Quiet wheatbelt town noted for its impressive wildflower displays
Dalwallinu is a typical, small wheatbelt town whose importance relies on its location at the beginning of Western Australia's famous 'Wildflower Way' which stretches north through the wheatbelt to Mullewa and is best seen between July and October. Although there is nothing of particular historic interest in the town, the addition of an impressive Pioneer and Past Residents Wall and a collection of murals depicting World War I and the role of the Light Horse have provided some interesting local attractions. The wheat bulk loading facilities lie at the heart of the town's economy.
Dalwallinu is located 263 km north-east of Perth via the Great Northern Highway and 335 metres above sea level.^ TOP
Origin of Name
There is some dispute about the meaning of the word 'dalwallinu' with some sources claiming it is a local Aboriginal word meaning 'grass land' or 'good land' and others claiming it means 'a place to wait a while'.^ TOP
Things to See and Do
Dalwallinu Discovery Centre
Located prominently on Johnstone Street, the Dalwallinu Discovery Centre is a superb example of how a small wheatbelt town can turn itself into something special. The building, designed by Doepel Marsh Architects, has unusual "trees" as poles on the side of the building. These are made from 3mm weather resistant steel plates. The building contains the Visitor Information Centre, the local Library and a Community Resource Centre. It is open from 8.30 am - 4.30 pm Monday to Friday. It is an excellent place to get information about the local wildflower hotspots.
Pioneer and Past Residents Wall
The Dalwallinu Pioneer and Past Residents Wall is located on Johnston Street opposite the Dalwallinu Hotel-Motel. It is a series of plaques, each measuring 300 mm by 150 mm, which record the early families in the district. A typical plaque is that of Jack and Amy Carter which records "Jack Carter arrived in Wubin in 1926 to manage his uncle's farm at Jibberding. Amy Carter came from Melbourne to visit her brothers in 1929. They were married at Cailbro farm in 1931 and had three sons Bill, Harry and Dennis. Jack served in the army 1940-1944. They acquired their own farm in 1945. Jack was a Road Board member from 1952 until his untimely death in 1956. Amy was the church pianist at Jibberding for many years, a Sunday School teacher, CWA member and tennis player. She remained in the district until her 81st year, died in Perth in 1990."
Dalwallinu Centenary of ANZAC
Located in Johnston Street, the Dalwallinu Centenary of ANZAC is a series of five concrete walls each of which has been painted with a mural depicting the Australian forces and the Light Horse infantry during World War I. They were created in 2016 by artist-sculptor Irene Osbourne specifically to "commemorate the forces and their horses in the First World War". Check https://vwma.org.au/explore/memorials/5192 for more information. Nearby is the Memorial to the local Masonic Lodges.
Craft Centre and Snowy Rowles
Located in the Old Court House at 90 Johnstone Street, the Court House was moved to Dalwallinu from Buntine in 1925 and has recently become a Community Craft Shop. The interest in the building is the lock up where prisoners were held prior to their court appearance. The most infamous prisoner was Snowy Rowles who subsequently became a multiple murderer. The story is fascinating. Rowles worked on the Rabbit Proof Fence at Burracoppin, near Westonia, and it was there that the author, Arthur Upfield, who went on to become a noted crime fiction writer creating the Aboriginal detective “Boney”, was also working - they were some of the first people to work on the building of the Rabbit Proof Fence (it stretched from around Esperance on the south coast of Western Australia all the way to Port Hedland).
One night, as he was sitting around a campfire with the other workers, Upfield told them about a crime fiction he was writing – “The Sands of Windee” ... which was going to be about a murder which involved an ingenious way of disposing of a body in the desert.
It was supposed to be the perfect murder. There was no body. What happened to the body? Well, once the murder victim had been killed he would then be placed on a huge fire, with miscellaneous animals (kangaroos, a few chops, that sort of thing) and burnt to ash. The ash would be ground to a fine powder, put through a sieve and thrown to the four winds.
One detail: all the metal from the person (gold teeth, rings, jewellery) had to be removed and separately disposed of.
A few years later a stockman who knew Upfield, a man named Snowy Rowles, killed three men and disposed of their bodies by the method suggested in Upfield’s novel. Was it the perfect crime? Well Rowles made one mistake: he failed to destroy the metal from his third victim and, amazingly, a gold ring was traced back to New Zealand where an apprentice had widened it using 9 carat gold on a 24 carat gold ring. Rowles was caught, convicted and hung in Fremantle in 1932. The whole extraordinary story is recounted in a book by Terry Walker titled Murder on the Rabbit Proof Fence: The Strange Case of Arthur Upfield and Snowy Rowles.
The Windmill Shed
Located at 66 Dalwallinu-Kalannie Road (at the northern entrance to Kalannie), the Windmill Shed is the brainchild of Jim Sawyer who has collected over 80 fully restored windmills dating from the 1930s to the present day. The showroom includes three impressive murals, a machine which shows exactly how a windmill pump works, and an impressive array of windmills. Part of the appeal of "the shed" lies in Jim's stories about the local area and about the windmills he has collected. See https://www.facebook.com/The-Windmill-Shed-1438362409755991 for more information. There is an excellent, detailed story about Jim and Betty Sawyer and the museum at https://www.farmonline.com.au/story/5455940/this-windmill-collection-will-blow-you-away.
There are five walk trails around the town. They are all depicted on a map which is available from the Visitor Information Centre and they focus, successively, on the history of the town and the flora which surrounds the town. The trails are:
* Wattle and History Link
* Old Well to School Trail
* Old/New Country Trail
* Woodland/Heritage Trail
* Botanical Fauna/Flora Trail
Other Attractions in the Area
Seeing Wildflowers around Dalwallinu
Here are some places around Dalwallinu which are known for their wildflower displays. The advice is a summary of the information provided at http://www.dalwallinu.wa.gov.au/explore/what-to-do/wildflowers.aspx:
Located 33 km east from Pithara this is a large granite outcrop. As you turn off Pithara East Road there is a good stand of wattles on your right. As you turn left to Petrudor Rock there are usually patches of Everlastings on each side of the road. Wattles surround the pool area with different species flowering when in season. Gnarled Kunzea occurs in cracks on the granite rocks. Walk around the top of the rocks to find orchids, rainbow plants and grevilleas flowering during the season.
Xantippe Water Tank
At Xantippe Water Tank (which was built between 1923-1927 to store water), and is located 33 km east from Dalwallinu, it is possible to see Everlastings, Orchids and Boronia.
Wubin Rocks is located 7 km from Wubin on the Great Northern Highway, it has displays of white, pink and yellow Everlastings, plus Orchids, Pimelea and Wattles.
Buntine Rock is located 3 km from Buntine on Buntine East Road and provides panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. Around the rock are displays of Everlastings, several types of Orchids, Wattles and Melaleucas.
Mia Moon Reserve
Located 27 km from Dalwallinu off the Gunyida-Wubin Road is a granite outcrop, with a gnamma hole, which is surrounded by Everlastings and several varieties of Orchids.
At Jibberding Reserve there are fields of pink, yellow and white Everlastings.
There is a downloadable map showing all the main wildflower sites in the shire. Check out http://www.dalwallinu.wa.gov.au/Profiles/dalwallinu/Assets/ClientData/Documents/Explore/map_201608050839.pdf.
Wubin Wheatbelt Museum
Located on the Great Northern Highway 24 km north of Dalwallinu the Heritage Wheatbin Museum depicts Wubin's grain growing history through photographs and models, with the emphasis on bulk handling and displaying the machinery involved in this farming revolution. There is also an extensive collection of minerals and rocks. The old wheatbin sits beside today's modern storage bins and offers a simple comparison between past and present day grain handling. For more information check out http://www.wheatbinmuseum.com.au or tel: 0427 553 622. The Museum is open between June and October from 10.00 am - 3.00 pm.
Self Drive Routes around Dalwallinu
The local Visitor Information Centre has information and maps for three interesting Self Drive Routes starting in Dalwallinu. They are:
* Heritage Wattle Trail - an 88 km route south east from the town to Petrudar Rocks.
* Heritage Rabbit Proof Fence Trail - a 129 km route east and north east of the town which includes Xantippe Rabbit Proof Fence, Calibro School (a fascinating mud brick school built by the local community and used by local children between 1939-1956) and the Wubin Wheatbin Museum.
* Heritage Everlasting Trail - which starts in Dalwallinu and passes through Wubin, Buntine and Miamoon. It is approximately 101 km.
The Wildflower Way starts at Dalwallinu and passes through Wubin, Buntine Rock, Maya, Latham, Caron Dam, Perenjori, Bowgada Nature Reserve, Morowa, War Rock, Gutha Hall, Canna, Tardun, Wilroy Nature Reserve before reaching Mullewa. It then extends to Geraldton. Check out http://www.australiasgoldenoutback.com/outback-australia-drive-routes/Outback_wildflower_trails/3-days---wildflower-way for a detailed three day journey through the area and go to http://www.westernaustralia.com/en/things_to_do/forest_and_flowers/pages/wawildflowers.aspx#/ where you can download a free and detailed holiday guide to Western Australia's Wildflowers. It describes this route as "Sprawling carpets of sensationally coloured Everlastings continue to delight travellers along this route - visit the Canna Landmark for a wealth of knowledge on local wildflowers.See: Native Foxglove and yellow Wattles."
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 need 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.
* Prior to the arrival of Europeans the district was home to both the Karlamaya and Badimaya First Nation people.
* In the late 19th century Benedictine monks from New Norcia brought their sheep to graze in the area.
* Settlers arrived in the Dalwallinu district around 1907. The settlers were attracted to the area by its potential for sheep grazing and wheat growing.
* The region was surveyed in 1909. A well was built at the southern end of the settlement in that year.
* By 1910 wheat and sheep farmers were selecting land in the area.
* The first crop of wheat was planted by hand (using a forked stick with wooden spikes) in 1910.
* In 1913 a railway station was established on the line between Wongan Hills and Mullewa.
* Dalwallinu was officially gazetted in 1914.
* The Dalwallinu Road Board was established in 1916.
* In 1932 it was announced that two grain elevators would be built at the railway station.^ TOP
Dalwallinu Discovery Centre, Johnston Street, tel: (08) 9661 1805.^ TOP
There is a good overview of the local attractions at http://www.dalwallinu.wa.gov.au/explore/what-to-do/wildflowers.aspx.^ TOP