Manjimup is at the heart of a timber cutting area surrounded by forests. The Jarrah (an Aboriginal name) was originally called Swan River mahogany by the first settlers.
The largest tree in the area is over 90 metres tall and has a girth of over 11 metres. Some trees may be as much as 1200 years old.
Another industry that was once gaining a foothold in the area was tobacco growing. Things looked very promising in 1958-9 when over 2 million pounds was made from the crop.
When this dropped to around 14,000 pounds two years later the new industry collapsed.
Manjimup is usually quite cold, but the countryside surrounding the town is beautiful.
One of the many attractions in the area are the tower trees. These are fire lookout platforms built at the top of some of the tallest trees. The first of them was constructed in 1938.
Timber Park recalls the area's timber cutting history and is an informative look into the past for visitors.
One tree bridge was created by felling one large tree and it's story is told as follows:
'For a short time the valley of the Donnelly River provided inspiration for one of Australia's great poets. Adam Lindsay Gordon came to the karri country with his partner Lambton
Mount in 1866. Here they bought 20 hectares of land on the eastern bank of the Donnelly River opposite what is now One Tree Bridge. They built a thatched two room slab cottage
and became the first settlers in the valley. Gordon then leased 20,000 hectares of the surrounding country known as Mt Lewen Station and drove almost 5000 sheep to the property
from the port of Bunbury. Heavy rain, dense scrub and poisonous forage took their toll over the next couple of years. Like many of those who followed him Adam Lindsay Gordon left
Mt Lewen discouraged and dispirited. Most of the poems that he wrote during his stay were destroyed when he left except for one incomplete manuscript of the old station written
about a station in South Australia he had visited years before. He has been remembered in the Manjimup area in the names of roads and forest plants.
Until 1904 the only way across the Donnelly River near here was a hazardous natural rocky ford about 500m upstream of the present bridge. The opening of the graphite mining venture
demanded a safer crossing. Hubert and Walter Giblett located an enormous Karri tree and using their skill as axemen felled it so it dropped across the 25 metre wide river to form the
basis of a bridge. The superstructure was hewn from nearby jarrah trees - crosspieces or bolsters were cut and set into the karri log then slabs of jarrah were laid across each end of
the bolsters. Finally hand hewn jarrah decking was laid naturally resting on the slabs to provide a non slip surface for horses and bullocks. In 1933 during a bushfire the top of a burning
blackbutt tree fell onto the bridge setting alight the hewn jarrah decking. The decking was replaced with sawn jarrah planks placed lengthwise on the log as you can see them today.
Curbs and rails were also added for safety. The bridge was finally declared dangerous in 1943 but no alternative crossing was provided for local farmers until a second bridge was
opened downstream in 1948. On the particularly wet and stormy winter of 1964 the old log bridge broke and fell into the river. Lack of central support, the uneven unprepared
foundation under its western end, and use by heavy equipment such as bulldozers all undoubtedly hastened the bridge's demise. The Forest's Departments Glenoran work gang
pulled the old bridge out onto the west bank in 1971 where they faithfully rebuilt the structure. The rebuilt section is only 17 metres long because a section broke off in the storms
of 1960. After more than 80 years of use and weather the log is still sound - testimony to the great strength and hardness of karri.
Graphite was first found near the Donnelly River by a shepherd minding Adam Lindsay Gordon's sheep. In 1904 H J Saunders opened the mine and the first 65 tons of ore was shipped
to New York. All companies that tested it declared it too fine grained and the flakes too resistant to concentration to be commercially useful. This was the start of a great swindle. In 1916
a glowing prospectus was circulated amongst investors in London. For an investment of £8000 investors could expect an estimated profit of £1.5 million. The prospectus waxed lyrical
about the quality of the ore. 70 000 tons in sight of finest quality graphite, 95% pure carbon (in fact the average carbon content was 29.3%), only three miles from the nearest
railhead (in fact 30 miles through dense karri scrub to Bridgetown), the Western Australian government had been buying from this deposit for years (it had never bought any though
it tested a sample once and found it useless). Consulting Engineers Lecherich, Gibson and Christie were sighted as authors of the exploration report (they denied having written it),
the graphite lease has changed hands many times since then. No one has had much success with it.'
The area was part of the Group Settlement Scheme that started to function in the 1920s. Group 10 was the mainstay in this area and some 20 families moved into the heavily timbered
countryside to try their luck.
The Australian poet, Adam Lindsay Gordon took up land in the area and tried sheep farming. The venture was not successful and unable to stand the difficult conditions he moved on
(to live in hundreds of other Australian towns judging by the number who claim that 'Adam Lindsay Gordon lived here'.)
Fresh fruit and vegetables grown in the area can be purchased in town and although the quality is very high the prices are very reasonable.
This popular local swimming area and gardens almost didn't manage to survive.
The pool was created when Archimede Fontanini (an Italian immigrant) built a dam across a stream on his property. His aim was to let the silt build up then demolish the dam and
use the more fertile area for growing crops.
The pool became such a popular swimming spot for many locals that when Archi decided it was time to remove the dam, he was petitioned to leave it intact and charge an entry fee
to help with the upkeep. Fonty's Pool opened for business in 1925. When Archi became too old to keep the pool in operation it closed for a time but it was reopened in 1979 and
Archi was still around to see the re-opening. (He died three years later).
Diamond Tree Lookout
10 kilometres south of town via the South West Highway is the Diamond Tree. The lookout was constructed in the top of this huge tree in 1940 and is used as a fire watch tower. It is
also quite a tourist attraction and those brave enough to do so can climb it. I remember going up there as a child and standing on top while the tree swayed in the breeze. Not
something I would contemplate doing today. These days children are not permitted to climb the tree and adults that do so do it at their own risk.
A plaque at the base of this tree reads:
'In contrast with the northern forest areas, the gentle undulating country and very tall trees of the southern forest offered few vantage points for fire lookouts. To build towers high
enough to see over the forest would have been too expensive. An alternative was a cabin built high enough in one of the taller trees. The first Karri fire lookout tower, called Big
Tree, was constructed to the west of Manjimup in 1938. By 1952 eight tree towers had been constructed.'
The area was first settled in 1856 by the Muir family. (One source quotes Charles Rose and Frank Hall as being the earliest settlers in 1859). It would seem that Thomas Muir
was a timber cutter and was first into the area but Hall and Rose were more conventional settlers. Halls property passed into the hands of J. Mottram and he called it Manjimup House.
Prior to the townsite being laid out the names chosen for the streets were those of the early pioneer families: Mount, Giblett, Rose, Brockman, O'Connor, Mottram, Reeve, Young,
Wheatley, Brian, Ipsen, Muir, Doust and Blechynden.
A site was gazetted as Manjimupp in 1903 but when the railway terminus arrived 5 kilometres away in 1909 the original site was re-named Balbarupp and the new Manjimupp was
gazetted in 1910. The town was linked to Perth by rail in 1911. The double 'p' in the original name was dropped in 1915. The name, like many others comes from
the Aboriginal language and means rushes by the waterhole. (Another source quotes 'manjin' an edible root of a broad leafed plant found in the area.)
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.
Timber Park, Age of Steam Museum, Historical Hamlet, Fire Tower Lookout, Timber Museum, Blacksmith's Workshop, Bush School, King Jarrah Tree, One Tree Bridge, Four Aces,
Diamond Tree Tower, Fonty's Pool, Diamond Mill, Vineyards, Pioneer Cemetery, Dingup Church, Yallambee Minerals and Fossil Display.
BUILDINGS OF NOTE
Tobacco farm 1920, Springdale 1883, Manjimup homestead 1860, Dingup Anglican church 1880, Dingup homestead 1870, Fernhill homestead 1872.
State : Blackwood-Stirling
Federal : O'Connor
Postcode : 6258
Local Government : Shire of Manjimup
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