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Dowerin, WA

Tiny, struggling wheatbelt town

Dowerin is a typical quiet wheatbelt town which services the surrounding wheat and sheep farmers. It is teetering on the edge of survival with a number of shops having closed, the town being particularly sleepy has developed a number of overt attempts at attracting tourists including the Tin Dog on the main road and the unusual park over the road from the Tin Dog which features three wise monkeys and some Chinese statues.

Location

Dowerin is located 165 km north-east of Perth via National Highway 94 and Goomalling Road.

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Origin of Name

It is believed that 'Dowerin' is derived from the word 'Daren' which was, reputedly, the name the local Ballardong Noongar people gave to the lakes to the south of the town. There is a debate as to whether the word is derived from 'dowarn' the Ballardong name for an Australian Ringbark parrot or from 'dower' meaning 'throwing stick'.

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Things to See and Do

Dowerin Museum
Dowerin Museum is located at 16 Cottrell Street - the house was built in 1915 and owned by the O'Shaughnessy family. It was lived in until 1968. The local historical society have preserved it as a typical example of a Western Australian wheatbelt home of the 1920s and 1930s. The house is notable for its exceptional pressed metal walls and the displays are an extensive collection of interesting furniture and clothing including old style swimming costumes and antique under garments.

Dowerin GWN7 Machinery Field Days
Dowerin's annual agricultural field day (held on the last Wednesday and Thursday of August) which is said to be the largest rural event in Western Australia. In recent times it has expanded so that the website now proudly declares: "From tractors to cheeses, water tanks to stud rams, fencing products to fine wines, the Dowerin Field Days has it all! Whether you are looking to build a house, upgrade your farming machinery, invest your money, increase your stock or decorate your family home, it really is your one stop shop!" Check out http://www.dowerin.wa.gov.au/about/dowerin-field-days/ for details.

The Tin Dog
On the edge of town is a large sculpture of a rusting Tin Dog. There’s a placard beside it which reads “Hello! I’m Rusty the Tin Dog. I was born in 2004 when the children of Dowerin District High School developed a project initiative to encourage people to stop in Dowerin. The students helped with the initial design, sourced funding for the materials [Lottery West, the World Wildlife Fund, Greening Australia among others] and employed an artist to build me.” It is a fitting monument to the tenacity of the local students who want their town to survive although modern transportation has made it redundant. Over the road are a number of statues of Chinese warriors, the three wise monkeys and other figures in a very dry park beside near the Information Board.

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History

* Prior to European settlement the area had been occupied for tens of thousands of years by the Ballardong Aboriginal people.

* The area around Dowerin was visited periodically by prospectors and shepherds during the 19th century. It was popular because there was reliable water in the area.

* The town didn't come into existence until 1895.

* By 1906 the railway reached the town and in 1912 the local road board was formed.

* In 1907 the town was officially gazetted.

* After World War I the town grew. By 1936 it had a population of over 1600.

* In recent times mechanisation has made wheat and sheep farming a lot less labour intensive. This has reduced the size of the district's population.

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Visitor Information

Dowerin Community Resource Centre, Stuart Street, Dowerin, tel: (08) 9045 4991.

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Useful Websites

There is a useful local council website - http://www.dowerin.wa.gov.au - with information about the local area.

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Got something to add?

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5 suggestions
  • Thank you for an interesting overview of Dowerin, I’m sure your blog will encourage visitors to our ‘tiny, struggling Wheatbelt town’. You fail to mention that this tiny community has the spirit and ingenuity to create and uphold the largest agricultural event in WA in the Dowerin GWN7 Field Days which celebrates it’s 50th year this year. This event is mainly run by volunteers from the community who strive to encourage people to visit our region and it’s a shame that mindless reports such as this do nothing but put a negative spin on a place where you clearly didn’t spend much time.

    We also have a very active community that is highly successful in sport and recreation with our football team taking out 5 regional premierships in the past 10 years against towns which I’m sure you’d regard as not ‘teetering on the edge of survival’ such as Gingin, Wongan etc…

    Very true that shops and businesses have unfortunately closed their doors but in reference to that maybe you could commend some of our fantastic businesses that have withstood the test of time and some of the new ventures to hit the high street such as our fantastic bakery which draws patrons from far and wide.

    Further to this, I feel that you have somewhat belittled a fantastic project which was driven and implemented by the children of our local high school in Rusty the Tin Dog. I agree the waterwise garden with the chinese statues isn’t particularly relevant but you have only highlighted the negatives of our community – nothing noted about the beautiful natural bushland of tin dog creek or the upcoming development of the Wheatbelt Heritage Rail project which will see a steam train locomotive operating between Dowerin, Wyalkatchem and Goomalling.

    Please don’t bother reporting on our fantastic community if all you can do is criticize. I have no doubt that through your travels you have the experience that makes you consider yourself an ‘expert’ in these matters but when writing this kind of thing please spare a thought for those people that call a place like Dowerin home and who constantly strive to ensure that our town is a great place to reside and do business, now and for the future of our young families.

    A concerned resident
  • If the spirit of the concerned resident is common across the community then whoever put this blog together will be eating their pixels. Go Dowerin I say!

    John C
  • One of the most boring towns in Western Australia. Accommodation is overpriced for very basic ‘pub rooms’. For a short time each year the town brings in thousands for its field days but for the rest of the year you will be left with the impression that the residents would rather you stopped somewhere else.

    Disappointed travellers
  • Sorry Disappointed travellers, if you had contacted the museum we would have been happy to show you through, sadly we are not open every day but always happy to talk about the history of Dowerin, its pioneers and its extraordinary stories. Perhaps you could give us another try, March is not the best time for anyone in the town at the end of a long, hot (and the last one was very long and hot) summer.

    Diane H.
  • Is the Wheatbelt Heritage Rail project operating or can you provide a date when it will
    be operating. Thank you.

    Ron Jones