Wongan Hills is just 180 kilometres from Perth, an easy 2 hour drive.
It is one of the most progressive country towns and has gone to great lengths to provide excellent facilities for both the locals and for
visitors to the town.
The visitor's centre is a wonderful source of information on the local area and located just outside are long vehicle parking bays, water
pickup and a dump point for black waste. This are things much appreciated by caravanners and motorhomers.
Next door to the visitor centre you will find the original railway barracks.
The barracks date from 1914 and were built to act as accommodation for railways workers who needed to stay in town as part of their work
The barracks are one of very few remaining examples of their type and are heritage listed.
At the far end of the visitor centre complex you will find a display of farm machinery and a pleasant picnic area with gazebo.
Just across the main street lie the local hotel and the main shopping facilities in town.
Among them you will find a large modern IGA supermarket and a great little op shop where you might just pick up a real bargain or two.
The town has a modern sports complex and for the travelling public there is a free overnight rest area for self-contained RVs. There is
also a caravan park for those who do not have self-contained RVs.
Gathercole nature Reserve.
Only 10 kilometres south east of town, the Gathercole Reserve is a great place to visit in springtime when the wildflowers are in bloom.
There is a loop walk trail that leads you through some diverse landscapes and there are some nice views of the surrounding countryside.
The walk trail is rated as moderate difficulty and will take about two hours to complete. You will find signs along the trail that will
provide more information on the landscape and its importance to the Aboriginal people.
There are a number of other walks you can do in the area including Mt. Mattilda, Christmas Rock and Reynoldson Reserve.
Wongan Pioneer Museum
The local museum is located in the original Wongan Hills hospital that was built in 1930.
The hospital was relocated in 1965 and the building that has now become the museum, is heritage listed.
It has been in operation as a museum since 1972 and is run by volunteers.
There are displays about the original hospital, Pioneer kitchens, Natural history, Blacksmith, Sports, Road Board, Army, School,
Music and more.
Outside there are displays of farming machinery.
The museum opens on Sundays between 1 and 4 pm and is run by volunteers. If you are in town on a different day, give the visitor centre a
ring and see if you can arrange a private viewing of the museum.
The suggested entry fee is $5 per head and we highly recommend that you go and check it out if you can.
A few kilometres south west of town is Lake Ninan. This is an important recreation site as well as being important for many species of
birds that live in the area or migrate there from other places.
It is another place where self-contained RVs can stay for up to 48 hours.
According to one source, Mt. O'Brien was once known as Mount Dick, I wonder why they changed that name?
Here you will find an excellent lookout and a wander around the bush in springtime will reveal a wealth of wildflowers.
There are BBQ and picnic facilities at the lookout but it is highly recommended that you drop your caravan off in town before you
drive up and have a look.
The hills, after which the town is named, have never been cleared and as a result they are an island of native flora and fauna in a sea
of farm land.
The first people to recognise the scientific importance of the area were John Gilbert and botanist James Drummond. They explored there
in 1842 collecting many specimens previously unknown to science.
The hills are made up of metamorphic rock with the highest peak being Mt. Matilda at 434 metres.
400 different native plant species have been found in this area with 50 species of daisies growing in the hills alone. It is little wonder
that this is a popular tourist destination during the spring wildflower season.
In 2006 Birds Australia carried out a survey of birds in the area over and by the time the survey was complete 78 different bird species
had been seen.
In total 90 species of bird are known to inhabit the area.
Australia's smallest bird, the weebill lives in this area. It is about 8cm long and feeds on small insects. The birds are named, not
for the size of their beaks, but because of the sound they make.
There are only a few species of mammals in the hills with bats being the most common.
Other creatures of note include 40 species of spiders with the Wongan Hills wishbone spider being one of the more unusual in the way
it constructs its home. It is a trap-door spider and it gathers pebbles around the entrance to its burrow that create a crater-like
effect. The mounds can be as much as 10 centimetres across and 4cm high.
Mt. Mattilda Walk.
This walk incorporates a 7.3 kilometre scentic trail and a 4.8 kilometre wildflower loop and both are rated as moderate difficulty.
These walks are 12 km west of town in the Wongan Hills Nature Reserve. A parking area is available at the northern end of Mt. Matilda Lookout Road.
Christmas Rock Walk.
This 2.6 kilometre trail is close to town and a good starting point is apex Park.
Although not specifically a walking trail, Mt. O'Brien has an excellent lookout and a wander around the bush in springtime will reveal a wealth of wildflowers.
The road to the lookout is not suitable for caravans.
BBq and picnic facilities are available at the lookout.
Gathercole nature Reserve.
This reserve is 10km east of Wongan Hills.
The walk trail is rated as moderate difficulty and will take about two hours to complete.
The walk is just over 1 kilometre (one way) and is located along the Old Ballidu Road.
It is renowned for the displays of feather flowers (verticordia) during wildflower season.
The reserve is 29 km north east of town and is well signposted.
The Aboriginal name for the area was Wongan Katta which means whispering hills (Another source quotes 'sand plain' but we much prefer 'whispering hills'
- far more romantic.).
The ubiquitous John Septimus Roe camped in the area in 1836.
Augustus Gregory recorded the name as 'Wankan Hills' in
1848 but the area was not settled until after 1905. The first store was opened in 1909. By 1913 the first school was in operation.
In 1911 the railway was established and most of the area around the town had been taken up. It was at the same time that the town was gazetted.
In 1925 an agricultural research station was established about 5km north of the town site. It is still in operation and guided tours can be arranged.
The station has been responsible for important research into crop development in W.A.
The early life of the town was difficult, with people living in tents and even the local bank operating from a tent until a building could be completed.
It is surrounded by wheat and sheep farms and the words 'typical wheat belt town' resonate through my brain as I read entry after entry on the wheat
belt towns as I research this site, but what more can be said. Wongan Hills is a typical wheat belt town.
In recent years Wongan Hills has modernised in a big way. It is now quite a major service centre with a modern shopping centre and even 7 day supermarket
There are two significant books on the town. R. R. B. Ackland's book 'Wongan Ballidu Pioneering Days' was written for the local shire and is a very
detailed history of the area. 'The Natural History of the Wongan Hills', published by the Western Australian Naturalists Club, is a detailed natural history
of the region including a listing of every bird, mammal and species of flora that anyone had ever found in the area. Both are available at the visitor centre.
TALL TALES AND TRUE
No information for this section yet. If you know of something we can add here please contact us and let us know.
PROBLEM PLAYING THESE ON FIREFOX?
Turn off Enhanced Tracking Protection
Click the shield icon left of the URL near the top left
Slide Advanced Tracking Protection to OFF
Mount O'Brien, Reynoldson's Flora Reserve, Dingo Rock, Christmas Rock walk, Mount Matilda trail, Lake Ninan, Museum, Mt. Matilda guided
walking tours, Flat Rocks Nature Reserve, Agricultural research station. Elphin and Rogers Nature Reserves, Rare Flora Garden, Balli Balli Rocks.
BUILDINGS OF NOTE
Hotel, Railway barracks and Station Master's house.
State : Central Wheatbelt
Federal : Durack
Postcode : 6603
Local Government : Shire of Wongan - Ballidu
Click on a thumbnail to see full sized picture.
Please note that using the https url will cause the photos not to show. To show photos use the standard http url.