Central Greenough Historic SettlementOn 25. September 2019 by Cookie
The Central Greenough Historic Settlement is located a few kilometres north of Dongara. It consists of buildings built from 1863 to 1913 and has been restored by the National Trust. The settlement gives an insight in the lives and everyday live of the people who lived here until the start of the 20th century.
Lieutnant George Grey, whose ship wrecked near what today is Kalbarri (the first streets in Kalbarri were named after him and his crew) came across this land on his way home to Perth in 1839 and recognised the land around the Greenough River as fertile soil. Only in 1857, the land was split into smaller allotments and the agricultural use began. At first, no settlement was planned, but when the area got more popular in the 1860s, the Central Greenough Settlement was founded as administrative centre (with a police station, a courthouse, a school and a post office). Not long after, two churches (one catholic, one anglican) were built and some cottages, a shop and other buildings joined the settlement. In the heyday of this area, around 1000 people lived here.
Unfortuately, the crops were not resistant to a fungus named “red dust”, and the agriculture was less successful than they had hoped. When in 1888 a big flood damaged many fields and buildings, lots of people gave up and moved inland, to try their luck on the gold fields, or to newly explored areas. A few people, however, stayed, and nuns started a small convent with an adjecent school, so that a little live was left in the town. But at the start of the 20th century, the land had been depleted by the agricultural methods of the time. And when the Great Depression came, most of the buildings were derelict.
Since the 1970s, the National Trust repairs the buildings. The Central Greenough Historic Settlement now consists of the historic buildungs and a small café with a souvenir shop (great coffee and homemade cakes!), and for some reason there are alpacas living on the grounds. The buildings are left quite bare, there are few descriptions in the rooms themselve, but you get a leaflet with informations at the start. The walls of the rooms have some basic dates written on them, I quite liked that concept.
In the old classroom of the settlement, there was a map from 1749. At that time, the dutch have been exploring Western Australia already for more than a century. But still, the continent on the map consists only of a few outlines and a lot of white space. We Europeans, with our thousands of years of history everywhere, tend to smile at the “historic” buildings in Australia. But still, I am often in awe when I think about what kind of life those people chose. What risks they took, what hardships they endured. How desperate they were, or how glad to get a second chance.