Bibra Lake was first reported by the surveyor A C Gregory in May 1842 when he recorded its Aboriginal name, “Walubup”. This was traditional land for the Swan River Aborigines who had many campsites around the lake because of its abundant wild-fowl, fresh water and good vegetation.
The following year, Benedict Von Bibra, recorded the name as “Walliabup” when he acquired 320 acres in the area. Although this name was used exclusively on maps for more than half a century, locals still referred to the feature as “Bibra’s Lake”. This alternative name was added to plans and eventually in 1967, was adopted instead of the Aboriginal name.
Land in the area was cleared by families like the Tapper’s, Meller’s and Currie’s and homesteads, market gardens and dairies were established on the excellent grazing land where lucerne, maize and oats were also grown. A substantial colony of Chinese market gardeners also began around the lake in 1897. Because the land laws prohibited Chinese from owning land in Western Australia, they leased their plots. They lived in meagre tin shacks and grew tomatoes, celery and spring onions and were respected by the community for their hard work and honesty.
In the 1960s, when the State Government established a green belt in the area, Tappers dairy and homestead were demolished. The Moreton Bay fig trees, which are over 100 years old, still remain. The Aboriginal people still maintain strong links with this area of significant Aboriginal heritage and participate in educational activities at the Cockburn Wetlands Education Centre on Hope Road.
– Luba Kambourakis, Adult Services Librarian. This article first appeared in the October 2012 edition of Cockburn Soundings
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