Williams is the first major settlement on Albany Highway heading south from Perth. We can recommend the lunches at the local hotel which is a good place to stop and break
your journey to Albany.
The town is on a major road south but the main railway passed through Narrogin to the east and this seems to have stunted the growth of
Williams somewhat. A branch line of the railway did finally reach Williams in 1905 (just in time for the inaugural agricultural show) but it was a case of too little too late
to make any difference to the development of the town.
The agricultural industries surrounding the town consist mainly of wool, cattle and grains.
The Williams River passes through town and there is a pleasant rest area on the south west side of the bridge.
The first European to explore this area was Captain Thomas Bannister
in 1831. At least that is what most of the books say. There were some doubts that he discovered the Williams River as the navigation, undertaken by Smythe, was highly
suspect. Smythe's reckoning puts the party somewhere south west of Narrogin but as the party eventually came out on the coast to the west of their
intended goal (Albany) it would appear that the Bannister party were actually somewhat west of the current route of the present day Albany Highway.
This would mean that they had to cross the Williams River.
It is thought that the river was named after King William IV but there appears to be no documentary evidence to support this.
The first settler (Joseph Strelley Harris) arrived with 300 sheep in 1836. Harris was accompanied by
Lt. Henry Bunbury and a detachment of soldiers in case there were any problems with
local Aborigines but the Williams district seems to have been mostly free of the conflict that often flared closer to the coast. Bunbury described the land as 'Wretched.'
Land in the area was later taken up by E.T. Hooley (in partnership with others). It was
Hooley that pioneered a stock route north to the Pilbara.
Local legend is that a wayside inn was established near a ford in the river in 1851 but the first licensed wayside inn was not noted until 1870 and was operated by Alfred Quatermaine.
A government reserve was declared in 1851 but it was not until 1869 that a police station was erected on the site.
A bridge was built over the Williams River by convicts in 1855. This increased traffic between Perth and Albany making Williams a major stop-over point. The town site was first gazetted
in 1897 and the plan was revised in 1905 when a sub-division called Marjidin was developed. The original settlement was on the south bank of the river but due to flooding it was moved
across to the north bank.
When the name of the railway station was also changed to Marjidin the locals objected and it went back to being Williams and the Marjidin sub-division was incorporated into the rest of
the town site.
The first Road Board was elected in 1871 but there were early problems in getting the far flung members to attend meetings and funds remained very restricted for a long time.
It took until 1959 for the town to be connected to a mains water scheme.
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Dryandra Forest, Milbrook, The old well, Heritage trail, Woolshed, Jesse Martin Museum, Lions park.
BUILDINGS OF NOTE
Hotel, Post office, Agricultural Hall, Shire offices, Community Hall, Primary school.
State : Roe
Federal : O'Connor
Postcode : 6391
Local Government : Shire of Williams
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