Dongara is located on the Brand Highway about 50 km south of Geraldton.
One of the main reasons many people visit Dongara is fishing and good catches of tailor, snapper, whiting and dhufish are taken regularly in season.
You can visit Russ cottage which was once the home of the Dent family whose child was the first born white baby in W.A.
There is a good scenic lookout at Port Denison that has good views of the Harbour. The Irwin River is another scenic attraction.
The Indian Ocean Drive (south of town) is now the preferred route for most travellers as it follows the coast and includes a useful campsite a Cliff Head.
The 'lobster' industry.
The industry started in the early 1950s when there was no thought of regulation. Crayfish (they are crayfish not lobster) were of little value and sold
for as little as 3 shillings a dozen. The reason they were re-named 'lobster' was for the American market where it was feared they would be confused with crawfish.
Transporting the 'lobsters' was also a problem but some were sent down to Perth for the restaurant trade.
A processing factory started in 1959 and in the following decade frozen lobster tails were exported. From there the trade developed into live lobster
exports and today it is one of the state's major fisheries.
An expedition led by Lt. George Grey
passed through the area in 1839, during their trek south to Perth after being shipwrecked. He discovered and named the
Irwin River after Major F. Irwin who was commandant of the Swan River Settlement.
Coal was discovered in the area in 1845. More recently oil and natural gas have also been discovered. Cray fishing is an important industry as well.
The area was settled in 1850 and the town site was surveyed in 1852 (another source quotes 1871 and another quotes 1873 but 1871 was the year the Road Board was formed).
The name seems to have come from the Aboriginal word 'Dhungarra' or 'Thungarra' which means 'meeting place of seals.' (Port Denison was named after
William Thomas Denison
who was Governor of both Tasmania and New South Wales.)
In 1865 a flour mill was built to process the local crops and a year later a jetty was constructed to ship the produce out.
The giant Moreton Bay fig trees which line Moreton Tce. were planted in 1906 at a cost of 16 shillings and 4 pence.
Originally the name was spelled 'Dongarra' but in 1944 this was changed to the current spelling.
For more information visit the Irwin District Historical Society.
TALL TALES AND TRUE
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Old flour mill, Russ Cottage 10am-12pm on Sundays, Old East End, Old Police Station,
Fisherman's Lookout, South Beach,
Seven Mile Beach,
Freshwater, Irwin River nature trail, Heritage trail.
BUILDINGS OF NOTE
Priory Lodge 1881,
Pearce House 1870,
Road Board office 1871,
Toko's Restaurant 1912,
Methodist manse 1900,
Catholic presbytery 1884,
Anglican rectory 1882,
Headmaster's house 1888,
Royal Steam roller flour mill 1894,
Russ cottage 1868,
Post office 1894,
Old police station and court house 1870,
Bank of WA building 1894,
Uniting church 1884,
St. John church 1884.
If you want to find out more and do the heritage walk, get a copy of Dongara Heritage Walk from the visitor centre.
FAMOUS SONS AND DAUGHTERS
Sir David Brand, 19th Premier of Western Australia
Carmen Lawrence, 25th Premier of Western Australia
State : Moore
Federal : Durack
Postcode : 6525
Local Government : Shire of Irwin
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