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Bindoon, WA

Important stopover service town on the Great Northern Highway

Bindoon is a small town on the Great Northern Highway which operates as a tourist stopover point as well as servicing a predominantly cattle, sheep and fruit growing (particularly citrus fruit) district. In recent times, because of its proximity to Perth, it has become a popular home for people seeking a semi-rural lifestyle. Also, because it is on the Great Northern Highway, it is a conduit for huge pieces of mining machinery coming from Perth-Fremantle and being trucked to the mining sites.

Location

Bindoon is located 93 km north of Perth via the Great Northern Highway.

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Origin of Name

In the late 1830s a European settler moved into the area and named his property Bindoon which he believed, possibly incorrectly, was a local Aboriginal word for 'a place where yams grow'.

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Things to See and Do

Brockman Interpretative Centre
Located 4 km south of Bindoon the interpretative site is the home of the district's very elegant Chittering Road Board building as well as the Heritage Museum and the local Arts and Crafts centre. For more information check out http://www.chittering.wa.gov.au/discover/brockman-centre.aspx.

Bindoon Heritage Museum
The Heritage Museum was established at the Interpretative Centre in 2010 by the Bindoon Historical Society which had been in operation since 1997. The display, which includes old farm machinery, vintage vehicles, historic household items and tools, is housed in the Chittering Road Board building which was built in 1928-1929. It is open Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday from 10.00 am - 3.00 pm, tel: (08) 9576 1352 or 9576 1090.

Claremont Cottage
Located on Gray Road, the Claremont Cottage is a home built in the 1860s, which was used as a halfway house by the monks at New Norcia who passed through the area on their way to and from Perth. The building, which is the oldest remaining building in Bindoon, has a chequered career since it was built as a three room stone cottage. The State Heritage of Western Australia writes that "In 1867, Irish brothers Matthew and Jeremiah Clune purchased properties in the Victoria Plains area. It seems this place was built before legal purchase was effected (in 1861). In 1860, stonemason John Sullivan took court action against Matthew Clune for non payment of work. The Clune brothers leased extensive pastoral properties in the Victoria Plains. After Matthew died in 1897, lengthy legal action took place, and by the time Jeremiah died in 1916, their estate was diminished. In 1902, Thomas Joseph Clune, (TJ) second son of Mathew, inherited 'Claremont'. In 1949, T. J. Clune's son Gus inherited the property. The phone exchange transferred from Bindoon General Store to 'Claremont' and was run by Ellie Phillips (nee Clune- daughter of Thomas). Some time after that, Bill Robinson, a Perth solicitor, purchased the property. In the 1960s the place became vacant and fell into disrepair. In 1984, property developer Kenneth Eather bought the property and developed it as part of the Chittering Country Club sub division. The place was extensively renovated and opened by MLA Des Dans in 1985. It was then the home of Bindoon Arts and Crafts and a stable agistment facility for Chittering Country Club members until the demise of the Chittering Country Club Association. The trustees were keen to see the place develop as a working museum. The place was subsequently purchased and tearooms and an art gallery were established. Check out http://inherit.stateheritage.wa.gov.au/Public/Inventory/PrintSingleRecord/8aa4bfa5-0d2e-406a-8903-90571f15295c for more information.

Holy Trinity Church
The Holy Trinity Anglican Church, located at 954 Great Northern Highway 9 km north of the village, was built in 1886 for less than £100. It is a fine example of rustic architecture with all the timbers being either pit sawn or hand-dressed with an adze and the stones being hauled by voluntary labour and laid by a local stonemason. For more information check out http://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WMJNYG_Holy_Trinity_Anglican_Church_Bindoon_Western_Australia.

Bindoon Boys Town or Catholic Agricultural College
Located at 3398 Bindoon-Dewars Pool Road, the Bindoon College is a place which today is a coeducational college but historically is a place which will live in infamy. See http://web.cacbindoon.wa.edu.au/files/aboutcacbindoonhistory.pdf and lots more for the description of the this place of horror. The treatment of the child migrants from England has been painfully documented in the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. These involved two suspicious deaths and, perhaps most tellingly, "The Catholic order has dismantled the grave of Brother Francis Paul Keaney at Bindoon Agricultural College, shifting his remains to a humble plot at Karrakatta, effectively erasing any trace of the Brother from the institution he once ruled over." The full story can be read at https://www.perthnow.com.au/news/wa/brutal-brother-francis-paul-keaney-erased-from-history-with-grave-dismantled-at-bindoon-agricultural-college-ng-6ffbdf1c25a7610482107a1ddad6633f. Too much pain. See the movie Sunshine and Oranges.

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Other Attractions in the Area

Walks in the District
The Bindoon Visitor Centre has a number of A4 sheets on walks in the area. They are titled ChitChat Trail Notes and include information and maps for the following:
Needoonga Walk
A 620 metre (1.2 km return) walk beside Lake Needoonga between Clune Park and Edmonds Reserve. It is flat and easy
Stonehouse Walk
A 1500 metre (3 km return) walk from Clune Park which rises up a steep hill and returns to Bindoon on a quiet country road
Spoonbill Lake
An 800 metre (1.6 return) flat trail around Spoonbill Lake where it is possible to see wood ducks, black ducks, dabchicks and waders.
Carty Reserve
A 750 metre (1.5 km return) walk along a creek line and in a revegetated reserve. The brochure has an extensive list of the plants that have become part of the revegetation - they include hakea, melaleuca, banksia and Marri, Flooded Gum and Wandoo.
Wannamal Walk
A 26 site historical walk over 3.2 km on a loop trail. It takes around 90 minutes and basically goes up Lake Street and down the Bindoon-Moora Road. Most of the buildings are quite recent but they give a good idea of the development in the area.
Peace Be Still
Peace Be Still is a guesthouse and campground and this A4 sheet lists a total of 12 walks which are available both to residents and to day visitors. The walks range from an easy 30 minutes (Special Valley) through to the Mill Walk (13.5 km).

Chittering Valley Road - A Pleasant Drive
Just south of Brockman Interpretative Centre the Chittering Valley Road heads off to the left and offers a pleasant alternative to the Great Northern Road. It includes vineyards, cellar doors, beautiful rural scenery, a number of impressive lookout and, given the trucks on the Great Northern Road, it is a quiet and peaceful alternative.

Wildflowers
Bindoon comes alive with spectacular displays of wildflowers between July and October. It also has significant stands of marri and jarrah on the hilltops around the town.

How to See WA Wildflowers - A Guide
When planning a trip there are a number of very simple rules.
(1) Start by downloading Your Holiday Guide to Western Australia’s Wildflowers at http://www.westernaustralia.com/en/things_to_do/forest_and_flowers/pages/wawildflowers.aspx#/. It is a comprehensive guide to the wildflowers. There are over 12,000 species and 60% of them are found nowhere else on the planet.
(2) There is a tendency to say "But I won't know what I'm looking at" but that is rubbish. There are a number of great books and the best, by far, is the answer to "Wildflowers for Dummies" titled "Colour Guide to Spring Wildflowers of Western Australia". It is privately published by Wajon Publishing Company, written by Eddie Wajon, and comes in three volumes – 1. Kalbarri and the Goldfields, 2. Perth and the Southwest and 3. Esperance and the Wheatbelt. They can all be purchased online from Kings Park & Botanic Garden in Perth. Check out https://www.aspectsofkingspark.com.au
The publication's design masterstroke is that the flowers are listed according to their colours and all the pages are colour coded. Thus Mr and Mrs Wildflower Illiterate, when gazing at a Spiny Synaphea, only needs to open at the "yellow flowers" section and flick through until they find the colour photo which matches the reality. The company can be contacted directly on (08) 9310 2936. 
(3) No one should ever underestimate the power of local knowledge and assistance. The Western Australian wheatbelt, probably because of the declining prices for both wool and wheat and the increased levels of salinity, has decided that the spring wildflowers are a good for the local economy and worthy of patronage. When innocently asking where I might see a wreath flower (they are a flower which naturally forms itself in a circle like a wreath – particularly appealing to those with a morbid interest in death) at the local coffee shop in Morowa I was told that there were some in the area but the person who knew was at the information office. 
At the information office I was advised, and this is verbatim, to "drive down the main street until you see the road that crosses over the railway line, drive across the line and past the Police Station and Fire Station (or is it the SES), turn right at the next road, continue up past the sheds for a couple of hundred yards [metres haven't arrived here yet] and you'll see some beside the road". Absorbing the instructions I headed off and three minutes later, having noticed a sign reading "Wreath Flowers" on a fence, I found the plant. 
Morowa also publish a leaflet titled "Morowa Wildflower Drives" which, if you were thorough, could keep you in the area for a couple of days.
At the next town, Mingenew (which, for lovers of Australian Big Things now boasts the Big Wheat Stalk – known locally as "Big Ears") the information centre provides both a map and a list of locations with details like "20 km on the Pingelly road on the left hand side there are some excellent wreath flowers". And at Watheroo there's a wonderful local mud map with wryly enthusiastic comments like "Heaps of banksia, grevillea, snake bush etc along the road" and, getting quite technical "Rare and Endangered. E. Rhodantha (rose mallee) Only large patch in the world".
(4) There is a logical route which can be honed or expanded according to the amount of time you want to spend. 
The best starting place, if you want to get a good foretaste of what you are about to experience in the wild, is to visit Kings Park & Botanic Garden in the heart of Perth. Apart from offering sensational views over the Swan River and the Perth CBD the gardens boast a 17 hectare area which has more than 1700 native species of wildflowers. This is, not surprisingly, rather pristine and not very wild but it does allow you to develop a working knowledge of devils pins, kangaroo paws, desert peas, everlastings, starflowers, grevilleas, firebush, a range of orchids and hundreds of other natives. 
You really don't need to be a flora expert. All you need are your eyes and a sense of wonder because the Western Australian wildflowers in spring really are as remarkable and significant as a unique part of Australia as Uluru, the Great Ocean Road or Cradle Mountain. 

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History

* Prior to European settlement the area around Bindoon was home to the Yuat Aboriginal people although it may have been also used by the Balardung and the Wajuk.

* The Bindoon area was one of the first areas outside of Perth to be settled. As early as 1835 the Chittering valley had been explored by George Fletcher Moore.

* The first European settler in the area, William Brockman, named his property Bindoon in 1843 which is thought to be the local Aboriginal word for 'a place where yams grow'.

* George Moore returned and settled in the district in 1843.

* The early pioneers grew fruit and vegetables and raised a few head of cattle and sheep. 

* By 1859 there were eleven Europeans living in the district.

* Between 1880-1889 the district's settlers increased dramatically with 68 new locations being purchased from the Crown.

* The first Roads Board election occurred in 1896.

* The Chittering Roads Board building was constructed in 1928-1929.

* By the 1950s the village was only a post office, garage and general store.

* The townsite of Bindoon was gazetted in 1953.

* In 1994 a petition of 30,000 people demanded the government of Western Australia investigate sexual and physical abuse at Kearney College.

* In 2011 a film, Oranges and Sunshine, told the story of Kearney College.

* In 2013 a bushfire forced the evacuation of over 100 people from Bindoon.

* In 2014 the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse found that "Christian Brothers leaders knew of allegations of sexual abuse of children at four WA orphanages, including Bindoon, and failed to manage the homes to prevent the systemic ill-treatment for decades."

* Today Bindoon's proximity to Perth and its location en route between Perth and New Norcia has made it a stopping place for tourism. 

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Visitor Information

Chittering Visitors Centre, 6180 Great Northern Road, tel: (08) 9576 1100.

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Useful Websites

There is a useful local website. Check out http://www.chittering.wa.gov.au.

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