|Recordings of Rio Tinto trains transporting Iron Ore in The Pilbara, Western Australia, 2014. Recordings taken from near the switching yard, behind Cape Lambert.
Copyright - recorded & owned by Australian sound designer Jeremy Silver.
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The Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre Wangka Maya says that the name for the Pilbara region derives from the Aboriginal word bilybara, meaning 'dry' in the Nyamal and Banyjima languages. Alternatively, The Western Australia Gas Industry claims that the region takes its name from pilbarra, an Aboriginal word for the mullet (fish). The Pilbara Creek (originally spelt "Pilbarra") is a tributary of the Yule River, a significant river in the region.
The first people to inhabit this region were ancestors of today's Aboriginal people. Between 40,000 and 50,000 years ago, these first nation people lived a complex but sustainable lifestyle based on strict social constructs and land-use management practices. Aboriginal society changed radically after European settlement in the area. Invasion is a term that has been used to more accurately indicate the level of death, displacement and dislocation of Aboriginal people evidenced today. Near the town of Dampier is a peninsula known as Murujuga, which contains a large collection of world heritage listed petroglyphs, dating back thousands of years.
Mining in the area started in 1937 in Wittenoom Gorge. In 2006, it was estimated that 15% of the population of the Pilbara was of Indigenous background, approximately 6,000 people. Working conditions in the pearling and pastoral industries for Aboriginals in the Pilbara region around 1900 have been described as slavery with no wages paid, kidnapping as well as severe and cruel punishments for misbehaviour and absconding all common practices. The first strike by Indigenous people in Australia took place in 1946 in the Pilbara, when Aboriginal pastoral workers walked off the stations in protest at low pay and bad working conditions, a strike that lasted for over three years. Many Pilbara communities struggle with the basics of a healthy life, such as housing, health, education and the many complex effects of colonisation. Aboriginal communities are sited over a number of different places. Many have poor infrastructure. Relations between police and aboriginals are very often tense.
On 3 October 1952, the British conducted their first atomic bomb tests on the Montebello Islands as part of Operation Hurricane. Aboriginals from the Pilbara provided evidence regarding the explosion.
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