Wagin is the centre of a thriving wheat and sheep industry and the area around the town produces almost half of WA’s total wool clip.
Wagin is pronounced Way-Gin but many locals refer to it as waggin (as in the waggin' tail of a dog.)
There are some very interesting and historic buildings in town as well as a historic village depicting life as it was in the pioneering days.
The Big Ram is a tourist icon and sits in the gardens of a park near the centre of town. The ram is the largest construction of its type
in the southern hemisphere.
The town boasts a 50 metre public swimming pool with attractive surroundings as well as a number of sporting clubs and service organisations.
Not far from Wagin is Norring Lake. The large expanse of water was once a popular skiing and swimming area but with dropping water levels the recreation
facilities have been removed and people mostly visit for picnics or to camp by the lake shore when the lake is full.
Wagin Wollorama (a large agricultural show) is held annually and attracts people from far and wide.
That man J.S. Roe
- yes him again - explored that area in 1835 naming Mt. Hugel after a German scientist.
The town’s name is said to be derived from the Aboriginal word ‘wedge-an’ which means emu or possibly 'place where emus drink'.
Although Captain Thomas Bannister
had gone through what is now the western edge of Wagin Shire before Roe, his expedition was too far to the west to have seen much of the area that
surrounds Wagin town.
In 1839 Edward Eyre
brought sheep through the area as he moved them from Albany to York to sell.
By the 1840s sandalwood cutters had moved through the area opening up new tracks as they moved from water sources to sandalwood trees and back.
Land in the west of the shire (closer to Arthur River) was taken up from 1862.
The Perth to Albany road gradually developed with a series of coaching inns being constructed and an official mail
run was taken into government hands in 1869 after John Chipper had been running it for some years.
The first settler who took up land near what is now the town site was W. Andrews who settled near the northern end of Lake Norring in the late 1850s.
The town owes it’s origin to the Beverley-Albany railway and was developed in the 1890s.
One source says the town was gazetted in 1890 and another quotes that the town was first gazetted as a private town with the name Wagin Lake, in 1891
and then re-named just Wagin in 1897. Yet another source claims that the townsite was surveyed and gazetted in 1898. (We believe this final date to be
the correct one.) Wagin Lake was basically a railway siding and did not develop as a town.
An unofficial post office operated in town until an official version opened in 1893. By this time the town's population had risen to about 150.
The population only increased very slowly until the late 1890s. By the turn of the century Wagin had become the most important inland town in W.A. but this
good fortune was not to last. By 1901 the town's population was over 700 and in 1905 the Road Board was established.
‘The town has made rapid strides of late. From twenty miles east of Wagin to Darkan, twenty five miles west, the country is covered with homesteads. Settlement is
still going on, and during the year 1900, fifty two selectors settled in the district, having taken up 12,700 acres.’
Twentieth Century Impressions of W.A. 1901
In 1908 when the railway line from Collie went to Narrogin instead of Wagin the town began its inevitable decline.
In 1910 a spur line was extended east and was to be responsible for the development of both Dumbleyung and Lake Grace but
for Wagin it was too late, Narrogin had taken over in prominence and remained so ever since.
By 1912 the population had gone up to around 1,200 but it was to remain at the level until after World War Two.
In 1934 the town experienced 137mm of rain in less than 24 hours and water flooded through the town. The town hall had 1 foot of water flowing through it and a number of
homes and businesses were also flooded.
TALL TALES AND TRUE
Back in the days of the horse and cart there was a law that allowed the serving of alcohol on a Sunday to any traveller who had just journeyed 25 miles or more. It was known as the Bona Fide law.
While it allowed travellers to get a drink on Sunday it didn’t do much for the locals who were usually a thirsty mob.
The local hotel took care of this by having a lookout watch the railway crossing (which the police would cross on the way to check on the pub) and clear all the locals out of the bar while the inspection was carried out.
While they were out the back of the pub the locals would enjoy a game of ‘two up’ before returning to drinking once the ‘Law’ had moved on.
In 1910 an old timer fronted up at Butterick's Newsagency asking for an official form to be witnessed. According to legend the form read as follows:
Age: Somewhere over 70. I remember when we got what they call 'Responsible Government.'
Married or Single: I don't know for sure. (The wife left me 40 years ago last Christmas and she might be dead.)
Length of residence in Australia: Calico tent, 6x8.
Property: Swag and dog.
Value: Swag about 10 bob; dog: money wouldn’t buy him!
Address of parents: Not sure: both are dead.
Government forms haven’t improved much have they? What would possibly be wrong with writing questions that people can understand?
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From DotinfoWA YouTube Channel
Norring Lake, Mount Latham, Puntapin Rock, Heritage trail, Historic village, The big ram.
BUILDINGS OF NOTE
Post office 1912.
State : Wagin
Federal : O'Connor
Postcode : 6315
Local Government : Shire of Wagin
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