New Prep Buildings Officially Opened and named in Honour of three Nyoongar Leaders

3 Nov 2015

The Governor of Western Australia, Her Excellency the Honourable Kerry Sanderson AO, officially opened Guildford Grammar School’s new Preparatory School building at a special service this morning. The three new wings of the School have been named in honour of three Nyoongar leaders, in consultation with the Whadjuk People, the traditional owners of the land on which Guildford Grammar School sits. The buildings will be named:

Joobaitch, (Kangaroo skin group) from the Swan, Guildford and Canning districts who died in 1907 and is buried in Guildford

Woolba, (Black Swan skin group) from Gingin, who died in 1913

Monop, (Dingo skin group) from Victoria Plains, who died in 1913

The three Whadjuk elders and lawmen, Joobaitch, Woolba and Monop are incredibly significant leaders as they shared and recorded their traditional stories with non-Aboriginal people. Today these stories are recognised as passing on important aspects of traditional cultural and ecological knowledge, still of great relevance to the Nyoongar, in Perth and the Southwest.

Yued Elder Monop was known for his musical ability and provided the Kyli or boomerang music as an accompaniment to the songs.

Boora Elder Woolba was a traditional member of the Gingin families. He was one of the happiest Indigenous people Daisy Bates had ever met and upon arriving at a camp he would break into dance. He was strongly cultured in Indigenous knowledge and knew his traditions and lore well. He was always willing to share this information with non-Indigenous people.

Ballaruk Elder Joobaitch of the Kangaroo skin group of Perth, was a lawman of the Guildford area. He grew up among the colonists, keeping to his laws but also becoming familiar with the European ways. He was a protégé of Bishop Hale and at one time a native trooper. They made him a sort of police official, to track and catch convicts and as a go-between for the other natives. His immediate family were the earliest amongst the dispossessed groups, whose title to the Swan Banks, and their Boodja (country) had been theirs for hundreds of generations.

The three leaders were of great importance to the region and led the delegation that performed for the Royal visit to Australia in 1901, when the then Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York visited. The group performed at Bennett Brook at Success Hill. They danced the spider dance, which the Guildford Grammar School Boodjar Bidi boys now perform.

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