Skip to Content Skip to Navigation Skip to Sub Navigation

Long-awaited recognition ‘a benchmark’ for the nation

Wadandi custodians and descendants of South West man Samuel Yebble Isaacs joined representatives from the federal, state and local governments in Margaret River on Friday to mark the formal renaming of a new locality in the region to honour the Noongar hero.

The new locality of Yebble was excised from Gracetown and Burnside, not far from the land gifted to Mr Isaacs and approved by Landgate with support from the WA State Government.

Mr Isaacs was instrumental in the rescue of passengers from the shipwrecked SS Georgette at Redgate Beach in 1876, alongside 16 year old Grace Bussell.

The story made headlines around the world when Mr Isaacs saw the shipwrecked SS Georgette and its terrified passengers in dangerous waters.

Mr Isaacs rode his horse to the Bussell family home at Wallcliffe House to raise the alarm. From there, he and Ms Bussell rode down steep cliffs at speed and into the water to rescue the terrified passengers from the sinking ship and treacherous sea.

Over four hours the pair saved 54 passengers, pulling them to the safety of the beach.

Having only received a bronze medallion in contrast to Grace Bussell’s silver medallion, Mr Isaacs was later awarded 100 acres of land in Margaret River for his efforts – the first land grant to an Aboriginal person in WA.

The Yebble locality includes the Ellensbrook Homestead and Meekadarabee Falls, which are both of historical and cultural significance to the Noongar people.

Speaking on Friday, Samuel Isaac’s great grandson Dr Robert Isaacs said the family welcomed the dedication, after a number of delays caused by bushfires, COVID-19 and poor weather.

“It has long been a dream of mine to honour the true recognition of Sam Isaacs,” he said, before detailing early plans to rename Bussell Highway and work with the Undalup Association to have the local man appropriately honoured.

With mountains of red tape to achieve that proposal, Landgate suggested the excising of the Yebble locality, a plan which received overwhelming public support and backing from the Shire of Augusta Margaret River.

“The Shire has now created a benchmark for shires around the State and the country to follow these examples,” Dr Isaacs said, noting ongoing support in particular from AMR Shire councillor, Ian Earl.

“I feel honoured, our family feels honoured, that this is the first time a new locality has been named in the Shire since its beginning.

“We feel that our ancestors, and my great grandfather will be remembered and equally recognised with Grace Bussell… and will take the right place in our history, and in our nation.”

Member for Warren-Blackwood Jane Kelsbie MLA said the day was important for the Wadandi people, the Isaacs family, and the community.

“It reflects the strong, positive history between traditional owners and residents,” Ms Kelsbie said.

“I would like to acknowledge the collaboration between Dr Wayne Webb of the Undalup Association and the AMR Shire which has led to such a significant milestone that we celebrate here today.”

Read original Augusta Margaret River Mail article online here.