Varley today is not much more than a wheat collection centre located between Hyden and Lake King.
On Seward Avenue you will find a museum with various memorabilia and historic records.
The recreation centre has facilities for lawn bowls, netball and tennis and somewhat surprisingly there is even an 18 hole golf course near town.
The Medical Centre has regular visits from the Royal Flying Doctor Service based in Kalgoorlie.
Things to see in the area include Hatters Hill and the historic Rabbit Proof Fence.
Gold was discovered at Hatters Hill in the early years of the twentieth century. The location is popular with fossickers.
J.S. Roe and John Holland
were two early visitors to the area during their explorations in 1848 and 1893 respectively. Neither were too impressed with the potential of the land even though they would have seen the land
at its best in late winter and early spring.
Frank Hann named nearby Lake Varley and Varley Rock in 1901 and the possible source of the name was Gustavas Varley who worked for the Lands and Surveys Department.
(Other suggestions include a South Australian Magistrate or Cornelius Varley an English artist.)
Settlement of the area was relatively late (1928) and Captain J.S. Logan is thought to have been the first to move in to the area.
In 1930 a hall was erected that served as a school, church and social centre. The school closed in May 1933 and did not re-open until 1945. Some of the students had to walk as much as
eight miles (each way) to get to school and on occasion were menaced by packs of dingoes.
The town site was gazetted in 1939.
Varley was hit harder by the Great Depression than many other areas because it had been so late in getting started. No sooner were people moving into the
area and trying to get farms going, than the depression caused many to abandon their land. By 1933 there were only 8 families left in the area and they had to survive mostly on emu,
kangaroo, rabbit and Cocky's Joy - a mixture of boiled wheat and treacle..
Western Australia was particularly vulnerable to the effects of the Depression as it earned much of its income from exports of wool and grain. When Wall Street crashed in October 1929,
the markets dried up and during the next few years more than 3,000 farms in W.A. were abandoned. To make matters worse, 1931 was a bumper harvest year but there was simply no-one
to sell the wheat to.
Next came WWII, with its demands on men for service and the lack of petrol and other essential supplies. In 1944 a bad drought started and stock losses were high. The drought saw the
end of the line for most working horses as farmers switched to tractors that did not have to be continually fed and watered.
Finally in the 1950s those who had stuck it out through the hard times, were beginning to reap their long overdue reward. Prices for wool and grain rose and the district's future was assured.
In the 1960s with their farms and incomes reasonably secure, people turned their attentions to building up local infrastructure and a
new hall was constructed in 1964. Other local
amenities followed with the construction of a football oval in 1966 and then a golf course in 1969.
TALL TALES AND TRUE
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Dempster Rock, Museum, Golf course, Hatter's Hill.
BUILDINGS OF NOTE
State : Roe
Federal : O'Connor
Postcode : 6355
Local Government : Shire of Lake Grace
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