Water runs through . .
Wooroloo is the local spelling of a word with Aboriginal origins. In 1836, James Drummond noted Aboriginal people referred to certain pools in a brook that joined the Avon River as 'Worrilow’. Not far from these pools, plans for a townsite to be called Worriloo were drawn up in 1841. The townsite never developed. Further upstream, a well to supply teamsters was known as Warriloo Well. Lands Department plans were amended to 'Wooroloo' in 1903.
Image: Convalescing WW! Soldiers at the Wooroloo Sanatorium. MHHS Collection.
Brothers in farms
Two Byfield brothers settled on the upper reaches of Wooroloo Brook to farm, a third brother set up a steam sawmill once the Eastern Railway made the area more accessible. Byfield’s Mill was managed by yet another Byfield brother. It became an official stop on the Eastern line, attracting more orchardists and farmers. The name changed to Wooroloo in 1897 when the mill stop was raised to booking station status.
Extensive grazing leases covered much of the area before 1900, but by the early 1900s the focus turned to timber. Wooroloo was the centre for sleeper hewers and charcoal burners camping in the surrounding bush. A second sawmill opened nearby at Werribee, and a third to the north of the settlement in 1905. During WWI, local Karri trees helped solve the shortage of timber for axe handles, which was usually imported from America. Using a steam engine from one of the closed sawmills, the Buffalo Handle Factory produced handles until the 1940s.
Beechina Hill was chosen as the site for a sanatorium to treat ‘consumptives’, as tuberculosis or TB sufferers were known. The decision was partly due to the supposed beneficial effects of the fresh air at that elevation. The first effective drug against TB was only discovered in 1944, and many patients at the sanatorium died and are buried in the adjacent cemetery. Originally opened in 1915, the ‘Sanny’ later became a general hospital after the Perth Chest Hospital opened in 1958. In 1970, it was converted to a minimum-security prison.
State Registered Places in Wooroloo:
Byfields Mill School, Wooroloo, c1895. MHHS Collection.
Above: Wooroloo Sanatorium, c1915.
Above: Fete at Wooroloo Hall, c1950s. MHHS Collection.