Potted Histories


Brunswick’s History Linked with Australind Venture

By E.G. Davis, c. 1958

Two local rivers and the town of Brunswick got their names from the same person, the Duke of Brunswick – Luneberg [sic Luneburg], Commander-In-Chief of the Prussian army, defeated by Napoleon in 1806 at the battle of Jena.

The Brunswick River was discovered and explored by Collie and Lieut. Preston, who found that it joined the Collie River at what became known as “the Junction”, near Australind.

The Brunswick River first appeared on a map of West Australia printed in London in 1839.

James Stirling, first Governor of the Swan River Colony, (as it was called) records crossing the Brunswick River on a journey across country from Kojonup to the Harvey River.

On August 31, 1840 a dinner was held in London to farewell the advance party of the West Australian Company which sailed to the colony in the Island Queen. The party was comprised mostly of surveyors and their assistants under a Mr. Austin, whose duty it was to prepare the way at the proposed city of Australind for the main party to follow.

On March 18, 1841, the sailing ship Parkfield arrived and landed near Australind 125 passengers under the W.A. Company’s commissioner, Mr. Marshall Waller Clifton. With him was his family, including Robert W. Clifton, the secretary of the Company and the father of Algernon F. Clifton of Alverstoke, Brunswick, who was well known there for a number of years.

No Bridges

In those early days there was no bridge over any river between Fremantle and the Vasse, now Busselton, until William Forrest, father of John Forrest, the State’s first Premier was employed to build a bridge over the Brunswick River, near Australind. The bridge was opened by M. W. Clifton on March 2, 1845, and allowed settlers who had arrived at Australind in the Island Queen, Parkfield, Diadem and Trusty to farm or move from the sandy country at the coast to good country, near what became known as Brunswick.

Members of the Clifton family were followed by others, including Thomas Marriott, snr, who took up land at Riverdale and Andrew McAndrew, who took up land that he called Wedderburn, previously owned by a Dr. Ferguson.

It is not known if James McAndrew, who was in Brunswick in 1894, was in the State when Wedderburn was first taken up, but it is known that a bit later the McAndrew brothers brought David Eedle from Scotland[1] to look after their sheep at Wedderburn. Some years later Eedle bought Frogmore where he was well known for a long period. One of his daughters married a Mr. Heppingstone who farmed there for many years.

The name Ommaney has been known in the district for a long time. In Rev. J. R. Wollaston’s “Picton Journal” he mentions that on his son’s arrival at Picton from Fremantle in May 1841, he was welcomed by Mr. and Mrs. Ommaney who were farming there. Possibly Ommaney-road was the original track from Picton to Brunswick.

Ommaney Line

Old settlers say that the first telegraph line to Bunbury was known for many years as the “Ommaney Line” and this may be the origin of Ommaney-road, part of the main Perth- Bunbury-road. Mr. Ommaney was a surveyor.

As recorded in the general story of the district, Thomas Marriott, snr, and Mary Lyons who later became his wife came from England on the Diadem. The Marriotts were the first couple married in the Picton Church and Mrs. Mary Marriott was the first woman to live at Brunswick.

Their sons were well known in the district for many years and William and David were original members of the Brunswick and Districts Road Board, when it was formed on February 11, 1895. When William Reading retired, David Marriott was appointed chairman. Thomas Marriott’s daughter Cecilia, Mrs G. Meredith, still lives in Bunbury and is aged 93 years.

The first school was built by Brunswick settlers about 1870 opposite to Frogmore, and Miss Fanny Eedle was its first school mistress. This old building was used for Church of England and Congregational Church services before a church was built. Many Brunswick couples were married in the school.

Before the railway was opened on September 19, 1893, coach horses were changed at John Crampton’s farm near the present school. Mr. Crampton took charge of the mail which he kept in a box in his bedroom.

The year 1893 was a great one for Brunswick because on April 5 the Brunswick Farmers’ Association held its first meeting. Mr. David Eedle was the first chairman and Mr. John Partridge of White Rocks was secretary. Original members included Messrs. John and Luke Crampton, Bradley Gardner, Arthur E. Clifton, Algernon F. Clifton, Maitland Clifton and J. E. M. Clifton (all members of the original Clifton family of Australind), Jas. Milligan, T. Marriott, Henry, Charles and Thomas Offer, William Reading, Edwin M. Rose, R. H. Rose, jnr, Ryall and J. P. Wellard of Benger.

Agricultural Hall

It is evident that this Association, the first in the district, did much to help Brunswick become an important centre. In 1894 the Government was induced by the Association to erect an Agricultural Hall, probably the first in the whole of the South-West. This idea became the policy of the Government of the day and other halls were later built at Cookernup and Harvey and other places, entirely at Government expense.

Other original members of the Association who were not Brunswick residents but evidently keen to help were Messrs. Samuel Buckby, J. Thompson Logue, William Logue and William J. Sutton of Harvey, and the Hon. H. W. Venn, the district’s Parliamentary representative who lived at Dardanup.

Murray was the first local electoral division, but from the late 1860s a great part of the South- West was controlled by the old Wellington Road Board. Thomas Hayward, of Bindinup [sic Bundidup] and Bunbury, was its first chairman. The Board stretched from Pinjarra to Bridgetown.


Early Brunswick Settlers argued for Railway

In the first part of his story of early Brunswick last week, E.G.D told of the early identities of the district and of their problems. In this part he continues with the development of the area and of settlers’ efforts to get railway communications with the city.

Before taking up Bindinup [sic Bundidup], Mr. Hayward had been leasing Wedderburn in partnership with Mrs. Rose, snr, and Mr. Charles Rose. He recorded in his diary that in 1857 they lost a lot of their dairy herd through poison, probably zamia palm and heart leaf.

Thomas Hayward also recorded two episodes of crossing the Brunswick River near Frogmore before any bridges had been built. Mr. W. B. Mitchell, father of the State’s former Premier and Governor, Sir James Mitchell, would have been drowned, but for the help of Mr. Heppingstone, who pulled him out of the flooded river.

Mr. R. J. Heppingstone and his son George were well known at Brunswick for many years. Mr. James Perren and his sons Fred, Joe, Arthur, Jesse and daughter Rose, who later married Mr. J. Owen Mitchell, all lived in the old two story brick building which was later known as the State Farm.

James Piggott, who originally lived near the Brunswick River near Australind, and his son William, were also well known, as were Reuben Gardner and his son Bradley, who are mentioned in old records. Thomas Talbot, snr, widely known in the Coolgardie Goldfields, bought Wedderburn from Hon. Edward Rose M.L.C., who had this old property for many years. Some of the old leadlight windows at Wedderburn were brought from Scotland by McAndrew.

When in 1894, the Government proposed to form a new Road Board of smaller area than the Wellington Board, the Brunswick Farmers’ Association voted in favour of retaining the name of Wellington. The Government did not agree.

The first election of the new Board was held on February 11, 1895, when the returning officer was Mr. John Partridge, J.P. Those elected were William Reading, 3 years; William Marriott, David W. Marriott and Joseph N. Logue, 2 years; A. F. Clifton, R. H. Rose, jnr, and Arthur Perren, 1 year.

W.Reading was elected chairman and it was decided to advertise for a secretary and collector of licences at a salary of £12 for the first year. The next meeting was held on February 20, 1895, and Mr. James Dixon of Bunbury was appointed.

In 1895 after the Collie fields had become established in the coal industry, the Government agreed to construct a railway line to what was later to be known as Collie. This Association strongly supported by the Road Board, called a meeting at Brunswick to protest against the line being built from Donnybrook. The Association and Road Board advocated a line from Brunswick via Perren’s, but finally the Government built the line via Lunenburg. It was first surveyed to join the South-West line north of Brunswick but John Forrest, a great believer in decentralisation, insisted that it should come in facing towards Bunbury.

With the opening of the new line on July 1, 1898 Brunswick became Brunswick Junction and the State was saved millions of pounds in coal haulage to the metropolitan area through the determined action of the Brunswick people. The distance from Collie fields to Perth was shortened by about 40 miles through the alteration of the route.


A move by the Association in August 1897 was unsuccessful. It proposed that a rail loop line be built from Brunswick to Serpentine, via Myalup and Mandurah and in October 1891, R. H. Rose got signatures in favour of the upper railway line, midway between the South-West line and the Coast-road. In 1892 William Reading had advocated what was known as a mid-way route before the line was built from Picton to Pinjarra. Not much is known about this suggested route which would have been on the line now followed by the State Electricity Commission’s power line from Bunbury to Fremantle.

Undaunted by the rejection of their ideas, William Reading, in August 1911, on behalf of the Coast Railway League arranged for a deputation to the Minister for Railways, who promised to get a report on the League’s proposal for a railway from Bunbury to near Rockingham via the Coast-road.

There was a big meeting at Parkfield but nothing came of it except that the Government spent a lot of money constructing the best piece of road in the district from the Wellesley-road junction with the Coast-road to Myalup. For many years this road stood as a monument to the Coast Railway League which died young.

In July1900, there was no townsite where Brunswick stands today. The Association wanted land for a township east and west of the railway yards. Mr. Heppingstone was approached and offered to sell land for a townsite from £12 to £20 per acre but this was not accepted.

Later in the same year he offered to sell 130 acres east and west of Brunswick station and south of the Upper Brunswick-road at £10 per acre to the Government, which refused the offer.

In October 1900, Miss Laura Clifton presented the Association with a pair of candlesticks evidently for use in the hall. It is hoped that in the atomic age these candlestick will be preserved and form the foundation of a district museum.

In 1900 James McFarlane and Conning suggested the erection of a plant at Brunswick to pasteurise milk. No support was promised to the scheme, but 55 years later it came through the progressive enterprise of Brownes’ Ltd, followed by Peters Ltd.

In 1902 the Association asked the railway to alter the time table of the “Cockies’ Express”. Other requests were for single fares and there was a protest against the carriage of butter in the same van as livestock, bone dust and other obnoxious matter.

Library Move

One of the most interesting suggestions brought before the association was that by Mr. Hawkins who proposed that Andrew Carnegie [American philanthropist] be asked for a donation of £500 to establish a library at Brunswick. David Marriott suggested that the sum be increased to £2,500. The suggestion was adopted but unfortunately the motion was rescinded at the next meeting, so Carnegie never had the chance to provide a library at Brunswick.

Elvira Gully near Alverstoke was under discussion at more Road Board meetings than any other place in the district. This dangerous culvert was finally put right by the Main Roads Department when the Brunswick-Australind-road was made into a highway, 40 years after the original complaint was recorded in the Road Board minutes.

The Brunswick and Districts Road Board’s first rate book started in 1900. It shows many interesting facts. Before a rate was struck, the Board’s only source of income were Government grants and licenses.

In 1900 Collie was the name of the siding known as Roelands. Roelands was the large area of land formerly owned by Septimus Roe the State’s first Surveyor-General.

Benger was called Mornington, but Benger Swamp was shown as an area of land. Wellington location 1 of 4,892 acres, owned by Dr. J. W. Hope, with an annual value of £61 was rated at 6d in the pound. This was the first rate levied in the district.

Quite a lot of the Collie coalfields was in the Brunswick district and [J. C.] Port and Company had two big sawmills near Worsley.

The first hotel in the district at Collie (now Roelands) was in the name of J. Stephens and was near the siding opposite Tim Ferry’s store.

The Black Swan Hotel at Brunswick is believed to be the first wooden hotel on the east side of the railway line.

No doubt a great deal could be written about the early days of Brunswick by those whose families have helped to pioneer this progressive district. It is hoped by the writer that many may be found who will put on record the many things that have been done in Brunswick in the past 50 years since Summers and Co., land agents of Perth, made a town in the centre of a very worthy agricultural district.

[1] Erratum: from http://inherit.stateheritage.wa.gov.au David Eedle (b. Long Crendon, England in 1814 and arrived in WA in 1842), worked at Ravenswood to gain local farming knowledge, before acquiring land at Brunswick (‘Frogmore’) and at Donnybrook.