A small community on the Irwin River, where most of the operators of
Port Denison's fishing fleet live. It is a genuinely charming fishing
village (the ubiquitous Batavia Coast rock lobster is the main catch)
and holiday resort characterised by some beautiful historic buildings
and a main street which has some of the finest stands of Moreton Bay
fig trees anywhere in Australia. Interestingly the trees were planted
in 1906 for a total cost of 16 shillings and four pence.
Dongara and its twin - Port Denison - are vibrant fishing
communities and the self-proclaimed Lobster Capital of the area. The
main Morton Terrace streetscape in Dongara is particularly pretty and
shaded with ancient Morton Bay Figs. There are an increasing number of
holiday makers who are finding Dongara to be an idyllic absolute
beachfront location for a quiet break.
Priory Lodge, a magnificent old building with a very chequered
history which was built as an inn in 1881, sold to the Dominican
Sisters in 1901, became a boarding college in 1926 is now, through some
ironic twist of fate, once again a private hotel.
Royal Steam Roller Flour Mill
On the outskirts of town (and clearly visible from the Brand
Highway) is the Royal Steam Roller Flour Mill which was built in 1894
and served the local wheat growing community until its closure in 1935.
Museum (Old Police Station and Court House)
The Old Police Station and Court House was constructed in 1870 out
of local limestone and jarrah timber which had been shipped in from the
south. Its construction cost was £1260. The policeman at the
time, a certain Constable Watson, was responsible for the
ticket–of–leave men in the area who were working for the
local wheat farmers. A working station until 1984, it then underwent
extensive restoration to bring the station, courthouse and gaol back to
its prime. It is now a museum with a range of displays reminiscent of
the district’s interesting history. The old cells are open for
inspection (they were still in use as recently as 1981) . The Courtroom
replaced the local Irwin Arms as the seat of justice in the area. The
first case was heard in 1871 and involved an ex-convict, Thomas Barker,
who was fined five shillings for 'making use of obscene language at the
cricket ground at Dongarra on 10th April, 1871'. Note that somewhere in
the last 120 years the town has lost an 'r'.
Russ Cottage, on Point Leander Drive, is a charming old cottage
which was constructed in 1868. It was built by Titus Russ, a labourer
for Edward Hamersley, and is regarded as a fine example of worker
housing from the period. Unfortunately it is only open on Sundays and
public holidays between 2.00 p.m. and 4.00 p.m. However visitors at
other times can walk around the beautifully maintained gardens.
Church of St John the Baptist
The Church of St John the Baptist on the corner of Waldeck and
Church streets was built in 1884 out of locally quarried limestone. It
is said that the church bell came from Fremantle Gaol and was
originally used to call ticket-of-leave men back to the gaol at night.
The pews were made from the driftwood from shipwrecks.