Undalup's final Bardimia gathering

FOR generations Aboriginal people from around WA travelled to the Bardimia campsite to holiday at Locke Estate, sadly it was their final gathering on the weekend.

The campsite was originally built by children from the stolen generation who were taken to the Roelands Mission, according to the Undalup Association Inc.

The land was used as a place for the children to camp and holiday in the South West where they could explore, fish and reconnect with the land away from the mission.

On the weekend, Aboriginal people travelled from as far as Northam for the final gathering at Bardimia, after the City of Busselton council did not renew their lease for the campsite.

In March last year, councillors voted to give Lot 14 of Locke Estate to a non-Aboriginal organisation, disappointing Aboriginal elders and custodians.

Traditional custodian of the South West Wayne Webb said it was a sad day for the Aboriginal people who gathered at the campsite.

Mr Webb said they were saying goodbye to the campsite and all the memories and times that were spent there.

“It was setup to bring the people down at the end of the year as a special treat to get away from all the rigours of daily life for a few weeks every year,” he said.

“To see it go is sad actually because everyone who could not afford holidays would come here, it was not just Noongar people it was all different people.”

Mr Webb said people who came to the campsite were able to go fishing and crabbing and relive the lifestyle that most of them were brought up doing. 

“It is saying goodbye to a certain area of Boodja (country), everyone still has special feelings about the place because everyone over time came here there are lots of memories for everyone,” he said.

”It is a sad day to see it go now.”

Mr Webb recalled times from the late 1970’s when there was a sand dune at the campsite, which was so big you could not see the beach behind it.

“There was bush here it was actually big it would go a long way and you would walk up over the sand dune and walk through the track then come across where old Mr Brockman would bring his horses ,” he said.

“You would go through the bush again and step off the sand dune and go onto the beach, which would be right out, you could not see the water you could not see any of that, it came up after the groin was put in.”

Mr Webb said at the time Busselton was like an island from Quindalup all the way up towards Bunbury.

“Most of our people are buried here along the sand, the horizon out there is Karranup which is like our heaven, we believe our spirits go across out there,” he said. 

“People would not actually camp very much along here because they knew where everyone was buried so they would camp in certain spots.”

In the late 1970s, Mr Webb said they would congregate at the river mouths because the fish would swim up the rivers into the swamps.

“Gran used to take us up there and show us how to catch them by stirring the mud up and they would come to the top to breathe,” he said.

“We would put tea tree across so they would not get back out and we would make it wide because she told us they could not jump out.

“All that activity happened right through here when Gran was still around and she would show us all that stuff.” 

Fresh Start, a WA drug recovery program, are the current lease holders on the campsite, chief executive officer Jeff Claughton said the day came about through the Undalup Association Inc.

Mr Claughton said Fresh Start recognised the historical significance of the campsite for Aboriginal people and were happy to be involved with the final gathering.

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