A local landmark . .
Instructions to intrepid explorer Ensign Dale regarding the road to York, dated 5th September 1831, mentioned Green Mount as a well-known landmark. However, who named the hill that gave its name to a Shire locality, and why, is unknown. The land formed part of Governor Stirling’s 4 000 acre land grant, which he named ‘Woodbridge’. After Stirling left the colony it would be many years before his land was sub-divided into suburban lots.
Image: Greenmount National Park.
with a convict history
The Swan River was founded as a free colony, but labour was in short supply so, after petitions from settlers, Britain sent out convicts from 1850 to build roads and other public works. Greenmount was the site of an early convict station established on the York Road. It remained one of the largest along this road, although others sprang up as the road system in the colony was expanded.
and even rock-breaking but …
Convicts from the depot worked at a granite quarry at the foot of Greenmount. The ‘convict quarry’, which provided ballast for the Eastern Railway, was later taken over by a private company.
picnickers replace rock-busters
Trains started running regularly through the Greenmount area from1884, stopping at Greenmount to refill their water tanks. The Railway Department introduced ‘picnic trains’, which became very popular, to take advantage of the unspoiled bushland and scenic views.
James Morrison, a land developer, acquired a portion of Stirling’s Woodbridge grant and named it ‘Blackboy Hill’ estate, after the large number of grass trees on this area of the hill. One of the buyers was an Ernest Wood of London who later advertised his lots for sale in April 1914. When war broke out in August that year, the Commonwealth Government commandeered Wood’s land to train troops. As a result, Blackboy Hill has become a significant site in Australia’s WWI history, with 32 000 members of the first Australian Imperial Forces (AIF) receiving their initial training there. Soldiers from ‘the Hill’ fought gallantly in the Gallipoli Peninsula, on the Western Front, and in Palestine. Ten soldiers won the Victoria Cross.
After hostilities ceased in 1918, the camp became an isolation hospital for those unlucky enough to contract ‘Spanish’ Influenza, an epidemic that killed many thousands of people worldwide. At the height of the Great Depression, the camp was reopened to house more than a thousand unemployed single men working for sustenance wages on the development of roads and the picnic areas in what is now John Forrest National Park.
Calls to develop Blackboy Hill for housing were resisted by returned servicemen, and part of the site of the ‘birthplace of the AIF’ was set aside for a memorial reserve when Greenmount Primary School was re-located to this site. Today, the memorial is the site of commemorations marking significant events in Australia’s WWI history, such as ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day.
State Registered Places in Greenmount:
Above: Machine Gunners at Blackboy Hill Training Camp. MHHS Collection.
Above: Innamincka Road, Greenmount, looking towards Blackboy Hill in 1928. The little white house on left hand side was the first Greenmount School (1913?). In the 20th century it was a dairy.