Aboriginal people have occupied the vicinity of the planning area [Walpole Wilderness] for at least the past 6000 years. However, evidence from other parts of the south-west suggests this occupation has been as long as 48 000 years. Nyoongar people were transient, but occupied coastal areas more than forests. Traditional lifestyle for Nyoongar people had close links to and understanding of the land. [p 116].
At the time of European settlement, the south-west was inhabited by 13 different socio- linguistic groups. These groups shared traditions and a common language, and are collectively known as Nyoongars. The word ‘Nyoongar’ translates to mean “man” or “person” and relates to the language spoken in the area to the west of a line from the coast south of Geraldton to the Great Australian Bight, east of Esperance. However, considerable variation existed within this group. The group which lived in the planning area were known as the ‘Murrum’ (Crawford and Crawford 2003). These people occupied an area from King George Sound, north to the Stirling Range and the Shannon River and on the coast from West Cliff to Boat Harbour and Palingup River. They also lived around Mount Barker, Nornalup, Wilson Inlet and the Porongorup Range (Tilbrook 1983, McDonald, Hales and Associates 1994). [p 115].
The Timeline of Events compiled by D. Lee Hunter for the Society records evidence of Aboriginal People living in the Walpole area:
Fish traps at Broke Inlet and Wilson Inlet, gnamma holes in rocks in the Gordon River; Frankland River had lizard traps and shallow crab-crushing depressions along the coast. There are also native wells (soaks) eg Nornaculup.
The Timeline also records that (in the early 1800's) visiting sealers and whalers used Sealers Cove and Snake Island in the Nornalup Inlet. Captain Stirling, Governor of the Swan River Colony until 1839, instructed sealers to look out for Deep River of the Sealers.
Vancouver and Eyre, Albany: 1791 and 1841
An Australia Post stamp and miniature sheet issued on 25 September 1991 commemorates two explorers linked with the rugged south coast of Western Australia.
George Vancouver, with his ships Discovery and Chatham, sailed into a vast harbour he names King George Sound (where the port of Albany was later established) on 23 September 1791.
Between February and July 1841, Edward John Eyre made the 1400km journey along the edge of the Great Australian Bight from Fowlers Bay, near what is now Ceduna, South Australia to Albany, Western Australia.
Sparsely placed water holes and high sand dunes proved more difficult and exhausting than Eyre imagined. Eyre and his aboriginal explorer Wylie trudged on with little water and food trying to live off the land.
Near the present site of Esperance, when the pair were on the point of starvation and exhaustion, a passing French whaler provided relief. Recuperated Eyre and Wylie continued on to Albany arriving there on 7 July 1841: this scene is depicted on the miniature sheet.