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Captain James Stirling Statue

Captain James Stirling statue

Public Art : Captain James Stirling Statue

Sculptor: © Clement .P. Somers

Date: Unveiled 10th of March, 1979

Description: Bronze statue of Captain James Stirling in full uniform and with an open scroll in hands.

Location: The statue was originally located at the front entrance of the R&I Bank, Barrack Street, until the building was demolished in 1996. The statue was later removed to Foundation Park on Barrack Street, between Perth Town Hall and the Treasury Buildings. Currently, Captain James Stirling is in storage awaiting a new home, while work begins on the revamping the Old Treasury Building. A new location for the statue has yet to be announced.

Funded By: Channel Nine and Radio 6KY

Who Was Captain James Stirling: Admiral Sir James Stirling (28 January 1791 – 22 April 1865) was a Royal Naval Officer who persuaded the British Government in 1828 to establish the Swan River Colony in Western Australia.

He would later become Western Australia’s first Governor and Commander-in-Chief. Stirling ran the settlement from June 1829 until August 1832 before returning to England (where he was knighted). After a two year absence, he returned from August 1834 to December 1838.

In 1834, a few months into his second stint, Stirling led a party, including John Septimus Roe, Thomas Peel and 25 armed troopers to Pinjarra. Their mission? To confront the Binjareb tribe who they believed were behaving aggressively towards settlers. They also feared that the Binjareb people would form an alliance with the Wadjuk people in the Upper Swan and scare off potential settlers to the region. 

Sadly, a confrontation wasn’t really on Stirling’s agenda on the 28th of October 1834. He wanted “decisive action” that would end the attacks “once and for all”. Men armed with double-barrelled shotguns versus men armed with spears and woomeras was never going to end well.

The real truth of what happened on that fateful day will never be known. There is and will always be conflicting reports of how many Aboriginal men, women, and children were massacred. What is known is there were no male prisoners taken alive. Conflicting reports from Stirling and Roe suggested between 15 to 30 Binjareb were left dead, with no mention of the women or children.

Captain Daniel, who was later sent by Stirling to survey the site, believed there were many more killed than officially acknowledged.

Stirling used the massacre as a warning to the Noongar people. If there was any retaliation for the October massacre he told them “no one would be allowed to remain alive on this side of the Mountains”

History Of the Captain Stirling Statue: The Captain James Stirling statue was funded in 1979, by Channel Nine and Radio 6KY, to commemorate the State’s 150th Anniversary.

The statue was originally unveiled outside the front entrance of the R&I Bank building in Barrack Street but was later placed in storage following the demolishing of the building in 1996.

It was only in 2002 that any thought was given to dusting the old captain off and restoring him. In 2002 Housing and Works Minister, Tom Stephens called for expressions of interest from local government and community groups for a new home for Perth’s founder, Captain Stirling. Finally, in 2003, Stirling saw the light of day. Fully restored he was placed in Foundation Park near the spot where the new colony was declared Perth and where marking the day Mrs Helen Dance, the wife of H.M.S. Sulphur’s captain, ceremoniously cut down a tree.

Inscription :

Captain James Stirling
Founder Governor of Western Australia
1829-1838
Unveiled by
His Royal Highness The Price of Wales K.G., K.T., G.C.B., P.C.
on March 10th, 1979
Celebrating the State’s 150th Anniversary

Donated to the City and People of Perth
by Channel Nine and Radio 6KY

Controversy:

In June 2020 a man spray-painted the Captain James Stirling statue the day before the Black Lives Matter protest in Perth. The man sprayed its neck and hands with red paint and also an Aboriginal Flag at the base.

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