Great Northern Highway

Road repair Great Northern Highway.

The past week (between rain storms), we have been out with the main-roads maintenance crew filling in pot holes on a stretch of highway commonly known as Batty Bog.  Locations of note we were working in also included Waddington, New Norcia, Walebing and Glentromie.

Batty Bog:

History: After the Rudd family took up Tatapeny in 1892, a family relative, George Batty, came to Tatapeny with a wagon and team of horses. 200 – 300 metres from the highway, towards Tatapeny, was a bog in which George Batty got his team of horses bogged.


Batty Bog Country


Buildings at the settlement included the Victoria Plains Hotel (8 rooms + 3 rooms detached), Stable 60ft x 24ft, General Store & Building (6 rooms), Blacksmith’s shop (2 rooms), Carpenter’s Shop, Bootmaker’s shop, Hall (appeared later) – moved to a farm in Miling and also a racecourse, Sports Club.
Events in Waddington history:
1871 Victoria Plains Road Board formed.
10-Jan-1887 New Year celebrated by a Cricket Match near the Victoria Plains Hotel on the “worst ground for cricket that I ever saw”

17-Jan-1887 Old man shot in leg by a man supposed to be “under the influence of delirium tremens” at the Victoria Plains Hotel. In the report, it appears that the rooms were shared (3 men in this case). “Bar Parlour” keeper was Mr John Brown. The offender was sentenced to 8 years gaol in the Supreme Count (31-Mar-1887).

Feb May-1888 Many advertisements promoting Wongan Goldfields placed by John Brown, Waddington, Victoria Plains

19-Dec-1888 Gold was reported as discovered in the Wongan Hills, 30 miles east of Waddington.

26-Dec-1888 Waddington Boxing Day Athletic Sports

04-Mar-1890 Advertisement for sale of Blacksmith and Wheelwright’s shop with Cottage. Apply to John Brown Victoria Plains Hotel, Waddington

08-Apr-1891 Victoria Plains Racing Club Meeting

08-Aug-1891 First Annual Ploughing competition held at Mr John Brown’s field, Waddington, Victoria Plains

1892 Midland Railway completed

25-Feb-1893 Mortgagee’s sale incl. Victoria Plains Hotel (8 rooms + 3 rooms detached), Stable 60ft x 24ft, Store & Building (6 rooms),
Blacksmith’s shop (2 rooms), Carpenter’s Shop, Garden, Vineyard, Bootmaker’s shop, “known as Waddington Townsite”, Victoria Plains.

07-Oct-1898 Education District registration for 21-Aug-1902 Victoria Plains Farmers Association held its 11th Annual ploughing competition at Waddington.

1904 Liquor License lapsed due to poor state of Hotel.

04-Dec-1907 Liquor Licence application by A.C.Norwood for wayside house previously called Victoria Plains Hotel refused.

10-Jun-1908 Liquor Licence application by A.C.Norwood for wayside house refused.

11-Mar-1914 Victoria Plains Racing Club licence disqualification, due to racing without a licence, removed.

29-Apr-1917 Reported that Private C. Norwood, wounded in France. Parents reside at Waddington.

Aug-1925 Railway to Miling completed.

08-Sep-1927 Victoria Plains Racing Club renamed Waddington Racing Club.

26-Feb-1930 Victoria Plains Race Meeting held at Waddington.
31-Dec-1927 Waddington Sports Committee Race Meeting.
26-Nov-1932 Victoria Plains R.S.L. held a dance at the Waddington Hall.
31-Dec-1933 Annual meeting of the Victoria Plains Race Club held at Waddington.

03-Oct-1931 Victoria Plains Agricultual Society postponed its next annual show, to be held at Waddington, for 12 months.

31-Mar-1936 A 21st Birthday Party was held at the Waddington Hall.
25-Sep-1937 (at Waddington ) Annual show of the Victoria Plains Agricultural Society.

24-Sep-1938 Victoria Plains Agricultural Society show day and evening ball.
12-Apr-1951 Victoria Plains Agricultural Society renamed Waddington Agricultural Society’

All that’s left of Waddington the Victoria Plains Hotel
Waddington ‘Ballroom’ (ruins)

For more information heritage related including the Waddington Grave site see here:


Quairading-York Rd

Road  base sampling Quairading-York Rd.

Last day of sampling moving through Mawson (East Beverley)



Again another ghost town along the York to Quairading railway line.

When the Greenhills – Quairading Railway was opened in 1908 the siding at this place was named Warraling after the nearby Warraling Well. Warraling is an Aboriginal word for the crested parrot, although another interpretation is “ing” meaning ‘place of’ and “warra” meaning ‘bad, beware, lazy’.


In 1910 the government decided to survey some lots at the Warraling Siding, and the Warraling Townsite was gazetted in 1912. In 1914 the Railways Department advised that Warraling was being confused with Naraling, and asked for one of the names to be changed. At the suggestion of the Chief Draftsman in the Lands Department, the railway siding of Warraling was changed to Mawson in 1914. The name of the townsite was also amended in 1915. The name honours Sir Douglas Mawson, the Antarctic explorer.

Slwa B1982990 1
1912 map of Warraling later named Mawson in 1915
Google satellite image of Mawson these days

Ooooo.. I just can’t wait to get to Quairading to meet the Grain Family Wesley, Olley, Bazil and Lucy one day 🙂



Quairading-York Rd

Road  base sampling Quairading-York Rd.

Moving through the Kauring and Balkuling area


Yet another ghost town along the York to Quairading railway line.

The townsite of Balkuling was gazetted in 1920. The town originated as a siding on the Greenhills-Quairading railway line which was established in 1907, originally named Balkiling in 1907 it was renamed Balkuling in 1908. The name of the town is Aboriginal in origin and is thought to mean walking and is also the name of the locale. Balkuling was once a thriving wheatbelt town with many houses, shops and garages. A school was opened in the town hall in 1922 and continued until 1947 apart from a couple of closures due to lack of students. A new school was brought in from Bellakabella in 1947.

This map from 1920 shows the town layout and streets.


Google maps satellite image shows the town as it is today 🙁


Found another one of those beer trees, last time I was working in this area it also had two pairs of bras hanging in them. Must be a party tree 🙂


If you’re wondering where I’m getting the old maps from look here:


Quairading-York Rd

Road  base sampling Quairading-York Rd.

Moving along through the Greenhills and Kauring areas


The Needling Hills on the right. The highest point – 350m is the next highest landmark in the Shire of York after Mt. Bakewell on the left which is 417m high.



This name comes from the Aboriginal name for the area which
sounded like Greenilling. Note Aboriginal place names in this area
often end with one of the following “ine”, “in” or “ing” whereas
down south the common ending is “up”. These suffixes mean
“place of”.

Club Hotel Road now leads to farm paddocks, Greenhills was once a
thriving town in earlier times, with up to three hotels. One of the
early hotels was removed bit by bit and carted by horse and dray to
Perenjori where it was re-erected.

1906 Ernest Edward Giles designed the Railway Hotel which still operates today in Greenhills.


The front bar has an unusual counter top and history, I have been told it was purchased from the Mickelberg brothers many years ago.

Green Hills Bar


No longer associated with a town, The Greenhills St Andrew’s Anglican Church was built by the local Penny family in 1912 and maintained by them thereafter. The church is rare in Western Australia as an extant, in use, timber weatherboard church with a highly finished interior, and is a good representative example of a rural church of Federation Carpenter Gothic style of architecture.



The original church (Church of England), fell into disrepair and eventual ruin, existed where the cemetery currently is located.  This was the first church in Western Australia with a thatched roof built on it.


KAURING (Cowring – Place of Parrots)

The town site was marked out in little blocks in an early survey but it
never happened! That is until several years ago when someone
discovered a map with little blocks shown, and bought the lot and
proceeded to sell it off.



An unusual tree found on the outskirts of Kauring, Im told it is the swan draft species only one of two in the area.


They sure don’t make fences like this these days …


History lesson for the day is:

The Penny Family


Henry Penny Senior of Green Hills Farm from which the township 24 km from York takes its name, was born at Bowerchalk near Salisbury Wiltshire, England in 1835. In his twenty-first year Henry Penny came to Australia, arriving in Fremantle on the ship “Berkshire” the trip extending over 103 days.

He made his way to the Avon Valley and had his early colonial experiences working on a farm at Katrine near Northam and later at Tipperary, York a property owned by Samuel Burges Esq. Originally he leased a small farm of 40 acres and added to his income by working in the flourishing sandalwood industry. In 1867 he was in a position to seek a larger holding and secured 200 acres of the pastoral lease of the Parker Bros. He thus formed the nucleus of the fine farming estate so prominent in the Greenhills District today. A true pioneer of agriculture, he added to his holdings and surrounded his fine shingle-roofed Georgian Homestead and farm buildings with over 200 acres. At the property today rest the remains (and receipt) for a Sunshine harvester purchased in 1903 for the sum of one hundred and seven pence. It was the sixteenth “Sunshine” produced in Australia and came to Greenhills from Melbourne. Henry Penny’s business interests included many shops in the nearby township of Northam.

Mr Penny was one of the founders and the first chairman of the Greenhills Road Board and was an active participant in all affairs of public concern. He was a key figure in the erection of an Agricultural Hall which was the first institution of its kind in Western Australia.

IMAG1168 (1)
All that remains of the first Agricultural Hall to be built in Western Australia in approx 1895

The Church of England was built in 1882 and Mr Penny played a leading role in securing the extension of the railway to this district.

Mr Penny returned to his homeland may times, on occasions taking his daughters for up to six months at a time. No doubt they were very much loved and admired by those in England and daughter Leah Penny from her marriage to Charles Mills produced Beryl, a beautiful young lady who in 1926 was crowned the first Miss Australia. Whilst in England Mr Penny bought equipment such as boots, ploughs and spades to sell to those on their way to the Goldfields as Greenhills was the main route at that time.

The Government Gazette of 1891 notes that Sir John Forrest came to Greenhills to look at the extension of the railway. “By this time the encomiums of the visitors had left nothing further to be said in praise of Green Hills as a ploughman’s paradise. Then turning again onto the main road at its junction with the route to Boonmull and past the new foundations for the Agricultural Hall and a hundred yards further and we were in the hospitable gates of Mr Penny’s homestead where Mrs Penny and her lady friends had prepared a sumptuous repast…” Green Hills Farm is now called Korrawilla.


Quairading-York Rd

Road  base sampling Quairading-York Rd

Continuing in Mount Hardy / Greenhills region, we pass Marley Pool siding part of the railway line from York to Bruce Rock.

There is nothing left of the Marley Pool siding and little written about it. The only things I found about Marley Pool was a drowning and a traffic accident that took the lives of two 19yo soldiers in the 1950’s.

The turn off to the Marley Pool siding is also the entry to Greenhills. Greenhills I was told by a local, was once the last train stop from Perth for miners during the gold rush.

On 9 September 1897, construction commenced on a line from York to Greenhills with the line opening on 1 September 1898.  On 24 April 1908, it was extended to Quairading and to Bruce Rock on 4 July 1913.

The original railway line still exists after all these years.




Today’s history lesson is about the Seabrook Family from which Seabrook road was named.

John Seabrook Senior arrived on the “Chieftain” at Swan River Colony in July 1840. He was a farmer from Shropshire, England. His direct descendant Tony Seabrook with his wife Julia and children Matthew, Jon and Amanda still farm Seabourne today, a property acquired by John Junior in 1887.

John Junior was an adventurer and at one time travelled to Roebourne in the Pilbara Region of WA and took up a station grant which he named “Croydon”. On returning to the Avon Valley John married Evelyn Parker in 1878 at Mourambine Church near Brookton, a church that John had helped to build. Shortly after the marriage John left for the North West and drove 2000 ewes from Brookton to Croydon, a journey of over a thousand miles taking seven months.
Eva took with her a chain stitch treadle sewing machine that had been her sixteenth birthday present, however it was dropped into deep water while being unloaded off the ship at Roebourne. Luckily pearl divers recovered it, returned it to her and the machine continued to be used for three generations. The machine was specially imported from England and was thought to be the first in Western Australia. In 1973 the Seabrook Family kindly donated it to the Residency Museum in York.

By 1886 John and Eva had returned to York and settled on the property they called Seabourne. Their son Wyborn who was born on the station in 1883, attended Mr Bennett’s school for young gentlemen in York. In 1889 Wyborn became the first Head Boy of Guildford Grammar School. He continued the long tradition of farming at Seabourne and his son Peter later took over the responsibility from him. Peter fought in the Middle East with the 2nd28th Battalion and was one of the renowned “Rats of Tobruk”.



Quairading-York Rd

Road  base sampling Quairading-York Rd

Continuing in Mount Hardy / Greenhills region (until the rain and wind set in).

Today’s history lesson is about William Mackie from which Mackie road and Mt Mackie were named.

330px-William Mackie

William Henry Mackie (1799-1860), advocate-general and senior magistrate was born on 17 November 1799 at Cochin, India.

He arrived in Western Australia in the Caroline in October 1829 as a private settler, though possibly with hopes or even a recommendation for a legal position. In deciding to migrate he was probably influenced by his cousin, Captain Frederick Irwin, with whom he was further connected by the marriage of his sister and Irwin’s brother. The property Mackie and Irwin brought entitled them to a large land grant; they jointly took up 3240 acres (1311 ha) at Henley Park on the Upper Swan, and another 7000 acres (2833 ha) on the Avon between Beverley and York.

On 9 December 1829 Lieutenant-Governor (Sir) James Stirling appointed Mackie and seven other colonists justices of the peace, and formed a constabulary to preserve law and order. Although Stirling’s instructions did not authorize criminal punishments, he thus provided for some continuity of the legal control to which migrants had been accustomed in England. These first measures, six months after the colony’s foundation, had become necessary because of the increase of petty crime and drunkenness.

Mackie was also highly regarded in private life. At Whitehall, his town house in William Street near the river jetty, he had a much-admired garden, and the Henley Park estate flourished largely through the work of his employee, Richard Edwards. He was on the committee of the Vineyard Society, which in the 1840s began the development of the botanical gardens in Perth now known as the Stirling Gardens. Well read, Mackie was secretary of the Western Australian Book Society in the 1830s. He played a leading part in the Western Australian Missionary Society which made an abortive attempt to found an Aboriginal mission at Upper Swan in 1836. He was a benefactor of All Saints’ Church of England, which was built on land donated from the Henley Park estate, and in whose graveyard he was buried. Opened in 1839, the church was the oldest in the State still in use in 1966. A bachelor, he was survived by a cousin, John Coningham Mackie, who arrived soon after him in Western Australia to take up farming at York.



As a side note, on the 7th of August 1839 Ensign Robert Dale and William Locke Brockman climbed the far side of Mt Mackie, becoming the first Europeans to see the Avon Valley.


Part of the old York to Merredin road. I guess this will be covered up and lost once the road is widened. Speaking of lost roads…


Whilst researching Wooroloo, I found on the bottom of the map a reference to the York road. Prior to the Great Eastern Highway and Great Southern Highway the road use to be called King Dick’s Road.

I wonder why they changed the name…

King Dick

In 1847 the line that Chauncy’s road took was not popular with York residents. They found that it had to cross too many gullies and several very sandy patches. Instead, they favoured a route which passed further to the north. This route, known as ‘King Dick’s line,’ had been shown to them by a local aboriginal known as King Dick.  The route ran on the northern side of Lake Manaring. It was shorter, traversed fewer gullies and there were no sandy patches. The settler’s agitation went unheeded by the government and so they took matters into their own hands. In October 1848, a new road was laid out, funded through private subscriptions.  In 1850 the government yielded and convict labour was introduced to maintain the York road with the ‘King Dick’s Line’ proclaimed as a public high road.


Quairading-York Rd

Road  base sampling Quairading-York Rd

We have moved closer to York and have started sampling out at SLK 14.3. Mount Hardy / Greenhills area.

It’s mind boggling the amount of history contained along this road, and I thought the old railway with its forgotten towns and sidings was interesting.

Some history of the area for those interested, as there is far too much for just one blog to write about, I will attempt to do a bit each day:

The location for our morning pre-start meetings for this job is located at the junction of  Marwick Rd and the Quairading-York Rd at a place once called Cornhill.

So today’s history lesson is about the Marwick family from which the road is named.

Marwick Rd, York

The Marwick family are central to the history of York and Western Australia.

William Marwick senior was born in Emneth England in 1833.  In 1852 at the age of 18 the shores of the largely undeveloped lands of Australia and the lure of gold saw him board the ship Sir Walter Raleigh in Plymouth arriving in Fremantle in June 1852.

Walking 97 km from Perth to York in a single day he commenced work for Mr Burges at Tipperary earning 20 pounds a year for the next seven years. Through this he gradually acquired his own land and like so many other early pioneers in this district got his real start from the flourishing sandalwood industry.

Together with his four sons he acquired and farmed over 20,000 acres of prime Western Australian land.  He retired to England in 1897, leaving his sons to work the family properties as a joint business, Marwick Brothers Estate.   Always committed to breeding fine pedigree stock, however, at the age of 80 years he returned with a boatload of some of the world’s finest rams.

Today the name of Marwick is synonymous with success and endeavour throughout this Avon District and beyond. In addition to farming interests members of the Marwick Family perform many public roles.

Warren Marwick (1869-1955) was an outstanding member of an outstanding pioneering family. One of the sons of William Marwick, they grew crops productively in the York district, and Warren, in particular, gained a reputation as one of the country’s most respected breeder of high quality sheep and horses.

With the opening of the Goldfields in the 1890’s the Marwick’s expanded their enterprise eastwards and Warren was the first farmer to take up the challenge of growing crops in the Southern Cross district. The success of his trials eventually led to the opening of the whole of the eastern wheat belt which now contributes substantially to the agricultural wealth of this State.

About the same time, Warren Marwick and his brothers developed an extensive coaching and carrying business in conjunction with the railway at Northam and in the Goldfields and were proprietors of the Coolgardie Coaching Company which later changed its name to Cobb and Co here in Western Australia.

Marwick’s Shed

Marwick’s Shed was the point of departure to the goldfields or other destinations and contained the necessary facilities for stabling, storage and vehicle maintenance.  Fodder produced on Marwick’s land was milled and stored on the premises, meeting the needs of the business and also supplying other outlets. It remains one of the York’s more unusual, rustic and visually memorable buildings, and is considered to be a local landmark.

Warren Marwick was not simply a successful farmer and businessman but a prominent community man, leader and mentor. He was a committeeman and president of the York Agricultural Society, the York Municipal Council and the York Road Board for many years and, in a wider sphere, a member of the Legislative Council of Western Australia.

He was a founding director of Wesfarmers, now one of Australia’s largest and most successful companies and served for 37 years during the crucial foundation years of the organisation.  The first meeting of Wesfarmers was held in the York Mill.

Mt Hardey:

Mount Hardey townsite is located in the central agricultural region, 107 km east of Perth and 10 km east of York. A railway line from York to Greenhills was opened in 1898, and Mount Hardey established as one of the sidings on the railway line. It was also referred to as the Six Mile, being six miles from York. Following a request from the local member of Parliament town lots were surveyed, and the townsite of Mount Hardey gazetted in 1905.
Mount Hardey derives its name from the nearby feature of the same name. The feature name was first recorded in 1835, and honours John Wall Hardey, 1802-1885, farmer and Methodist preacher. His property at York was named Mount Hardey.

There is very little left of this town except a few houses along the road. I found this old map showing how it once was and where the railway station was located.

Mt Hardy


Quairading-York Rd

Road  base sampling Quairading-York Rd

We had a day off while they tested the first 10 road base samples. Today we were back to the same locations sampling closer to the road this time.

It rained midday making visibility poor, so we had to stop for a short while. Fortunately, it fined up and we were able to complete sampling albeit a little later in the day and just before another cold front set in.


Canola crops are coming along well in this part of the land.  Did you know that canola is Australia’s third biggest crop, and is used often by wheat farmers as a break crop to improve soil quality.

Canola was developed through conventional plant breeding from rapeseed, an oilseed plant already used in ancient civilization as a fuel. The word “rape” in rapeseed comes from the Latin word

The word “rape” in rapeseed comes from the Latin word rapum meaning turnip. Turnip, rutabaga, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, mustard, and many other vegetables are related to the two natural canola varieties commonly grown, which are cultivars of B. napus and B. rapa. The change in name serves to distinguish it from natural rapeseed oil, which has much higher erucic acid content.

Canola was originally a trademark name of the Rapeseed Association of Canada, and the name was a condensation of “Can” from Canada and “ola” from other vegetable oils like Mazola,  but is now a generic term for edible varieties of rapeseed oil in North America and Australia. In Canada, an official definition of canola is codified in Canadian law.


IMAG1106 (1)

Another strange looking retaining drop post, unfortunately, the  Australian Patent website is down so I can’t research when this type of wire retainer was developed. I’m sure I did see it when I was researching star pickets.



Quairading-York Rd

Road  base sampling Quairading-York Rd

After several days of rain, it’s off to a new location and a different job.

We are now out at Dulbelling, Mainroads will widening the Quairading to York Road which requires soil sampling in and around the current road. So for the next few days/weeks, we will be out and about somewhere between Dangin and York.


Had a quick look at the railway just across from where we were working at the Quairading-York Rd / Jacobs Well Rd intersection. The manufacture date for this part of the track was 1901.



This line is part of the York to Bruce Rock line which is unfortunately no longer in use.



Jacobs Well from my reaserch was the site of an aboriginal family’s dwelling. It later became a watering stop for the sandalwood cutters and the Parker family as they drove their sheep from Dangin to York for the sales. Thomas and Toolin took up the homestead block at Jacob’s siding, later to be acquired by Fred Green from Beverley (and England prior to that) In 1907 Green and his family settled on the block and produced their first crop in 1908. Harry Green handled the wheat stack. He and his wife also bought bulk vegetables from Perth and distributed them at the siding. A government School was built in Green’s paddock in 1911, at which time the Progress association was already active, and the Jacob’s Well Hall opened in 1912, until which time social events were conducted in the school. The school closed in 1940. There never was a store at Jacob’s well, most settlers went to Beverley or York, and as the roads improved, Dangin became more convenient, and the Jacob’s Well settlement declined.

Dulbelling also once had a school, the school was open between 1910 and 1933. Some of the original plantings of peppercorns, garden plants and sugar gums have survived. Some of the early settlers who attended the school include; Durham, Taylor, Sewell, Kirkwood, Warrell. Apart from that and a minister called Fergie Reid (1849 – 1924) who settled in the area in retirement, I can’t find much about the area from which the location Dulbelling is named.


Not sure if this is a Kingia or Xanthorrhoea, won’t be able to tell till it flowers. Even so, it is quite tall and to find one with three heads is quite unusual.

These trees grow slowly on average 1½ centimetres per year for the Kingia and 2½ centimetres per year for the Xanthorrhoea, which makes this plant somewhere between 120 to 200 years old…


Great Northern Hwy

Road repair Great Northern Hwy

Finally finished out at Muchea and now out at Chittering.


Blue skies and sheep, living the dream. Kiwi culture rubbing off on me 🙂



I have just spent the last few hours finding out the history of Chittering,

At best if you google it you will find a Wikipedia entry stating that:

“The area was first explored by George Fletcher Moore in 1836 and has been known by that name since Moore recorded it on his maps. The name is Aboriginal in origin and is thought to mean place of the willie wagtails.”

When reserching George Fletcher Moore it turns out that he kept a journal which was published in the West Australian newspaper in serial during 1881 and 1882, then later turned into a book “Diary of Ten Years Eventful Life of an Early Settler in Western Australia and also A Descriptive Vocabulary of the Language of the Aborigines” in 1884.

If you are at all interested in the history of Western Australia I would suggest that you read his book. You can view it online here .

If you have an original 1884 copy of this book it’s worth around  AUD $3,850.00