A project from the National Trust of WA
A self-guided drive trail between the Perth Hills and Western Australia’s Eastern Goldfields. Go with the Flow. Follow the water to discover more about the audacious goldfields water supply scheme and Engineer CY O’Connor.
“Future generations, I am quite certain will think of us and bless us for our far seeing patriotism, and it will be said of us, as Isaiah said of old, ‘They made a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert”
When, in 1898, the townsite of Mundaring was surveyed, there were no permanent residents Ian Elliot writes in his 1983 history of the Shire of Mundaring. Yes, suburban blocks in the area had been offered for sale previously, but it wasn’t until the water supply scheme commenced that settlers became interested.
At a time of high unemployment, men started camping on the south side of the Eastern Railway in the hopes of getting work on the scheme when a spur line to the site of the storage reservoir for the goldfields water supply was built. Government officials sprung into action, realising permanent settlement at the junction was likely, declaring Mundaring townsite on 20th May 1898.
Not surprisingly then, the Shire of Mundaring features Mundaring Weir, the storage reservoir, on its logo. Both the town and the reservoir take their name from what is believed to be an Aboriginal Place Name in the area.
However, Mundaring’s European history does go back further than this. Convicts maintaining the road to York camped in the area in the 1870s, their warder regulating their lives with a handbell. It disappeared under suspicious circumstances in January 1871 and remains missing to this day.
Peter Gugeri commenced successful wine-growing in the area in 1882 along what is now Mundaring Weir Road. Shortly afterwards a concession to cut timber was granted and in 1889 a sawmill was established which resulted in a railway stopping place, Gugeri’s Siding.
Gugeri sold his vineyard to the Jacobys (father and two sons) who registered their business as the Mundaring Vineyard Company and by December 1894 the siding’s name had changed to Mundaring. One of the Jacoby brothers, Mathieson, encouraged the successful development of orchards in the area.
Another influential figure was publican John C. Chipper who took over the lease of the Mundaring Hotel in 1900. His advertisements stated:
For an ideal holiday resort or for a quiet change, there are few places to surpass the Mundaring Hotel, conducted by Mr Chipper, and situated right opposite the Mundaring Railway Station. Nature can be seen in its primitive state all around and there is an air of restfulness about the place that is very alluring to those accustomed to live in towns. The hotel is at the nearest railway point to the Mundaring Weir.
This was the start of Mundaring becoming one of the leading resort areas of the time with guest houses and cottages springing up. It was to attract tuberculosis sufferers to live in the area as well as holiday-makers. Proprietors and publicans promoted the beneficial effects of the air in the hills. Fred Jacoby, Mathieson’s brother, even promoted his hotel at the weir as Westralia’s Sanatorium. Belief in the invigorating effects of air at the time was such that an actual sanatorium for tuberculosis sufferers was established at nearby Wooroloo in 1915.
From these beginnings – timber, viticulture, orchards – Mundaring became the leading business centre in the Shire. With motorcars becoming more affordable it became something of a ‘dormitory’ town for Perth for those who still wanted a bit more of a rural lifestyle.
Interestingly enough, today Mundaring once more promotes itself as a ‘resort’ area – a place to take a break on the outskirts of Perth. The district pride themselves on the ample walking and cycle trails. The Visitor Centre in the Old Schoolhouse can help you find accommodation and advise you of what to see and do in the area.
Mundaring Visitor Centre
Address: 7225 Great Eastern Highwa, Mundaring
Ph: 9295 0202
9:30am – 4pm Mon – Sat (Thurs open until 5pm)
10:30am – 2:30pm Sun
Click on any map section or place below to discover The Golden Pipeline.