Apical Argument – Part 1

A short history of Aboriginal relations at the Swan River through the story of John Henry Monger and his closest associates.


JH Monger Death Notice Above: Gone to the grave. The name of John Henry Monger (the elder) has long been associated with the birth of Benil, also known as John Jack Mungar Bennell, patriarch of the well known Noongar Bennell and Garlett families of today.  Image: taken  from Classified Advertisements, The Perth Gazette and West Australian Times, Friday 3 September 1869.


Warning: This post is concerned with Indigenous family history and carries the names of many deceased persons. The intention is to neither prove nor disprove existing theories or beliefs, only to throw light upon a subject of interest to many indigenous and non-indigenous families alikeThe View From Mount Clarence is the work of a non-indigenous writer and researcher on the subject of racial integration in South-West Western Australia.



For Aileen, Glenys and Darren Quartermaine-Garlett and all descendants of

John Henry Monger, the Elder, 1800-1867

John Henry Monger 1802-1867




In recent months I’ve been drawn back into family matters. When I say family, I mean extended family, and in this case the extention is wide and far. But that’s the beauty of it and one of the reasons I decided to get involved. The other is because the matter at hand is distressing and it’s not nice to find people in distress.

A relative of mine has been told she belongs to a family she doesn’t know. For the purposes of the Single Noongar Claim, a Perth woman through and through has been told by the South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council (SWALSC) that she’s from the Avon Valley.  She’s been told she belongs to an old and very well known Ballardong family with roots buried deep in the days of first settlement at York. She holds nothing against that family, of course, she just doesn’t understand or agree with the judgement. Her whole life she’s been told stories of her grandparents, great grandparents and beyond living along the Swan. My Aunt says her people were the 19th Century Perth personalities Tommy Dower and Fanny Balbuk, not the York patriarchs Benil, Mungarlit and Kikit.

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