In 1964, Donald Campbell set the water speed record in his boat 'bluebird' on Lake Dumbleyung. He achieved the remarkable speed of 444.66 Km per hour.
Campbell died (in England) two years later as he was trying to break the record he had set in the Australian outback. A memorial to Campbell stands
on top of Pussycat Hill.
The monument is made of granite and was designed in the shape of Western Australia. Nearby a model of the Bluebird was once illuminated by the
sun shining through a hole drilled in the granite on the anniversary of the day the world record was set. In a world that lacks respect, the plaque on the
monument and the model of the Bluebird have both been stolen.
A replica of Campbell's Bluebird was unveiled in Dumbleyung on New Year's Eve 2014. To find out more visit
the Bluebird Website.
Lake Dumbleyung is the largest body of inland water in southern W.A. It covers an area of about 13x7km. (That is when it is not bone dry.)
There have been attempts over the years to stock the lake with fish but the unreliable nature of rain in the area has meant that the lake has completely
dried out a number of times and no fish are believed to have survived.
Today, where once settlers described fertile land with grasses and trees there is little but dead trees and barren soil. Salination, that is a problem
over most of the wheat belt, has destroyed a once productive area.
The emblem adopted by the shire is that of a duck about to land. The original design was arrived at by holding a competition which was won by no
other than Lesley (wait for it) Walduck.
In 1843 Lefroy
and Landor with their native guide Cowit took 6 days to reach Lake Norring (near Wagin).
Shortly afterwards Cowit reached the limits of his tribe's territory and could lead the explorers no further. Luckily they met two
other natives who were able to guide the men further east and it was here that they found Lake Dambeling.
(there are reports that the lake appears on a surveyors map as Kondening Lake in 1839.)
Henry Landor described the discovery in his journal:
'After riding 10 miles, we came in sight of Dambeling, the largest of the lakes - 13 miles by 7 or 8. It is like the others, shallow with
many low islands in varied and beautiful form. On the northern and eastern shores, there is a good grazing country down to the lake,
ending in precipitous banks and extending over the hills 2 or 3 miles distant from the lake. The water is salt and the shore long, flat and
muddy, on which we saw the impressions of two stray horses and a foal...'
The natives knew of no major lakes further east and they too were unwilling to leave their tribal lands so Lefroy and Lander returned to York.
George Kersley took up the first grazing lease in the area in 1875 when the area around Lake Dumbleyung was reported as being rich and fertile.
The name is said to be a corruption of the Aboriginal word, 'dambeling', which means 'place of large water.'
As Dumbleyung was on the route to the goldfields, some enterprising farmers would load their wagons with supplies and take them out the
goldfields and auction the contents. There were also small stands of sandalwood in the area that were too small for sandal wood cutters to
bother with but they were a welcome source of income for the early settlers.
The gold rushes of the 1880s drew many people to W.A. and the Government was keen to keep them here once they decided to leave the goldfields.
To this end land was made easily available and support given in the form of loans by the Agricultural Bank.
By 1900 most of the land north of Lake Dumbleyung had been leased and in the following 15 years the land south and east was also taken up in
John Cronin appears to have been the first permanent settler, taking up land 6 miles north of the lake in 1878.
The first town started to develop at Nippering but with the arrival of the rail terminus at Dumbleyung, people gravitated to the rail line and
Nippering ceased to exist.
The town was declared in 1906 (one source quotes 1907) and this turns out to be because the initial survey was rejected for some reason
and it was re-done the following year.
The railway arrived in 1907, the Road Board was established in 1909 and the local hotel was constructed in 1912. The town grew to be a
major service centre.
It was not only the first pioneers who 'did it tough'. After World War II there was a wave of 'new Australians' from all over Europe who migrated
to Australia. Heidi Petrik and her husband Tony arrived in 1951 and she wrote:
'What a time it was to arrive, late one summer evening in 1951 and not a soul in sight. At least the stars were out in their multitudes, as though
sent by God to welcome us, illuminating the vast sky and the earth below. But oh God, this cannot be our future home, surely? Is this why we left
Bavaria to come to Australia? This is what I was thinking to myself and trying hard not to cry as I look at this house. Is this really our home?
It was built at the bottom of the yard - so small, surrounded by wees and grass so plentiful and tall, no fence, just wire and posts. Everything
felt and looked so strange, unknown, God forsaken, lost and forlorn: just as I felt. 'Tony how could you do this to us'' I turned to my husband to
ask, but not a word passed my lips as I looked into his smiling and proud face. (How was I supposed to know that most of the New Australians
that had settled here were living in tents along the railway line.)?
TALL TALES AND TRUE
Over a period of years a strange light was seen by a number of people who were out at night near the Forbes farm. Tractors working the fields
at night were followed by the light and it got to the point where some people were afraid to go out after dark. No explanation for the strange light
has ever been found but it is certain that at least some of the 'mysterious lights' were pranks. Strangely the light was seen less and less after
one tractor driver (who was carrying a rifle) took a pot shot at it.
In October 1933 a Greek man was drowned in the lake in what some locals suspected to be foul play.
Peter Kosta vanished and besides his neatly folded clothes by the lake and a set of footprints leading to the waters edge, no other sign of him
could be found.
Locals had a number of theories about the disappearance but it was not until 1944 that Harry Wann, walking along the dry lake bed, came across
human remains. Although it could never be confirmed, it was presumed that the bones belonged to Peter Kosta.
Lake Dumbleyung, Pussycat Hill.
BUILDINGS OF NOTE
Hotel, Post Office, Old Road Board Office.
State : Wagin
Federal : O'Connor
Postcode : 6350
Local Government : Shire of Dumbleyung
Click on a thumbnail to see full sized picture.