No room at the inn
Police escorting prisoners did not find the inn as convivial an establishment as did other travellers on the York Road. The publican demanded payment for lodging and would only allow officers and prisoners to sleep in the large kitchen where teamsters slept and also caroused. The publican’s offer to build a special room to rent to the police was not taken up.
Call the police
By 1862 the twin problems of prison escapes and bushranging resulted in The Lakes Police Station being established. The constable in charge made regular bush patrols, checked sawyers’ licenses and rounded up escapees from road camps. He also locked up teamsters judged incapable of driving their teams after time spent at the inn opposite. The station closed for good in 1887.
Where there’s a mill
A sawmill north of The Lakes operated for seven or eight years from 1886 and when Lacey’s No 3 millsite reverted to the crown in 1903 there were plans for a settlement. But the itinerant firewood cutters, charcoal burners and others making a living in the area weren’t interested in the ‘working men’s blocks’ and the townsite of Beechina never eventuated.
First drinks . .
The earliest known settlers within the present-day boundaries of the Shire of Mundaring established the Halfway House Inn in 1831 on the road to York that linked Perth with areas suitable for grazing flocks and growing crops. This first inn, on the original track, was replaced by another of the same name on a better route (today’s Great Southern Highway) and the second inn’s ruins are still visible near The Lakes roadhouse.
Above: The former Police Station at The Lakes. The building was expanded in the 1920s by the Barnes family. MHHS Collection.