Ngaala kaaditj Noongar moort keyen kaadak nidja boodja.
We acknowledge the Noongar people as the Traditional Owners of this land.
The Denmark Shire lies in the Pibbulmun cultural area which is part of the wider Noongar region.
Prior to European settlement, both Pibbulmun and Minang groups met regularly for ceremonial and economic purposes, as Denmark was an area of cultural interaction.
Wilson Inlet and its tributaries formed a focal point for Noongar people who managed and utilized the Inlet and its abundant natural resources.
Archaeological evidence, such as fish traps and stone tools, have been found in Wilson Inlet and carbon from Aboriginal cooking fires identified in the sand from a cave near Ocean Beach.
Noongar cultural heritage is embedded within the landscape.
This means that many natural features of the Denmark area hold important heritage values.
Wilson Inlet, Nornalup Inlet, Frankland River, Styx River, Denmark River, Hay River and Blue Lake are all highly significant heritage features.
Conserving Noongar cultural heritage means conserving natural heritage as the two are completely intertwined. We ask that you respect the cultural heritage of this land.
The structure of Aboriginal society was seriously threatened with the arrival of the Europeans.
Despite initial friendly relations, contact with the new settlers was disastrous for the Aboriginal population.
Many deaths resulted from conflict as well as from exposure to European diseases such as measles, influenza and smallpox.
There are various rumours about a taboo placed on the Denmark region by Aboriginal people. This may account for the disappearance of the Aboriginal people from the Denmark district. However, this hypothesis has never been proven. An equally tragic and possibly related theory was that the many deaths leading from European-introduced diseases decimated their population and led to Aboriginal people to move to other locations.
One of the first European explorers of the Denmark district, Dr Thomas Braidwood Wilson, described the area as a place of fine soil, towering timber and plentiful water. Dr Wilson was one of the first European men to penetrate the new territory outside the King George Sound settlement that had been set up in 1826. In 1829, with the backing of Lieutenant George Sleeman, Commandant of King George Sound, Wilson took a party of men to explore the interior.
Guided by the Aboriginal Mokare, the party came across and named many geographical features of the Denmark district. Such names as the Denmark and Hay Rivers, Mount Lindesay and Mount Shadforth still remain to this day. Wilson named the Denmark River after a medical friend, Alexander Denmark who had played an influential role in Wilson’s career.
European use of the land around Denmark first began in the 1840s. Pioneer graziers such as the Hassell, Moir and Muir families, began to use a small part of Denmark’s coastal areas for grazing cattle. The first formal farm in the area was on land which bordered Wilson Inlet on the eastern side, leading towards the Nullaki Peninsula.
This was Marbelup Farm, one of the oldest in Western Australia, which was started in the 1840s by Henry Tulley and later bought by David Young, who gave his family’s name to the district of Youngs Siding.
Established in 1895 as a mill town by the Millar Brothers it operated until 1905 when the main timber reserves were cut out.
After lobbying by a small group of remaining residents and the mill closures, the town was purchased by the WA Government several years later.
From 1923/4 a scheme to introduce new settlers saw many immigrants from interstate and overseas arrive in the district.
There were fifteen Group Settlements formed to clear and farm the land.
Fishing, farming, dairying, market gardening and orchards were at various times important local industries in Denmark
In the late 1920’s the original Millars rail line was rebuilt from the Hay River west to the town. The line new line was also extended to Nornalup where the Frankland River barred the way. It was envisioned that the line would ultimately continue to Pemberton and thus link Albany to Bunbury and then Perth.
Today, this diversity can still be seen in the enterprises, businesses and community groups throughout the Shire. Denmark has a great diversity of population, making for a huge variety of interests and occupations. The main local industries include tourism, viticulture, horticulture, construction, beef, dairy, sheep, pig, tree farming, cottage industries and agriculture, whilst home-based enterprise, sustainable development, healthcare support and new technologies are all attracting residents to the Shire interested in combining lifestyle and enterprise to achieve a rewarding sense of life work balance.
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