Yagan the patriot, and some notable Aborigines of the first decade of settlement', Early Days, vol. 5, part 7: 35-48.
Whish-Wilson, David 2013, Perth, NewSouth, UNSW, Sydney.
yellagong at mongers lake, Cambridge Library [Floreat, WA].
Garry Gillard | New: 16 October, 2022 | Now: 28 November, 2022