Greenough

An all but abandoned historic rural community that developed on the Greenough Plains in the mid 19th century.

One of the most interesting historic towns in Australia, it is claimed by some to be the country's best preserved nineteenth century town. Today the heart of what is essentially a ghost town - a collection of eleven buildings - is administered by the National Trust and open daily. There are guided tours of the village which depart from the National Trust building almost constantly throughout the day. Ph. (08) 9926 1084).

Beyond this National Trust zone lie the ruins of the Wesley Church (the area was settled by large numbers of Wesleyans), the gracious old Grays Store, Clinch's Mill and the Greenough Hotel. As well, a short distance up the road is the companion settlement of Walkaway.

The appeal of Greenough lies in its sense of solidity and certainty. Realistically it is now a ghost town - only the National Trust guides are here to haunt the visitor. Yet in the churches, court house and police station - all of which are built in stone - there is a suggestion that this was a town built to last for eternity.

Greenough/Walkaway Heritage Trail

The Greenough/Walkaway Heritage Trail identifies some 36 buildings on interest in the area including the fascinating Pioneer Cemetery, Clinch's Mill (built in 1858 it continued to operate until 1922 and at its peak became an important supplier of flour to the Murchison gold fields), the elegant ruins of the Wesley Church, Gray's Store (constructed with convict labour in 1861) the Hampton Arms Inn (the first hotel in the area it was built in 1863 by Robert Pearson and is now an excellent restaurant - it has a beautifully decorated ballroom) and the buildings of the National Trust controlled Greenough Hamlet.

Walkaway

Walkaway (9 km east) is a charming village, the main interest for visitors being the Walkaway Station Museum. Housed in the old railway station building, this museum has an excellent display of regional transport, natural resources, weapons and military relics.

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Pioneer Museum

The Pioneer Museum, originally known as Home Cottage and built for the miller John Maley by convicts from Port Gregory in 1862, is now a folk museum concentrating on the agricultural history of the area. It is administered by the Geraldton Historical Society.

The region around Greenough and Walkaway is characterised by river red gums which have given up defying the prevailing winds and bent themselves almost parallel to the earth in an attempt to escape the salt and the wind blowing off the Indian Ocean. The whole area does lie in the lee of a range of sand dunes which protect it from the worst of these winds.

Ellendale Pool

Ellendale Pool, 20 km from Walkaway, is a lovely natural pool at the foot of river cliffs and is surrounded by tall shady trees. It makes a lovely spot for a picnic, barbecue or bird watching.

Heritage buildings

The numerous abandoned buildings and ruins from the former farming community, including former Gray's Store (1861); former Court House (1867); former Police Station Old Gaol (1870); former Miss Duncan's School Room (1865); Old Greenough Cemetery; Maley's Bridge (c.1870); St Catherine's Church of England (1914); St Catherine's Church Hall (1914); St Peter's Catholic Church (1908); former Dominican Convent (1899); St Joseph's School; former Priest's House; Wesley Church (1870); Clinch's Mill (c.1856); former Greenough Hotel; 'Old Store'; Cliff Grange; former Hampton Arms Hotel (1863); 'Raphoe' farmhouse (1860s); 'Mount Pleasant' farmhouse; 'Three Bottle' farmhouse and outbuildings; 'Rock House' ruin and outbuildings; Delowes Cottage; McNeece's Cottage; Bell Cottage and Outbuildings; farmhouse ruin; 'Old Walkaway' cottage; Greenough Farmers' Club Hall; former St James' Church; Pioneer Museum (Maley's Mill and Home Cottage).


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Where is it?

24 km south east of Geraldton in the northern agricultural region.

History of Greenough

The valley where Greenough now stands was first explored by George Grey in 1839. Grey named the area after his sponsor Sir George Bellas Greenough, the then president of the Royal Geographical Society. It was an astute and political gesture. It has been claimed that Grey said the area would become 'the granary of Western Australia'.

In 1851, due to pressure from pastoralists, the explorer A. C. Gregory surveyed 30 000 acres of land which was subsequently broken up into 20 and 30 acre lots. At the time it was the northern-most settlement in Western Australia.

The Greenough Front Flats were first settled in 1852 and within a few years had developed into a highly successful wheat growing area. The people who settled in the area were poor (some were ex-convicts from the Labour Depot at Port Gregory) and many of the farms were prepared for sowing with nothing more than a shovel. Sowing was commonly done by hand and the wheat was reaped with a sickle.

That same year Clinch's Mill was built and houses, usually made from either local limestone or mud bricks, began to go up. In the next decade most of the buildings were constructed. With a population of over 1000 wheat farmers there was an obvious need for a hotel - the Hampton Arms was completed in 1863, a general store - Gray's Store was built in 1861, a police station - it was built by convicts between 1863-1868, and a school (1860). In the early years people lived in the simplest of shelters. It wasn't until the 1870s that residences began to be built in stone.

But the success of the settlement was short-lived. A series of disasters conspired to drive the wheat farmers off the land. A cyclone caused enormous damage in 1872, the area experienced bad flooding in 1888, and the wheat was adversely affected by red rust. These mishaps were enough to persuade many of the farmers to try their luck in the newly discovered goldfields to the east. By 1900 most of the settlers had either left the area of given up wheat farming for grazing. The town was left to fall into disrepair. It wasn't until the 1980s that a concerted effort was made to revitalise the settlement. Today it is one of the premier attractions of the Central West.

Greenough was named from the Greenough River, it having been named by Captain George Grey in 1839 after George Bellas Greenough, President of Royal Geographical Society, which had equipped Grey's expedition. It was never gazetted as a townsite though for all intents and purposes it functioned as one for a period of 30 years.

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