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Mandurah a Brief History
The first people known to have inhabited the area were Bindjareb of the Bibulmun Nation. These people lived well off the land, which abounded in fish, game, berries and fruits. The locality then was known as Mandjoogoordap, which translates as 'meeting place of the heart'. After European settlement the name was adapted to Mandurah.

In 1828 'Swan River Mania' inspired Englishman Thomas Peel to bring a number of workmen, equipment and stores to Western Australia in exchange for a grant of land. The contract stipulated that Peel must arrive in the colony by 1st November 1829, however the ship Gilmore, carrying Peel and his followers did not arrive until mid December and Peel's original land grant was forfeited.

Peel built a small settlement named Clarence, at what is known today as Woodman's Point to await the arrival of two other ships the Hooghly and Rockingham which carried settlers, equipment and stores also belonging to Peel. After many mishaps and plagued by ill health Peel eventually brought his remaining settlers to the area known today as Mandurah.
At that time, Mandurah was a day's journey by sea and two or more days by horse and cart, travelling across very rough country. The area remained isolated until 1850 when a road was built and a ferry punt constructed across the estuary.

Thomas Peel died in 1865, and Mandurah continued to expand slowly over the years, with the main industries of the township being fishing and fruit growing, as well as canning factories to store the produce. Charles Tuckey established a canning factory on what is now Mandurah Terrace.  The storeroom of the cannery remains and until recently, it traded as 'Tuckey's Tackle’.

A new inland road which ran through, nearby, Pinjarra was built in 1876 and this improved means of transportation meant a decline in Mandurah's importance as more people settled in the Pinjarra area. Construction of Mandurah's Traffic Bridge by Matthew Price in 1894 gave easier access to areas south of Mandurah and thus the area once again attracted a few more settlers, but it was not until the limestone road was replaced with bitumen that the area was made more attractive to travellers. A four hour trip to Perth on the limestone road was reduced to one hour when the road was covered with bitumen.
At the turn of the century Mandurah was already emerging as a tourist town as holidaymakers appreciated the ease of travel the bitumen provided and Mandurah's reputation as a favoured holiday destination was quickly made. Mandurah continued to prosper with the fishing and canning industry and a timber mill, established in approximately 1911, providing jobs for local people.

The mill closed in approximately 1926, and as the canning industry declined after the death of Charles Tuckey in 1912, due in part to the high costs associated with transportation and competition from canned fish imports from overseas, the main industry in Mandurah became tourism. History records that "goldfields" people and later “wheatbelt” people patronised Mandurah largely because of its huge catches of fish. At this point, Mandurah was estimated to have not more than 150 permanent inhabitants.

Once again, when the holiday season was over, Mandurah fell back into a peaceful little village.

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Local Government History
mandurah estuaryUp to that time Mandurah was under the jurisdiction of the Murray Roads Board. During the 1940s growth in the Mandurah area and a feeling of isolation from the Murray Roads Board, which was located in Pinjarra, made Mandurah residents examine the possibility of Secession (withdrawal) from the Murray Roads Board. Secession from the Murray Road Board was not without its opposition however, and Mandurah faced what was possibly its very first referendum to decide the issue.

In April 1948 the then Minister for Local Government gave the Mandurah Progress Association a number of points to consider prior to the establishment of its own local authority. Among the needs to be met by the community, the Minister listed that rates would increase and the old Mandurah Hall would be needed for one day a week to serve as a branch office. A full time inspector was to be engaged for six months of the year and would work in conjunction with a health inspector who would visit Mandurah once a week in order to arrange camping permits and sanitation requirements.

By mid 1949 with all conditions stipulated by the Minister and agreed by the Progress Association, Mandurah's Roads Board was established controlling an area "between the sea and the estuary and Mandurah itself" (these boundaries were later realigned when the Board became a Shire Council) The inaugural meeting of the Board was held on 1 September 1949 and Mandurah headed into the second half of the 1900s as a separate Local Government entity.

As dissension against the Board grew, Mandurah's residents demanded and eventually obtained an investigation in to the Board's affairs. Whilst the majority of allegations made were levelled at the 'inefficiency' of only one Board member, the then Minister for Local Government ruled against the allegations, deeming "insufficient grounds for dismissal". He did, however, find that a Board so sharply divided could not be expected to carry out the functions in the best interest of the community and suggested that the Board resign instead.

In July 1956 Commissioner Richard Rushton was appointed to handle the affairs of the town. Rushton was later replaced by Acting Commissioner Albert White in March of 1960 and it was during this year that the Road Board was again reformed, the Minister deeming that "any local authority worthy of the name should be controlled by members elected by ratepayers.

Following this decision, the Mandurah Road Board was reconstituted on 26 April 1960 and almost a year later on 1 July 1961 the gazettal of the Mandurah Shire Council was effected in accordance with the Local Government Act in 1960.

During the 1970s and 1980s Mandurah grew rapidly and on 1 July 1987 Mandurah was upgraded to Town status and became the 'Town of Mandurah'. Yet another historic milestone was forged when the former President, Cr Bruce P. Cresswell was elected by Council to become the first Mayor of Mandurah.

From a very slow beginning, events for Mandurah have certainly moved very swiftly over the past 50 years, and the continued growth culminated on the 14th of April 1990 in a celebration of the attainment of City status to the 'City of Mandurah'. Today, it appears difficult to reconcile the meteoric progress experience in the latter half of this Century to the wretchedness of the group that initially disembarked at Clarence. Mandurah is now one of the top tourist destinations in Western Australia, with a performing arts centre of international standard, cinema complex, spectacular waterways, first class holiday accommodation and overall a proud community spirit.


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Downloadable Fact Sheets
The following Fact Sheets feature important or significant people, places and events in Mandurahís History. Contact or visit the museum for further information on these or other subjects of interest.

Agricultural Hall
Barragup House
Boltonís Mill
Bonnie Doon
Borehole Rescue
Broadhurst & the Smart Street Fish Cannery
Carinya- Wearne House
Catalpa-Escape of the Fenians
Commercial Fishing in Mandurah: The Early Years
Cooper Joseph
Cooperís Mill
Dalrymple Robert William
Dalrymple School
Drowning Tragedy of a Priest and three Nuns
Eacott Family
Electrical Power in Mandurah
Fawcett Theodore
Goode L Wilfred
Hall Family
Hall Sarah Theodosia
Hallís Cottage
Herron Family
Indigenous Creation Story
James Service
Kanyana Festival
Leviathan Boat
Mandurah Ferry & Traffic Bridge
Mandurah Ice Works
Mandurah Meat Supply
Mandurah War Memorial
Mewburn Robert
Migrant Barracks
Old Brighton Hotel
Old Coast Road
Old Mandurah Footbridge
Peel Thomas
Peninsula Hotel
Pinjarra Massacre
Pinjarra Mounted Volunteers
Pleasant Grove
Price Matthew-Bridge Builder
Semmens Francis Leslie
Sutton Family
Suttonís Corner Store
The Avaneta
The Brig Gilmore
The Canopus
The Mandurah Hermit
The Ship Hooghly
Tuckey Eliza
Tuckey Family
Wearne Family

Heritage Places

State Heritage

allendale homesteadAllandale Homestead, Estuary Drive, Dawesville.
Allandale was built from local limestone and iron in 1913 for early Mandurah fisherman, Louis Dawe, his wife Emma and their six children. The house was built looking above the estuary and the family canning factory. It had six large rooms with an adjoining kitchen, bathroom, laundry and a separate cellar. The building is considered rare as it has survived relatively unchanged since 1913. Allendale is a private property offering Bed and Breakfast accommodation.

hall's cottageHall’s Cottage, Leighton Road, Halls Head: This five-roomed, single-storey stone building dates back to 1833. Initially it was the home of Henry Hall and family, early settlers in Mandurah, but went on to be associated with many others involved in the formation of Mandurah. It is considered the only intact example of an early settler's cottage in the Mandurah area. Open on Sunday afternoon 1 – 4pm.

sutton farmSutton’s Farm and Graveyard, Apollo Place and Picaroon Place, Halls Head
Sutton’s Farm consists of homestead (1881), single men's quarters (1870) and barn (1870). Initially, it was the home of Eleanor and John Sutton, who arrived on the Hindoo in 1839. They are considered prominent settlers in the Mandurah area in the first decades of the colony. Their nephew Henry Sutton took over the farm in the 1860s when Eleanor was widowed and her son had died. It operated as the town dairy and was one of the few regular places of employment in the late nineteenth century.

The Heritage Council of WA maintains a database of state heritage listings at: www.register.heritage.wa.gov.au for more information.

Municipal Heritage List

christ's churchUnder the Heritage of Western Australia Act of 1990, all local authorities are required to prepare an inventory of sites which possess, or which may come to possess cultural heritage significance. The Mandurah Municipal Heritage Inventory (1999) complies with this statutory requirement. A copy of the inventory can be downloaded here or viewed at City of Mandurah administration building, museum or library.

Indigenous Sites
The Department of Indigenous Affairs has compiled and maintains a list of registered Aboriginal Heritage Sites at: www.dia.wa.gov.au/en/Heritage-and-Culture/

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Local Studies Collection


Newspapers and Clippings
The museum holds the last two years of the Mandurah Mail and the Coastal Times. In addition, all articles relevant to Mandurah are kept and filed according to subject. Clippings date back to the 1960s.

Microfilms of local newspapers can be viewed using the museum's microfiche for the following local papers:

The Coastal District Times 1963 - 1987
Mandurah Advertiser 1978 - 1983
Mandurah Mid-Week Times 1984

Photo reproductions

The museum holds a number of rare photos in its collection depicting Mandurah in its early days. Reproductions on photographic paper are available for purchase.

A study area and a range of local history resources are available for all members of the public researching any aspect of Mandurah's history.

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When Mandurah was a small town of a few hundred people, in the early 1900s, everyone knew each other, looked out for each other. Life was a little less formal.

Nobby Cooper - descendent of Joseph Cooper (who arrived in 1830) - recalls ...

 " Mandurah . there was more sport . not organised sport . we had more fun and sport than probably now . in the Summer time you got the town people and just after Summer you'd get the Cockies for three weeks every year and the first place was the tennis court and sometimes we'd have thirty playin' there .. but on a weekend - cricket, and we played North Dandalup and they come across of horseback carrying their kit.

 ". we had skating on the Hotham Valley Hall I don't know whether it was every month or what . blokes used to come down . some of the girls . used to get skates and come out and serve meals ."

 "badminton . we were all mugs I wouldn't hazard a guess who was the best of 'em I wasn't . we were all on par you know, just mugs but we used to have a lot of fun with it."


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