The Aboriginal land rights activist you've probably never heard of


The Aboriginal land rights activist you've probably never heard of
  1. The Aboriginal land rights activist you've probably never heard of
    abc.net.au
    Historians and Noongar elders are working to revive the memory of Fanny Balbuk Yooreel, a fighter for Aboriginal land rights in…
    Western Australia
ABC Radio Perth By Emma Wynne Fanny Balbuk in a group photo, before 1907 Photo: Fanny Balbuk Yooreel is sitting in the front row, second from right, in this image of her from before 1907. (Supplied: State Library of Western Australia)

Fanny Balbuk Yooreel was well-known figure in the early days of Perth's Swan River colony.

She fought hard for her people's land rights, but today very few people know her story.

Local historians and Noongar elders want her contribution recognised, 110 years after her death.

Fanny Balbuk at the zoo Photo: Fanny Balbuk (in white) at the zoo, some time between 1885 and 1902. (Supplied: State Library of Western Australia)

Marie Taylor is a Wadjuk Ballardong elder who has researched Fanny Balbuk's life.

"People thought that she was a mischievous young woman," Ms Taylor told ABC Radio Perth.

"In my research ... I found she was a Noongar woman dedicated to her culture.

"She was able to link in with the early settlers in such a way that friendships were built."

As part of the National Trust's annual Heritage Festival, a series of events including a symposium, the screening of a documentary film and a guided walk through Perth will be held to bring more attention to the life of Fanny Balbuk.

Gina Pickering, communication and interpretation officer at the National Trust in WA, produced the half-hour documentary.

"Her connections to the place are hugely significant — and kind of hidden," she said.

"In 2017, why don't we really know about her?

"It's time to hear about her."

Fanny Balbuk was born at Matagarup, now called Heirisson Island, on the Swan River in 1840; it was 11 years after the colony was founded.

Matagarup (Heirisson Island) - the easiest crossing point of the Swan River. Photo: Matagarup (Heirisson Island) where Fanny Balbuk was born in 1840. (720 ABC Perth: Emma Wynne)

"Her mother and father would have ensured that she learnt her cultural knowledge in such a way that it would never be forgotten," Ms Taylor said.

"She had never seen houses before.

"She was used to being brought up in the traditional camping grounds of my people."

But as the Perth settlement began to grow, wetlands where Fanny Balbuk's people had hunted for generations were drained and built over.

Buildings went up on p…