History of Littlewell
The Mingenew Aboriginal Reserve, ‘Littlewell’, was first established in 1938. In the 1950s, houses and ablution blocks were constructed on the 10-acre site, a well was fitted with a windmill and, eventually, town water and electricity were connected. In the 70s, with many of Littlewell’s residents moving into the town centre, the reserve was closed down.
All that remains today are the concrete slab foundations of the eight houses, laundry, ablution block and the steel base of the windmill. There are some scattered artefacts on the site, as well as the trunk of a large dead tree which is fondly remembered as a central meeting place.
Littlewell is a significant place with a rich history of connection, belonging and hardship for many Aboriginal families.
Former resident, Thomas Cameron said, ‘During my time on Littlewell in the 50s we were told stories by my grandfather about our culture, including bush tucker, yumbies and singing around the campfire’. Ex-residents of the reserve are the repositories of stories about significant sites such as Depot Hill, where ceremonies were conducted and babies were born.
Given its historical importance, in 2010 the Littlewell Working Group was formed, headed up by Mr Cameron. Members, all former residents, have a strong passion to share their stories and to commemorate the lives of the families who resided there.
To see and hear more about Littlewell, watch the videos on this page or contact the Mingenew Historical Museum.
Yvonne (Bynder) Bradley, Thomas (Bynder) Cameron and Kathy Jacobs talk about their happy times growing up on the Littlewell Aboriginal Reserve.
Thomas (Bynder) Cameron and Tom Flanagan, a local farmer, talk about growing up in Mingenew and how members of the Littlewell community worked for local farmers.
Yvonne (Bynder) Bradley talks of her desire to record her personal story, the stories of her family and her community so that she can pass them on to her children. She remembers the difficult time when at the age of seven she and some of her brothers and sisters were taken from the Littlewell Reserve to live at the New Norcia Mission. After some years away from her family, she returned to Geraldton and Mingenew. She made it her business to reconnect with the surviving members of her extended family. Yvonne has written a manuscript which documents her personal and family research.
Thomas (Bynder) Cameron, Kathy Jacobs, Michael 'Buddy' Edwards and Emily Dalgety talk about the Littlewell Reserve as one big happy family where everyone looked after each other. They remember their excitement when their shearer fathers brought home bags of lamb tails which they would throw onto the campfire and eat. They look back on their childhood on the Reserve and discuss how it helped to form them as the people they are today.
Thomas (Bynder) Cameron and Tom Flanagan, a local farmer, talk about Depot Hill which is an important cultural site for the Littlewell Mob and how there are still relics of WW2 activities where troops were stationed during the War. Thomas remembers how men from Littlewell were employed in the Army Labour Force which supplied meat for the troops.
Thomas (Bynder) Cameron and Tom Flanagan, a local farmer, talk about the days when government policy prohibited Aboriginal people from being in town after 6:00 PM unless they had given up their rights as Aborigines. They also remember the time when the Mingenew Pub had one bar for Aborigines and another bar for non-Aborigines.
Michael 'Buddy' Edwards and Thomas (Bynder) Cameron talk about their lives on the Littlewell Aboriginal Reserve. Buddy remembers the happy times when everyone would play music and sing around the main campfire. For Buddy, life on the Reserve was like being a part of a large happy family. He also remembers that when his mother did not have a house to live in he was taken with some of his brothers and sisters to live in the New Norcia Mission. Later, he returned to Mingenew, worked on local farms, played in the Mingenew Football Club and visited his mother who lived in Geraldton.