Bruce Rock
(C) Derek Graham

 

 

BRUCE ROCK

 

HEMA Map reference 74/C7

 

GPS 31 52 52 S 118 08 49 E

 

 

Where is this?

 

FIND ACCOMMODATION

 

 

 

 

 

 

STATISTICS

Distance from Perth

243 Km

Population

721

Average Rainfall

330.2mm

Mean Max Temp

25C

Mean Min Temp

10.5C

 

SERVICES

Police

08 9061 1035

Fire and Rescue

08 9061 1415

Medical

08 9061 1311

Visitor Centre

08 9061 1377

 

CARAVAN PARKS

Bruce Rock

08 9061 1377

 

HOTEL / MOTEL / B and B

Motel

 

08 9061 1174

Hotel

 

08 9061 1218

Bed and Breakfast

 

08 9061 1615

 

CALENDAR OF EVENTS

 

 

DESCRIPTION

 

The area depends mostly on cereal crops and sheep and is a receival point for Cooperative Bulk Handling.

 

A rare underground orchid can be found in the area. This variety spends its entire life cycle beneath the earth and even flowering takes place underground. I understand they are a bit hard to find.

 

The area has what is reputed to be Australia's smallest bank. As it measures only 3x4 metres the claim is in all likelihood quite true. It operated until 1997.

 

HISTORY

 

Originally called Nunagin (or Noonegin) the town was later renamed after a large granite outcrop east of town that was used by a sandalwood cutter named John Bruce as a depot in 1879.

 

The wheat belt contains a large number of other granite rock formations and 40km west of town, Kokerbin Hill is the third largest monolith in Australia. The rock is 122 metres high and covers 9 hectares. A road gives access both to sites at the base of the rock and it is also possible to drive to the top.

 

Early settlement in the area dates from 1860.

 

The townsite was gazetted in 1913 when it was part of the East Avon Road District. In 1918 the Bruce Rock Road Board was formed and it became a shire in 1961.

 

Originally the shire encompassed the Ardath, Babakin, Kwolyin, Shackleton, Belka and Coordarin wards. Wards were abolished in 2005.

 

At the rock there is a sign which reads:

 

'This marks the camp site of John Rufus Bruce after whom Bruce Rock was named. The small soak was originally a native soak possibly centuries old. The deep well is a good example of the method used in stoning wells in the early 1900s by the Public Works Department.'

 

There are actually two wells at the site. The important historic site is the rectangular shaped well not the rounded one.

 

TALL TALES AND TRUE

 

Murder most foul.

 

Victor McCaskell, his wife and baby had a farm about 14 miles from Bruce Rock back in 1930. Helping on the farm was a young worker called Billy Halbert.

 

McCaskell complained to his neighbours about Billy's behaviour and had apparently talked about firing him only to be threatened by Halbert afterwards.

 

On December 30th 1930 Jack Rae (a neighbour) saw Victor running through the paddock towards him carrying a small bundle. As he got closer Rae was horrified to see that it was Victor's baby covered in blood.

 

McCaskell said that he had finally had enough of Halbert and had told him to finish up what work he had to do and then leave the farm. McCaskell had gone off to complete his daily tasks and had returned in the afternoon to find his wife and baby dead and Halbert hanging from the front porch in an apparent suicide.

 

The police began an investigation and slowly it looked like things just didn't add up.

 

During the autopsy it was found that Halbert was already in an advanced stage of rigor mortis but that McCaskell's wife and baby were not. Very strange as Halbert was supposed to have died AFTER them.

 

It was also noted that the rope mark around Halbert's neck formed a complete circle, as if he had been strangled rather than hung.

 

When the police examined the rope, they found that if Halbert had had it around his neck he could have stood on the veranda with six inches of slack rope to spare. Lastly they also found that the box he was supposed to have stood on and kicked away was too heavy to have been moved in such a manner.

 

Another neighbour stated that he had visited McCaskell's farm the afternoon of the murders and found Halbert lying dead on the porch but there was no sign of a rope around his neck.

 

McCaskell was kept under watch by the police in the local hotel but as time progressed he became more and more agitated.

 

Finally he made a break for it and took off in a car towards his farm. The police gave chase but couldn't keep up and McCaskell reached the farm first. Abandoning his car McCaskell ran away on foot behind a hay stack and as the police gave chase again there was a violent explosion from the far side of the stack.

 

McCaskell had apparently hidden a stick of TNT in the hay and now that the game was up, he put it in his mouth and lit the fuse!

 

A fitting end for an evil man. The motive' Just money. McCaskell had taken out a two thousand pound life insurance policy on his wife two months earlier.

 

The Coroner recorded that McCaskell committed the murders while he was insane but the cold calculated way he set Halbert up, strangled him and then waited several more hours before brutally slaying his own wife and child show that the murders were in fact anything but a spur of the moment act of insanity.

 

MAP

 

 

VIDEO

 

 

MRGTV Youtube Channel

 

OTHER INFORMATION

 

ATTRACTIONS

 

Lin Butler Museum (Mon-Fri 2-4pm), Shackleton bank, Kokerbin Rock, Aquatic centre, Coarin and Myarn Rocks, Bruce's Rock, Ardath Hotel, Nunagin Rock, Smallest bank, Railway dam, Amphitheatre and sculpture park, Noonajin Hill.

 

BUILDINGS OF NOTE

 

Shackleton Bank, Shire offices.

 

ELECTORAL ZONES

 

State : Central Wheatbelt

Federal : O'Connor

 

OTHER INFO.

 

Postcode : 6418

Local Government : Shire of Bruce Rock

 

PHOTOS

If photos are available, click on a thumbnail to see full sized picture.

 

 

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I'm lost please take me home...

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