North Dandalup is a small town in the Peel region of Western Australia along the South Western Highway between Serpentine and Pinjarra. Its local government area is the Shire of Murray.
As a thriving community, North Dandalup celebrated its Centenary Year in 1949. There had been settlement since 1849 when 10 acres of land were granted to Mr William Pollard and for the next 50 years, agricultural pursuits led to development from the hills in the east across the plains in the west. The area included rich fertile plains watered by springs in the hills.
The arrival of the Railway in 1893 brought new life and an increased population to the district.
The North Dandalup School was built in 1900.
Whittaker Brothers erected a sawmill four miles east of North Dandalup at the top of the scarp in 1902. They built a railway line from the mill to the edge of the scarp and a wooden tramway from there to storage yards next to the North Dandalup station.
A town grew up beside the mill including a store, boarding house, hall, library and even a school. The mill closed permanently after it had been destroyed by fire in November 1944.
In 1903 the Mechanics Institute at Whittaker’s received a grant in aid and a new Hall. Mr A G Whittaker declared the Hall open in June 1903 while ‘cornet and banjo solos and concerted vocal music provided a most enjoyable programme’! The Hall provided room for a (temporary) school , an ‘excellent’ library, a room for billiards and a facility for Saturday night socials and dances. As numbers grew a new school building for Whittaker’s Mill children was provided.
An Anglican Church and the first Public Hall were erected in 1904.
By 1949 North Dandalup was being promoted for its irrigation, electricity, scenic beauty from a delightful waterfall and closeness to the Capital City of the State!
The first cultivation by the early settlers was all hand dug - gardens and corn. William Pollard introduced the first sheep and cattle and was the first butcher in North Dandalup. Fine horses were bred and orchards were established producing notable apples, passion fruit, cape gooseberries and dried fruit. Flowers and vegetables were transported to Pinjarra by train.
MEMORIES OF WHITTAKER'S MILL
By Iren Olive Fison nee Green (1923-2013)
In a densely wooded basin
Walled in by rugged hills
Tall timbers all around it
There once stood Whittaker’s mill
A happy secure little settlement
Their own store, a hall and school.
A river not far distant,
A natural swimming pool.
Wild flowers blooming in springtime
A magnificent sight to share
Like nature's garden around them
Birds and wildlife everywhere
For years it provided employment
A friendly and safe place to stay
Where families forged those friendships
That endure to this day
Huge logs upon the landing
Now gone without a trace
Horse drawn whims their transport
These later by trucks were replaced
There's an empty, eerie silence
Where the mill once used to be
No more engines working
No more timber from the tree
No more happy faces
The greetings cheerful and bright
No more the work time sirens
Sounding morning, noon and night
The homes have vanished forever
Like those childhood days long gone
The forest now covers all landmarks
Yet memories linger on.
These are helped by the old rambling roses
The limes in colorful array
A fenced in well by the creek bed
And fruit trees battling to stay
There is little to show it existed
Since fire destroyed the mill
But the bushland still echoes the memories
Up there on Whittaker's hill.
The Early History of North Dandalup is the story of its people who overcame hardships in the bush and on the land and survived two World Wars and a depression. Despite the threat of summer bushfires and relative isolation, the early settlers and residents of North Dandalup and Whittaker’s Mill maintained a strong, safe and stable community.