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WA Day/ Foundation Day

Western Australia Day or simply WA Day was formerly known as Foundation Day. It

is a public holiday in Western Australia (WA), celebrated on the first Monday in June each year to commemorate the founding of the Swan River Colony.

The Swan River Colony was proclaimed in 1829 and in 1832 Lieutenant Governor James Stirling decided that an annual celebration was needed to unite the colony’s inhabitants. According to Wikipedia (May 2023) this is said to include settlers and Aboriginal Australians. However in back in 1832, it was unlikely that he was including our Aboriginal Australians, as the recognition of Aboriginal Australians did not happen for many years later. He decided this event would take place on 1st June each year.

The holiday was celebrated as Foundation Day up until 2011; in 2012, it was renamed Western Australia Day as part of a series of law changes recognising Aboriginal Australians as the original inhabitants of Western Australia. (ref Wikipedia )

It was not long after settlement that most land considered suitable for farming was taken up and Stirling was looking for more suitable land that it was suggested to look “over the Hills”

Ensign Robert Dale and others crossed the Darling Range and explored eastwards for about 100km. On August 11th 1830 they reached the summit of a hill they named Mt. Bakewell. They returned to the governor with the news that there was good land to be had.

In October Governor Stirling travelled with Dale and they arrived at what is now known as the River Avon and explored the area.

In no time plans were being made for new towns of York Beverley and Northam and by 1831 Dale and a team of general labourers and axemen hacked a track through the bush. This track improved gradually over the years into a road which took between two and three days to travel between Guildford and York.

Bilgomen Ruins C1929

As time went on watering places were set up for travellers and their horses and eventually inns were built. The settlers would have maintained the road until convict labour was available in the 1850s.

York Road has had a few name changes and it was renamed Great Eastern Highway in 1938 as part of a longer highway through to Kalgoorlie.

Some of the convict-built sites along the route still remain and we have photographs in our collection.

Close to the top of the Greenmount Hill a convict station was set up and a well sunk to provide water. This was known as Bilgomen Well. Not much is left of the buildings on the site any more, but we have a picture taken in the 1920s of what remained of a mud brick chimney stack which was used in the kitchen of the convict station.

The Mahogany Inn was originally set up as military barracks

Purchased by the Habgood brothers in 1841 and used as an inn for accomodation for travellers along the York Road.

Further East, a Police Station was built on the York Road at a place called "The Lakes". It was closed in 1887 and refurbished by the Barnes family c1918 as a private residence.

Barnes family refurbished Police Station as a private residence C1918


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