Northampton, nestled in the valley of Nokarena Brook, 47 kilometres
north of Geraldton, Northampton is a small farming community which had
its origins in mining when, in 1842, copper was discovered in the area.
The town is known for the many wildflowers which grow by the side of
the road in the area, and Aboriginal cave paintings at the Bowes River
Northampton has been classified as a historic town by the National
Trust of Australia. It exudes a friendly, country charm with historic
character buildings lining the main street surrounded by rich, golden
Today the town boasts three buildings of genuine historic interest -
Chiverton House (which is now the local museum), the Church of St Mary
in Ara Coeli which was one of the many buildings in the Central West
designed by the architect-priest Monsignor John Hawes, and the ruins of
Gwalla Church, a true experiment in non–denominational religion
built by the ex–convict Joseph Horrocks.
The Church of St Mary in Ara Coeli, which is located in Hampton
Street, was constructed by the famous Western Australian
architect-priest Monsignor John Hawes (see introduction for details of
Hawes' life). Between 1915-1939 Hawes designed and helped to build a
large number of churches and church buildings in the Central West.
Next door is the Convent of the Sacred Heart building, which now
offers accommodation. It was the home of the Presentation Sisters from
1919 to 1983.
Chiverton House was built by Captain Samuel Mitchell, the manager of
the Geraldine Mine, between 1867-1874. It is claimed that convicts
built the building. If this is the case it must have been one of the
last structures built by convicts in Australia as transportation ceased
in 1868. Chiverton House later housed the local branch of the Western
Australian Bank and today it is the town's museum.
Chiverton Museum is one of the most fascinating and successful in
Australia. It has managed to collect unusual pieces of memorabilia
including a fiendish attempt to produce a rolling shaver which looks
like it would scar its victim for life. There are also some very
interesting old kitchen utensils including a strange butter cutter. The
museum's emphasis is on the unusual rather than the common place and
thus it is well worth a visit. Ph (08) 9934 1215.
(48 km north west) Originally the port for the Murchison region and
called Port Gregory, the township of Gregory is today a small tourist
and fishing village. Gregory is a fascinating settlement where convict
history, fishing, wheat lands and 'getting away from it all' holidaying
are an enthralling mix. There can be few places in Australia where
wheat fields grow right next to huge white sand dunes, where an
historic convict settlement stands on the shores of a pink lake, and
where a reef runs parallel to the coast forming a natural breakwater
for a small harbour.
(23 km west)
A traditional holiday, camping and fishing village for early
settlers in the 1850's. Today it is popular with those who enjoy the
outdoors and fishing, nature and history.
The town is named after an early resident, Joseph Lucas Horrocks,
who was sentenced to 14 years transportation for forgery and arrived in
Fremantle as a convict in 1852. In Fremantle he worked in the medical
section of the convict settlement and, due to a chronic shortage of
medical officers in the colony, was appointed medical attendant for the
new settlement of Port Gregory in 1853. He was given an unconditional
pardon in 1856 and spent the rest of his life (he died in 1865) working
in the Northampton-Champion Bay area running a store, agitating for
improved conditions for convicts, and building the Gwalla
non-denominational church (it had separate Anglican and Nonconformists
pulpits and a reading desk for anti-ritualists) in Northampton.
Horrocks is buried in the cemetery.
The major natural attraction in the area is Hutt Lagoon, a
remarkable pink lagoon which is coloured by the presence of algae known
as beta caratine in the waters. It is mined both for its salt and for
its food colouring properties. Hutt Lagoon is passed on the way to
Kalbarri National Park
Kalbarri National Park is famous for its spectacular scenery, which
features rugged coastal cliffs and towering river gorges, and its
magni‘®Ňcent springtime display of wild‘®«owers. The 80-kilometre Murchison
River, rising in the west, has cut a 170-metre deep canyon through the
park on its way to the sea at Gantheaume Bay.
Reputedly the most haunted house in Western Australia, Oakabella and
its adjoining 50 000 acres was first taken up around 1851 and changed
hands three times before it came to the possession of the Jackson
family in 1910. Oakabella Homestead was built in 1860, and still
contains some of the original furniture, complete with family
portraits, which is on display. The homestead consists of a house
containing thirteen rooms, complete with cat bones around that had been
built into the doorframes, which apparently the first settlers had done
to ward off evil spirits. This clearly was to no avail, as the
homestead is said to be haunted by at least three ghosts. There is also
a barn, a shearing shed, a blacksmith's workshop, stables and a
cookhouse. Just a throw of the stone away from the homestead is a gorge
with indiginous rock art and artifacts, all suggesting it was an
aboriginal meeting place with a burial site nearby.
You can take a tour of the homestead, which includes the retelling
of the ghosts stories. Visitors can wander about the property, and
enjoy refreshment in a small café. Oakabella Home stead,
Starling Road, off North West Coastal Highway between Geraldton and
Northampton. Ph (08) 9925 1033