Dowerin is probably best known for the annual 'field days' that are held in the town.
In August each year the Dowerin Field Days attract farmers from near and far. It is one of the largest agricultural shows in the state. It all started in
1965 and at first was just an adjunct to the local agricultural show but after the first year it was obvious that the Field Days were to become the main attraction.
I first attended the Dowerin Field Days in 1984 when I was working for an agricultural software company called Country Soft. There were 373 exhibitors and over
20,000 people attended the show. By 1996 there were 680 exhibitors and 51,000 visitors. This is truly a remarkable event staged by what is quite a small and fairly isolated town.
Few West Australian football fans will not have heard the name Mal Brown. Although Mal only came to Dowerin at the age of six, he spent his formative years
there and went on to become a household name in Australian Rules Football.
By 1990 the widespread problem of land salinity was affecting land in the area and an action group was formed to help tackle the problem. In the space of two years the
group had planted 40,000 trees and continues to work to reduce salinity in the area.
Dowerin is located on a route now called the Pioneers Pathway. This is an alternate route from Perth to Merredin and encompasses the towns of
Goomalling, Dowerin, Wyalkatchem, Trayning, Nungarin, and Merredin.
First settled in 1895 (one source says 1897), Dowerin is said to be a corruption of the Aboriginal name 'Daren' which was given to lakes south of the town.
The first settlement started near the lakes but it was found the land there was unsuitable for the railway when it arrived and the town then moved to its present
location. The townsite was gazetted in 1907.
The name Wuguni was first suggested for the site but Dowerin was already widely in use so that was the one that won out. The name may mean 'place of the
throwing stick' or it could be the Aboriginal name for the twenty eight parrot. The second explanation seems more likely as Aborigines often identified their tribes
with a totem animal and the Daren tribe was known to live in this area.
The site was first known as 'Tin Dog Creek'. This came about because many prospectors heading towards the goldfields stopped to camp by the creek and their
staple diet included tinned corned beef - known as tinned dog. The empty tins were left in piles by the creek and that was how the rather odd name came about.
Today 'Rusty' the tin dog sculpture (designed by local school students) guards the western entrance to town.
By 1901 the areas population was only 32 people, but the following year more settlers began to arrive. Without a railway, the first few years of farming in the district
were very hard but in 1906 the railway line finally arrived. The sleepers were originally made of salmon gum which termites seemed to find very palatable.
The damage was so great that it became known as the 'White Ant Line' and there are stories of passengers leaving the train to pick wildflowers as it crawled slowly
over the tracks. The line was rebuilt in 1912.
Initially the areas was part of the Goomalling Road Board district but in 1912 the Dowerin Road Board was formed.
At its peak, Dowerin had a population of about 1600, but modern farming techniques meant a much less labour intensive work load and the number of people in the
town gradually diminished.
TALL TALES AND TRUE
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Museum, Naaning Well, Namelcatchem Well, Tin Dog Creek walk trail, Rusty the tin dog.
BUILDINGS OF NOTE
Masonic Hall 1929, Uniting Church 1924, Anglican church 1939, Exhibition hall 1939, Anderson Hall 1909, Road Board office, 1912, Post office 1913,
Commercial Bank 1911, Commercial Hotel 1908, National Bank 1908, Museum 1915.
State : Central Wheatbelt
Federal : Durack
Postcode : 6461
Local Government : Shire of Dowerin
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