The area was first settled by Andy Roland who walked across the Nullarbor to seek his fortune. Now the area is mainly dominated by sheep, cattle and timber and lupin production.
There is little in the town itself to attract visitors but there is plenty to see and do in the surrounding area.
The Aboriginal name for the area is 'Chullurup' which translates as 'place of white ant nests'.
Located just 68 kilometres west of Mount Barker on Muir's Highway, Rocky Gully has never managed to develop the air of permanence achieved by its much larger neighbour.
The local school dated from 1951 (the same year the townsite was gazetted) when is was only a one room classroom. The school closed due to lack of enrolments in 2003.
The town was originally part of the War Service Land Settlement Scheme. The scheme aimed to open up new agricultural lands in the south west and also to help returning soldiers rehabilitate
after the traumatic experiences of war.
The first European people to move into this area found conditions very tough. Even once some development had started the access road was in very poor shape and getting to and from the town
Marjorie Johnson wrote about the road as follows:
'Suddenly off bitumen and onto a dirt track. At first a few farms passed, then into bush. The road, or at that time cattle track, was barely wide enough to accommodate a car. On and on we
traveled, and the further we went the further our spirits sank... Mile upon endless mile, coming at last to... a tangled mass of trees, ready to be pushed up into windrows, the makings of new farms.'
Initial accommodation for most people moving to the area was a tent. Some were to remain under canvas for at least two years.
Under the rules of the scheme, women were forbidden from doing any work associated with land clearing or farming. There were fixed notion about a woman's place and working on the land was
not part of the ideal.
Many who came to the area seeking to build a home and earn a living were gone just 10 years later. The isolation, ruggedness of the country and for some, the after effects of traumas
experienced during the war, were just too much.
During the 1980s sheep farming was the most widespread primary industry in the area but as wool prices fell sharply at the latter end of the decade many farmers sold up and moved on.
Millionaire land developer, Warren Anderson, purchased 11,800 hectares of land near Rocky Gully in 1989 and people started to move away from the district. The local shop closed in 1991 and ten years after he purchased
the land Anderson sold up after being implicated in the collapse of Rothwells merchant bank.
In the late 1980s tree plantations became popular due to government incentives and even more people gave up sheep and wheat farming.
Despite hopes that the area would flourish as a farming community, by 1990 conditions had been so bad on the land that many people were selling up and moving away.
The future of the town is still linked to the surrounding farms and the future of the farms will depend on the forbearance of nature.
Recent development in the area has been the planting of grape vines and olive trees. It is hoped that the development of viniculture in the area may bring more people back to settle here.
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BUILDINGS OF NOTE
State : Blackwood-Stirling
Federal : O'Connor
Postcode : 6397
Local Government : Shire of Plantagenet
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