History of Manjimup
The Early YearsManjimup is located in the south-west corner of Western Australia, approximately 304km south of
Perth. The tall timber town was established in 1910 as a result of the railway line which was built to
service the thriving timber industry.
The name Manjimup was derived from an Aboriginal word "manjin" the name given for the edible root
of a bulrush and "up" meaning place of water, together they mean "edible root of bulrush at watering hole".
The first European settler in the Manjimup district was a timber cutter,
Thomas Muir, in 1856. He was followed by Frank Hall and Charles Rose in 1859. In the 1860's, Hall's property
was passed to J. Mottram who named his homestead Manjimup House.
During the late 1890's and early 1900's there was an increased demand for quality agricultural land
and the focus was placed on the heavily forested areas near the Wilgarrup River.
The GroupiesIn 1909 the government proposed to extend the railway from Bridgetown to
Wilgarrup with the terminus (station) to be built close to the Manjimup Homestead. The proposed station was
named Manjimup and later a town site which was officially declared in 1910. The district of Manjimup became
part of the Government's Group Settlement Scheme which was implemented in the 1920's. The Western Australian Government
set up the scheme with the aim of opening up the sparsely populated and uncleared land of the south-west of
the state to migrants from Britain and returning ex-servicemen. Twenty families of group 10 settled in the
area near One Tree Bridge . They were known as 'The Groupies'.Armed with only crosscut saws and axes they
were faced with clearing some of the world's tallest trees. Very few of the groupies had any farming skills
and found the work and the conditions unbearable. To make the situation even worse the families lived in
temporary huts (provided by the government) until each they had cleared 25 of the allocated 100 acres. The
end result was that most of the settlers left, making the Group Settlement Scheme one of Western Australia's
greatest social and financial disasters. The groupies who stayed on were able to make a small living from
Poetic InjusticeOne of Australia's most well known poets, Adam
Lindsay Gordon, settled in the area in 1866. He bought 20ha on the banks of the Donnelly River near One Tree
Bridge and then leased another 20,000ha known as Mt Lewen Station. On the leased land he placed 5,000 sheep
that he had droved from the port of Bunbury. Like so many other settlers Gordon left disgruntled unable to
succeed in the harsh conditions. It was Adam Lindsay Gordon's shepherd who was the first to discover graphite
near the Donnelly River, which started a short lived mining industry.
Towering InfernoThe tree towers are one of the areas greatest attractions. These huge
lookouts, which are dotted throughout the jarrah and karri forests , were established in the 1930's by the Forests Department as a way of
pinpointing the location of a forest fire quickly.
The first lookout tower 'Big Tree' was built in 1938 and used for spotting karri fires. Within 14
years eight tree towers were dotted throughout the region. The most well known of these towers is the Diamond Tree
Lookout, towering some 51m. Built in 1941 the tower is open to the public.
Today Manjimup is known as the Jewel of the South West and is a thriving community based around the timber and
agriculture industries. Agriculture includes dairy, vegetables (onions, cauliflower, peas and potatoes) fruit
growing (cherries and apples) and beef and sheep farming. There are also numerous festivals celebrated throughout
the year including the Cherry Harmony Festival.