HEMA Map reference 74/G5
33 50' S 117 09' E
Military barracks, Elverd’s cottage, Apex Park, Farrar Reserve, Kojonup Spring, Lake Towerinning, Rose Maze, Koja Place, Historical walk trail, Farrar Reserve, Myrtle Benn Flora & Fauna Sanctuary.
Buildings of note
Royal Hotel, Glen Lossie 1864, Old barracks 1840s, Former post office 1897, Commercial Hotel, Western Australia's oldest continually licensed hotel.
January: Australia Day Breakfast. Picnic races. May: Mother's Day street stall. June: Golf cup. September: Wildflower week. October: Kojonup Show. November: Polocrosse carnival.
Old railway station
Said to be named after an Aboriginal word, koja, meaning stone axe. Ruby Penna wrote the following about the naming of the town:
Another possible source of the name is thought to be the Aboriginal word kogynup meaning edible bulb.
An army barracks was established in January 1838 to protect the mail on the Perth to Albany run. It was staffed by members of the 21st Regiment of Royal British fusiliers. led by Lieutenant Armstrong. For some unknown reason the barracks seem to have been abandoned by August 1838 and later re-occupied by the 51st Regiment. (Armstorng had died suddenly while stationed at Vasse.)
(another source says December 1838) Hillman returned and surveyed the townsite.
The party ran critically short of water on the journey and Hillman pressed
on ahead with horses to reach water at Kojonup. The party eventually all
made it to the spring to find not only fresh water but also a crop of
vegetables planted by the 21st Regt. that had been abandoned and left to
On September 9th 1840 some town lots were offered for sale but until a solution to the poison bush problem was found the Kojonup area was to remain unpopular. Sheep and cattle being taken through the area were sometime muzzled to stop them eating the dangerous plants. Edward John Eyre brought a flock through en-route from Albany to York and lost over 200 animals.
Early attempts at grazing in the area failed as poisonous plants killed off the sheep. Alfred Symons was the first settler to be granted land but he abandoned the 100 acres he was granted after losing too much money. By 1843 the area had been all but abandoned. By 1846 most land owners did not live on their properties in the area and the most people there were either just passing through or were shepherds.
The colonial botanist (Drummond) investigated possible causes of the poisoning and discovered that a shrub with a pea like flower was the likely cause. The Agricultural Society conducted their own experiments at Guildford and the York Road Poison was named.
A detachment from the 96th Regiment of Foot led by Cpl. Richard Norrish, replaced the 51st. 23 months later the detachment was sent to Perth but Cpl. Norrish decided he wanted to stay in the area and was discharged from the army. He and his family returned to Kojonup in 1849.
Norrish planted both wheat and barley and the first grain was harvested in 1850.
With the arrival of convicts in W.A. there were also a number of Pensioner Guards whose job was to supervise they convicts both during the voyage and while they served out their sentences. The term 'Pensioner' is misleading to modern readers who view the term as meaning people in their mid to late 60s or older. The Pensioner Guards were in fact returned British service men, many of whom were in the prime of life and were fit and healthy. They were offered a much better prospect in Australia than they could have hoped for back in England so many came out and made their homes here.
A number of Pensioner Guards were stationed at Kojonup, which by now was becoming a small settlement. Convicts were there to work on building the Perth to Albany road and parties were supervised by Lt. W. Crossman who was engineer in charge. By 1855 the rough cut road had been established and work was to continue to improve it over the years.
By 1863 the Pensioner Guards had established small holdings for themselves and had 35 acres under crop.
In 1870 John Forrest and his expedition to Adelaide passed through the town and the following year the Districts Road Act created the need for the establishment of a local Road Board.
The railway, which may have brought prosperity to the town, went to Katanning instead and Kojonup continued to stagnate.
The town seems
to have been a little out of control in the early days with one report