Aboriginal Noongar people lived here for tens of thousands of years before this land became the Swan River Settlement, not quite two hundred years ago. The settlement (later named Perth after a dignitary’s hometown in Scotland) was founded by a hopeful Captain Stirling in 1829. The settlers paid for their own passage and that of their families and servants. In return they would receive 200 acres for every labourer they brought with them. This didn’t appease them once they arrived. Life was much harder than they had been promised.
The early settlement grew very slowly until 1850, when convicts alleviated the labour shortage and boosted the population. Convict labour was also responsible for constructing the city’s substantial buildings such as Government House and the town hall. The discovery of gold in the 1890s increased Perth’s population fourfold in a decade and initiated a building bonanza. Largely excluded from this race to riches were the Noongar people. In 2006, however, the Perth Federal Court recognised the Noongar people’s connection to the land. Although unfortunately, at the time of writing, the Western Australian and Federal Governments appealed this recognition of native title and the matter was before the Federal Court.