The name of a heroic Indigenous stockman who rescued the crew of a stricken ship off the West Australian coast in the 1800s will be permanently etched onto the nation’s maps.
Yebble, named after Noongar man Samuel Yebble Isaacs, on Thursday became the first locality in the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River’s history to be renamed.
The coastal land sits between Gracetown and the Margaret River and encompasses part of the Leeuwin Naturaliste National Park.
Yebble’s great grandson and 2015 Australian of the Year Robert Isaacs said he was proud to see the respect paid to his ancestor.
“Undalup Association executives and members have worked tirelessly from inception to
fruition in this ground-breaking historic event,” he said.
“I am deeply honoured that my great grandfather’s heroic deeds 145 years ago
to help save the lives of 54 people have finally been recognised and his legacy
will live on.
“My journey into finding my family, my ancestors and my cultural identity has
taken many years from learning that I was Aboriginal at five years of age, without
the understanding of what that meant, and to where to we are today to honour
an Aboriginal man at a sacred place.”
On December 1, 1876, a 24-year-old Yebble was working as a stockman when the SS Georgette ran aground at Redgate Beach near Gnarabup with about 50 people on board.
Yebble quickly raised the alarm with his employers, the Bussell family, and rushed to the scene with Grace Bussell to rescue passengers from the surf.
Media reported Grace, 16 at the time, was mostly responsible for the rescue and described Yebble as her black servant.
Grace was awarded a silver medal from the Royal Humane Society and had several places named after her, such as Gracetown and Lake Grace.
Mr Isaacs said it was incumbent on people today to fix the lack of recognition for Indigenous people.
“(Yebble’s) heroic deeds 145 years ago of the rescue of 54 passengers from the foundering SS Georgette were recognised at the time but downplayed in comparison to the accolades bestowed on Grace Bussell,” he said.
Yebble was awarded a bronze medallion and was later given 100 acres of farmland where he retired to.