Central Greenough: A Historic Tourist Town

Central Greenough: A Historic Tourist Town

Childrens laughter carries upon the afternoon easterly; a hot breeze that has drifted hundreds of kilometres across the parched landscape and wheat fields. These joyful sounds of lunchtime banter are cut short by the screechy nagging holler of Mrs Abney; as she reels the young scallywags back to class. Old man Dawson doesn’t hear a damn thing, years working the flour mill have rendered his hearing all but useless; although his hands still have plenty to give as he works a final piece of wire around his veggie patch – trying to keep those bloody roos out of his lettuce.

As I stand alone smack bang in the middle of the main street of Central Greenough, this is what my imagination paints. In reality it’s just me, a camera and a few German tourists mumbling away in the building next door.

The beginnings of Greenough kicked off in 1857 with four families taking up allotments of land in the area. The earth for these allotments was once and area of large lagoons which became cut off from the ocean. They gradually filled with soil from the the frequently flooding Greenough River; making the resulting flats incredibly fertile and ideal for wheat farming. Despite its awesomeness, stone was not quarried for building in the area until the 1870’s, the residents battling it out in makeshift shelters for a good 10 years! Being built so near to a flood plain meant that disaster was going to strike sooner or later. It came in the year 1888; making a proper mess of the town and upsetting Mrs Blackwood greatly as the murky floodwaters desecrated her apple pie. Fresh out the oven too! Many of the buildings were shifted about and rebuilt after the flood, but it is not this that saw the town fall into ruin. The decline of Greenough was a slow one, stretching into the mid 20th century, with the last remaining residents hanging on until the late 1960’s.

So what caused the demise of this quaint hamlet of stone? Essentially it was the primitive farming methods of the day which had depleted the land. Farming the flats was like flogging a dead horse; there was no nutrients left in the soil. They had been over cropped for years and what did manage to grow was often decimated by ‘rust’, a fungus which wheat was not so resistant to back then.

Nowadays, farming methods are greatly improved. And we have fertiliser. So the area is once again the Weetbix capital of the country. But Central Greenough came back to life only as a tourist destination through the efforts of the volunteers of the National Trust of Australia.

You can pop in and take a look for yourself every day from 9am to 4pm and entry fees are a matter of pocket change. If you’re coming up from Perth, you may want somewhere to stay the night. Central Greenough is located 393km north of Perth, or about a 4 hour drive. If coming from Geraldton, it’s practically down the road. Just 24km!  

If you’re a bit of a history buff, Central Greenough is well worth the look!

Alex

 

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