WMCA 2014 AGM Meeting -
Friday October 31st 7.00pm - Venue Fireshed
Fireshed Sundownder -
Fri 26th September 6 - 8pm
All About Wellington Mills
Wellington Mills takes its name from timber mills established by the Canning Jarrah Timber Company (later Millar’s) from 1896. The “Wellington” derives from the Duke of Wellington (other names from the 1815 Battle of Waterloo are also used locally, including Waterloo itself and Picton) and “Mills” plural, because at one time there were three mills in the town. There is very little remaining to show the location of the original town site which was built along the Wellington Mill Road (formerly Ferguson Road) on the Ferguson River, not at the Wellington Mills Cottages on Wellington Road as is commonly believed.
Wellington Mills was a company town, originally with only a board mill set up to produce building materials for establishing housing, offices, sheds and a huge roofed structure for the main mill. Over the four years 1896 - 1900, many workers cottages were also built and milling equipment was imported for two large timber mills to harvest the enormous jarrah trees to be found for many kilometres around. Aside from the mill buildings and cottages, there were halls, churches, shops and two school buildings. The company built a railway to Dardanup and many further lines were laid out into the bush to access the giant trees. Horse and bullock teams, steam trains and steam winches were used for heavy haulage work.
The town’s population numbered many hundreds from 1900 – 1919 but, as with many company towns, economic conditions determined its fate. The population declined quickly after World War I, with the loss of international timber markets, a downturn in prices, and most importantly the enormous reduction in timber stocks that had been milled almost without a break for the previous 20 years.
By the mid-twenties, many timber buildings had been removed or dismantled, and from the 1930s to the 1970s residents of the district became farmers who earned their income from dairy and beef farming and orchards. A scaled down timber milling operation and contract sleeper cutting continued for many years until in 1950 a massive firestorm swept through from Burekup to Lowden, destroying what infrastructure remained. There are three original buildings still standing; the stately Mill Manager’s home, the Old Post Office, and a house on Weetman Road. These are all private residences but are a wonderful reminder of life in the area over a hundred years ago. The town retained its school until 1971 and a Post Office until 1972 when both were centralised to Dardanup.
During the 1970s, with a rise in the affluence across the State, the nature of the area changed once again as some of the larger farms were sub-divided into hobby farms and city dwellers and town workers moved to the area to take advantage of the rural lifestyle.
This trend has continued to the present day. While farming still provides income for local residents, much of this is now based on viticulture and tourism activity. Many small rural lots have been created in and around the original town site and the area continues to attract tree-changers and tourists who enjoy the tranquil setting, the abundant wildlife and the stunning jarrah forest.