Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours


School of Arts and Applied Sciences

First Advisor

Dr Sherry Saggers

Second Advisor

Peter Reynolds


The study takes a multidisciplinary approach by examining historical and contemporary scientific literature in order to determine the degree of intercultural competition which took place between Aborigines and Europeans for the native food resources which were associated with the Swan-Canning estuarine system, which is located in the south west of Western Australia, at approximately longitude 116" E. and latitude 32" S. The 1697-1827 time frame of the study, covers all the documented pre-colonial European visits to the fishery environs and also incorporates the first decade of the British colonisation process at the Swan River, which can be said to have begun in 1827 when a comprehensive British survey was carried out. The study draws on historical data from settlers' diaries, official correspondence, old newspapers and early cartographic material. Under separate headings it examines: The archaeological evidence for human involvement with the region; the potential food resources, including anadromous fish; European accounts of Aboriginal exploitation of the fishery resource and the associated environment; the historical accounts of European visitations to the fishery and environs,· the colonial exploitation of the fishery resource and associated environment and finally, Aboriginal-European conflict issues which involved the fishery resource and environs. The appendices contain maps, charts, tables and photographs of some species which are discussed. The conclusion of the study is that there was no direct intercultural competition for the fish resources of the estuary, but that European settlers had an impact on other faunal species such waterfowl and kangaroos. Aborigines made certain modifications to their foraging strategies as the colonisation process enveloped them, but based on theoretical calculations, intercultural violence appears to have played a major role in reducing the Aboriginal population by between 17% and 25% during the period 1829 to 1837.