Great Northern Hwy

Road repair Great Northern Hwy

We are out at Muchea, on a quite stretch of road called the Great Northern Highway. I wish.. its anything but quite.

 


Muchea is a suburb of the Shire of Chittering. The town’s name comes from the Aboriginal word “Muchela” which means in Nyoongar ‘water hole’, referring to the abundance of water in Muchea.

The area was first surveyed as farmland in 1845 as part of a property to be owned by George Moore. The opening of a railway siding in the area between 1892 and 1898 caused permanent structures to be built and by 1903 farm lots were surveyed close to the siding. The townsite was later gazetted in 1904.

Back in the late 1890’s a railways signwriter was thought to have misspelt the original name “Muchela”, dropping the ‘L’ and the new “Muchea” spelling prevailed.

 

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Muchea Well Site

Just across from where the old railway station used to stand, is the Muchea Well Site. The commemorative plaque states:

Muchea Well Site

The old pump situated near the rail station at Muchea was a very important place in the early days. A watering place for all horse teams that carried many tons of produce to the siding. In 1895 the contract to dig the well was awarded to Mr James Anderson for the amount of 30 Pounds. The well was dug and lined with bricks by Mr James Horton and Mr James Payne. The Gingin Road Board was responsible for the small settlement at the time. The turning of this small wheel was done by manpower. The wheel works the pump on the same system as windmills of today.

The main users of this watering point were the many teams who carted their waggon loads of chaff from the Chittering Valley. The families who brought tons of chaff to be railed to Kalgoorlie and to the Metropolitan area were the Hart brothers Ted and George. John O’Neil and his sons Henry, Charlie, Ken and Harold. the Morley brothers Henery and Alec and also the Martins. Many families were living in the valley at that time. Bob Martin and his sons Henry, Frank and Ted and near them were the brothers Levi, Afria, Andrew and Bob.

The orange orchards in the valley produce good crops and these were also brought into the Muchea siding to be railed to Perth. The first two orchardists were Les and Arthur Payne and Mr and Mrs Hart Their orchard was still producing first class fruit up to a few years ago.

This pump was refurbished with the courtesy of:

MucheaProgress Recreation and Sporting Association Inc.
Tiwest Joint Venture
Chittering Shire Council
Historic Fence by Bob Rado and Muchea Historic Committee

This plaque is to Commemorate the re-opening of this well on June 26th. 1993 by the Hon. Richard Lewis, Minister for Heritage.

The Western Australian  Government heritage site states:

The old pump was situated near the railway station in Muchea. It was a watering place for the horse teams transporting goods to the railway siding. It was also a watering place for the wild brumbies in the area who came at sunset during the drier summer months when the bush water holes had dried up.


 

What I didn’t know was only a few hundred meters for the well once stood this:

Muchea Tracking Station

In 1960, the Muchea Tracking Station was established about 4 kilometres outside of town as part of NASA’s Mercury project. Communications Technician Gerry O’Connor became the first Australian to speak with an astronaut on 20 February 1962, when he contacted John Glenn aboard Friendship 7 on his first pass over the West Australian coast.

A small plaque has been installed on the spot occupied by the Communications Technician’s console which reads: “This plaque is to mark the spot where an Australian first spoke to a space traveller“.

Muchea Tracking Station was closed in February 1964, after the end of the Mercury Project. It was replaced by the Carnarvon Tracking Station for the Gemini and Apollo projects. Although the Muchea Tracking Station no longer exists, the Shire of Chittering has erected a small display about its history.

For further information regarding the tracking station look here…


 

Another pleasant surprise was finding this just off the road from where I was working:

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Banksia menziesii, commonly known as firewood banksia

I haven’t seen one of these in years.


 

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