For thousands of years, the plains around Gnowangerup were home to the Goreng Noongars, evidenced by stone implements still found along the creeks. In the mid-nineteenth century, sandalwood cutters established camps in the Borden area but European settlement was slow, until the completion of the railway line from Katanning in 1905.
Gnowangerup's Ned Kelly connection
Ned Kelly was a notorious bushranger and outlaw who became a bit of a nuisance to the authorities in Victoria during the 1800s. They became so tired of his oafish behaviour that they eventually hanged him.
Ned didn't make it to Gnowangerup but rumour has it his daughter did. At some time in the past, she was the publican of the Gnowangerup Hotel. Perhaps she just wanted to get as far from Melbourne as she could, until things cooled down and people forgot about Dad.
Well, they didn't forget. There's a 3 metre statue of Ned Kelly (carefully carved from a single piece of wood) right next to the pub today. For all the outlaws among us, it's a great opportunity to have a photograph taken with Ned.
A self-guided tour of the town
Pick up a pamphlet from the Shire office and follow the map, which pinpoints Gnowangerup's numerous historical buildings. These include the Memorial
Hall, Railway Place, and the ANZ and National Bank buildings.
When visiting Gnowangerup, make sure you visit Aylmore Mineral Springs. Aboriginal legend has it that two warriors fought to the death over territory rights, and out of the two patches of bloodstained earth came two springs of water. The high iron content in the water accounts for the colour and, some say, represents the blood of the dead warriors. The water flows freely into the Gnowangerup Creek, though picturesque wetlands. Follow the signs along Kwobrup Road.
On the corner of Strathaven and Yougenup Roads you will find examples of the early machinery the first settlers used to make a living for their families and bring prosperity to WA. These hardy people did it tough and they would have looked on with head-shaking awe when these bright and shiny labour-saving miracles first arrived in town.
There are ploughs, headers, harvesters, hay binders, a chaff-crusher, corn crushers, a flour mill, sulky, buckboard and many other pieces from different times.
Located in the front garden of the Shire administration building. Imported in 1889, the tractor was used to clear much of the local countryside and is a well-restored relic of an era long gone.
Gnowangerup Historic Centre
Located on Yougenup Road. See how the pioneers managed to get through life without television or even a 4WD. You'll feel much better about your own circumstances when you look at the primitive devices they relied on to run a home. The Centre contains displays, early photographs and a written history of the town and the district. Open Mondays and Wednesdays 9 -12pm. Afterhours contact 9827 1267 or 9827 1371.
Old Gnowangerup Cemetery
Some of Gnowangerup's early settlers, including children and babies and three Noongar people, are buried at this site. The cemetery is fenced off and a memorial plaque details the names of those buried here. This was Gnowangerup's second cemetery the first is believed to have been located on Cecil Street.
Gnowangerup Aboriginal Museum and Keeping Place
This museum will show the history of the indigenous people, associated with the Mission and Stirling Ranges, who used the plains as hunting grounds for thousands of years.
Wildflower Reserve and Virgin Mary Rock
During spring, this well-kept secret is a mass of red and white orchids and just about every other wildflower known. Toward the rear of the reserve, looking into private property, you can see a likeness of the Virgin Mary etched naturally into rock. (Follow the signs on Airport Road.)
Merino Stud Field Days
During Spring the local Studs hold on property Field days which follow onto their Ram Sales. In Gnowangerup, studs such as Willimenup, Pallinup, Anglesey, Barloo and Mianelup renowned around the district and the country as producers of fine merino sheep. Prospective buyers view the rams, ewes and progeny along with wool results to find the best suited for their stock. The Field Days and Sales are often followed by a BBQ and catch-up between the proprietors, agents, clients and friends.
Accommodation & Meals
Gnowangerup Hotel - The historic Gnowangerup Hotel is situated on Allardyce Street and is renowned for their Gnowanga Burger and other delicious bar meals. The Hotel also caters for sit down meals and group bookings. The Gnowangerup Hotel is open for meals Monday to Saturday, 6.30 pm to 8.00 pm, and Sunday 6.00 pm to 8.00 pm. The Gnowangerup Hotel can be contacted on 9827 1013.
Gnowangerup Roadhouse Yougenup Rd. Takeaway and sitdown meals. Contact Des and Karan Murray. Ph 9827 1237.
Gnowangerup B&B Offers comfortable cosy beds at a reasonable price. Close to main business district but far enough away to be peaceful. The Gnowangerup B&B is located on 56 Yougenup Rd. Phone 98271278 to book.
For more information, please visit the Shire of Gnowangerup website or phone 9827 1007.