HISTORIC GREENOUGH


They were heroes of a different kind, heroes of all ages. People who fought daily battle’s against the elements, isolation, sickness, floods and other disasters

Get an insight into the hardships and living conditions of the people and families, and imagine the degradation and suffering endured by the prisoners who were incarcerated in the cramped cells of the old prison.

It was a place where women gave birth to their babies with no one other than a neighbour to help.

Visit old cemeteries and read the epitaph’s on their tombstones.

Greenough, located between Geraldton and Dongara, is probably best known for its leaning trees, some of which the strong salty winds from the Indian Ocean has caused to grow literally along the ground.

However, since 1978, travellers from the north and south have been fascinated by the historic Central Greenough which has been faithfully restored by the National Trust and is one of the finest examples of the living conditions of the early pioneers of this area.

Today it is possible to take a walk through Central Greenough and for a while experience something of the lifestyle of the first white settlers.

It is worth wondering what it was that brought pioneers to this place in the first place. The answer is quite simple, it was the land, the fertile brown earth that lies on either bank of the nearby twisting, turning Greenough River.

At the time of settlement, mid 1800’s, the Colony was suffering from a lack of grain and the Greenough Flats were considered ideal for wheat. The soil was rich and the land did not need clearing. So by 1857, A.C. Gregory was surveying 20,000 acres to be divided into 10 to 50 acres lots for tillage leases. In that same year the Greenough agricultural community came into being.

Picture the work of these pioneers. After the first rains, fields were tilled with single furrow ploughs, necessitating long hours of back-breaking toil. Seed was thrown from a bag over the shoulder. Wheat was reaped with a sickle and hay cut with a scythe.

By 1858 the population was nearly 100, and the following year saw the whole of the Front Flats occupied.

Early homes were often built in the lee of the hills for protection from the wind. At first sun-dried brick bats were used. These were made from a mixture of sand, clay and water, moulded into shape and left to dry for a few days. The walls were rendered with pug and then whitewashed. Few buildings had ceilings, and floors were made from broken termite nests and water and then polished with bullock’s blood.

Later, limestone from the Back Flats was used in construction. Among these were Gray’s Store, (1861), Clinches Mill (1858, with additions later), Miss Duncan’s School (1865), Wesley Church (1867), Greenough Hotel (1868), St James Church (1868), and Police Station (1870). There was also a complex of buildings erected around the turn of the century by the Roman Catholic Church.

Almost all of the more notable or public buildings that came into existence once Greenough was established were built from this limestone. Most important was the Convict Bridge in1864-5.

In the late 1860s hardships were heightened when red rust ravaged crops. Drought years and severe flooding followed. The district became impoverished. Many people were forced to leave, allowing smaller lots to be formed into larger farming units.

An era had come to an end.

Because of the bravery, courage and foresight of these early pioneers, their descendants, and new people to the area, now enjoy living in one of the richest farming and historical areas in Western Australia.

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