The Naming of Israelite Bay, WA

with some brief history

Prior to becoming the first permanent European residents of Esperance, members of the Dempster family were exploring for good grazing country in that vicinity. Part of their diary entry for the 14th June 1863 reads "A bay named Israelite Bay in honour of the blacks. They were of the Dadjunna tribe." Rintoul p25 The 'Dadjuna' of the Dempsters is the Ngadju Nation. Schultz

Norman Tindale's book, Aboriginal Tribes of Australia, states "...the European name of Israelite Bay is a geographic label witness to this being the boundary between those who did and did not practice circumcision at the time of the naming of the country by Westerners". Tindale p41

In the Christian and Jewish faiths, among the provisions of the first covenant with Abram (Abraham) is that the circumcision of men will be a sign that the covenant is being kept. Genesis 17 1:14 The descendants of Abraham's grandson, Jacob were known as the Israelites. (In Genesis 32 28:29, Jacob was renamed Israel and hence his descendants were the Israelites).

The Ngadju practised circumcision, however the boundary between those who practised circumcision and those who did not was the Thomas River. The Ngadju Nation includes Israelite Bay, Mt Ragged and Point Malcolm. West of Thomas River is the Nyunga Nation which did not practise circumcision. Schultz

Other European navigators and explorers such as Matthew Flinders and Edward John Eyre had earlier been in the vicinity of Israelite Bay but it seems they did not name it. DLI in respect to Matthew Flinders

A map depicting the deployment of Western Australian customs staff in 1893 showed that a landing waiter was stationed at Israelite Bay. Day p357

Leslie Schultz, Ngadju/Nyunga Elder

A landing waiter was a customs officer on the wharf charged with checking goods against those listed in the ship's manifest. Day p xxxiv

Day, David (1992) Smugglers and Sailors: The Customs History of Australia 1788-1901 AGPS, Canberra
Department of Land Information. Geographic Names Database.
Erickson, Rica (1978) The Dempsters UWAP
The Hebrew Bible in English, Torah - (Note: reference verses for the Torah and the New English Bible are the same).
The New English Bible (1970) OUP & CUP
Ngadju Native Title Aboriginal Corporation website
Norris, Murree (nd) 'History of families and their settlements in the area surrounding Israelite Bay'. Typescript manuscript reproduced in Campbell, R. McK (1995) Israelite Bay Post Office and Telegraph Station. The National Trust (Perth).
Rintoul, John (1964) Esperance: Yesterday and Today Esperance Shire Council
Schultz, Leslie (2021) - Personal communication
Tindale, Norman B (1974) Aboriginal Tribes of Australia: Their Terrain, Environment Controls. Distribution, Limits, and proper Names. Australian National University Press, Canberra.