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Moora, WA

Wheatbelt town once known as the "Capital of Victoria Plains"

Moora is a substantial wheatbelt town on the banks of the Moore River. Its primary function is to service the surrounding rural activities of sheep and cereal growing. The great appeal of the area lies in the excellent wildflower displays which occur in spring. There are many excellent walks and viewing points and the area is known to be home to some particularly exotic and rare species of orchids and flora.

Location

Moora is located 170 km north of Perth via Bindoon.

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Origin of Name

There are three possible interpretations of the town's name. When it was officially gazetted on 12 April, 1895 it was suggested that it was named after some sort of corruption of 'Maura' which was said to be the name the Nyoongar Aborigines gave to a well to the west of the town. Another interpretation is that Moora is the Aboriginal name of the locality, derived from "moora-moora" meaning 'good spirit' or that the area to the south was known by the Aboriginal place name, "murra murra". Another source gives Moora as an Aboriginal word meaning "grandparent".

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Things to See and Do

Moora Town Walk
The Moora Town Walk is a walk around town which includes historically interesting buildings as well the town's murals, the Moora Performing Arts Centre and the impressive Rotary clock. The places of particular interest are:

Rotary Clock
Located on the corner of Padbury and Dandaragan Streets, the Rotary Clock has been in position since the 1950s but the current one was built in 2005 by local artists Richard Apel and Natalie Tonk. Apel and Tonk took designs by local schoolchildren and turned them into panels which are backlit at night time. Each panel has a different theme:
"Northern Panel displays a country theme with sunshine and music as its base, depicted by digeridoos, guitars, music notes, country style hats, stars and an abstracted sun."
"Eastern Panel is made up of local Aboriginal icons, which includes turtles, fish and kangaroos set into the shape of a water bird standing stock still, as in camouflage. The clasped hands appear below an abstract tree."
"Southern Panel represents a family unit made up of father, mother and three children in negative flat steel form surrounded by a stained glass design depicting garden flowers."
"Western Panel depicts prevalent local flora icons in the form of a stylised elongated Salmon Gum, Banksias, Gum Nuts, together with Moora's emblem the Verticord Granda, alias 'Feather Flower'.

Post Office
Located on the corner of Padbury and Clinch streets, the Post Office was built in 1912. The original post office was operating in the town in 1896. This white stone building features a gabled roof of corrugated iron and wooden floors.

Moora Museum and Geneology Records Office
Located in Clinch Street in a very simple building, the Moora Museum is only open by appointment. The museum focuses its exhibits on the local area.  There are mobile numbers on the sign outside - )447 511 372 and 0427 827 929 for those wishing to inspect the collection.

St John the Baptist Catholic Church
Located in Kintore and built in 1909, St John the Baptist Catholic Church is characterised by a particularly attractive blue ironstone which was quarried on the property of the builder, D W Griffiths. The church was officially blessed by the Abbot of New Norcia, Bishop Filgentius Torres.

St James Anglican Church
Located in Roberts Street, St James Anglican Church was built in 1911. "The Victorian Gothic building was designed by William Nelson and built of stone with an iron roof and timber floors by a local builder." The western end was replaced with stone in 1954 and a new roof installed in 2006.

Moora Town Hall
The elegant old Moora Town Hall is located in Padbury Street. It was built in 1913 and operated as the council, and road board, offices until 1959. It was seriously damaged by the local floods in 1999 but was repaired and refurbished so that now it is used as the Moora Performing Arts Centre.

Uniting Church
Located in Padbury Street this stark building was formerly the Methodist Church. It was built in a simple Victorian style in 1909 from locally quarried sandstone and stone.

The Drovers Inn
Located on the corner of Dandaragan and Padbury Streets in the heart of Moora, the Drovers Inn was originally named the Commercial Hotel. It dates from 1909 when Gus Liebe, who had built Her Majesty's Theatre in Perth, opened it for customers.

Murals and Statues - Federation Park
The murals on Padbury Street depict the district’s agricultural and historical heritage. There is a mural on the Shire Council wall and another on Volunteer Fire Brigade wall. The Federation Park on the corner of Padbury and Clinch Street (which was once the town dam) has a life size bronze statue of a draught horse and kelpie.  The statues and murals are memorials to the animals and the people who helped to open up the area. The plaque at the draught horse notes: "As the original Moora Town Dam site, this park was steeped in horse tradition. It was the only public watering point for horses, providing an essential service for residents who used Moora as their railhead and business centre during the horse and cart era."

Six Walks Around Moora
There is an excellent, downloadable brochure (http://www.australiasgoldenoutback.com/uploads/Resources/ee81c8e3-79b4-45bd-8c6f-a64200bde121/Walks%20in%20the%20Shire%20of%20Moora.pdf). The walks are detailed in the brochure and include:

1. Carnaby's Cockatoo Interpretative Walk Trail - 3.4 km one way or a 7 km loop - this is an easy walk "along the banks of the Moore River and through Eucalypt woodland remnants. Interpretative signage can be viewed along the trail." It is called Carnaby's Cockatoo Walk Trail because, between July and February, if you are very lucky, you might spot the endangered Carnaby’s (or Short-Billed) Black Cockatoo which comes to Moora to breed in the hollows of old Salmon Gums and Wandoo trees. 

2. Candy's Bush Reserve - a 1 km circuit which is an easy walk and has displays of wildflowers and orchids between June and October. The Bush Reserve is a "patch of remnant Salmon Gum and Wandoo woodland on the south east corner of Moora which boasts 11 species of orchid."

3. Stack-Cooper Reserve - 400 m one way or 800 m circuit - it is a 4 ha reserve with stands of Salmon gums, shell orchids and York gum woodland.

4. Karamarra Reserve - a medium-to-hard walk in a 56 ha reserve 8 km west of Moora on the Dandaragan Road. There are no formal walks but the bush has a number of different vegetation types including impressive orchids as well as Casuarina obesa (Sheoak) in the wetter soils along Dandaragan Road and thick Melaleuca and prickly Hakeas in the sandier York Gum woodland. The reserve is best enjoyed in the winter/spring months.

5. Wheatbin Road Reserve - a 1.5 km walk - "5 km south of town on Wheatbin Road, this 24 ha reserve is easily accessible for a quick walk with a number of tracks which can be utilised. The reserve soil changes from gravel to sandy loam and so does the vegetation. Hakea, Dryandra (Banksia), Allocasuarina thicket gives way to Acacia and York gum woodland to the south dotted with Balgas (grass trees). The prickly thickets are attractive for small birds to feed and hide. The blue Calytrix leschenaultii (starflower), Cowslip and Blue China orchids can be seen during the winter months, and the reserve becomes a carpet of everlastings in wetter years." 

6. Cemetery-Airstrip Road Reserve - located next to the Town Cemetery this is a wonderland of "Smoke Bush (Conospermum), Emu Bush (Eremophilas), Wattles (Acacias) and Honey-Myrtles (Melaleucas) as well as huge Donkey orchids, Lemon Scented Sun Orchids, Catspaws and Spider orchids".

Moora Heritage Trail
In 1988, as a Bicentennial project, the Western Australian Heritage Committee produced a 24 page Moora Heritage Trail brochure which included the Berkshire Village as well as a number of interesting local historic locations including the local Court House, three Gothic churches and the Drovers Inn, all of which were built in the period immediately before World War 1.

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Other Attractions in the Area

Moora Wildflower Drive
Moora is recognised as the ‘gateway’ to the wildflower displays in the wheatbelt. It  stands at the junction of two very different botanical regions where the geology has produced different soil types and consequently different plant communities. To the east lie the ancient rocks (2000 million years old) of the Western Australian Shield. This area is characterised by fertile red soils and has been cleared for farming. To the west are the younger rocks of the Dandaragan Plateau, covered with poor sandy soils. The fault line is marked by the course of the Moore River. Amazingly the Shire of Moora is home to 2,364 species of plants and animals. The wildflower season around Moora runs from July to November.
There is very detailed information, and a downloadable map, at http://www.moora.wa.gov.au/moora-wildflower-drive-information.aspx. The information directs the keen wildflower observer to everything from York gums to banksia woodlands, wattle, blue Dampiera, yellow Kangaroo Paws, pink and white feather flowers, smokebush, Christmas tree, Saltmarsh honey myrtle, scarlet feather flowers, bush cauliflower, dryandras, lambswool, orchids, everlastings, Salmon gums and lilac hibiscus.Particularly impressive are the avenue of native trees on Midlands Road, the Jingemia Cave and Prices Road.

Watheroo Wildflower Drive
Watheroo is located 37 km north of Moora on the road to Geraldton. Eagle Hill Road leads to Jingemia Cave, an unusual cave which is formed in chert, an unsealed rock that produces flora on the hillside that is very different from the surrounding areas. The drive also passes around the edges of Watheroo National Park which was created in 1955, covers 1,634 ha and is rich in wildflowers.

A New Way to Explore Western Australia’s Wildflowers
A full and comprehensive exploration of Western Australia’s wildflowers has always been a challenge. On one level they are everywhere. On another level, specific and rare wildflowers can be very difficult to locate.
The truth is that there are over 12,000 floral species and 60% of them are found nowhere else on the planet. Yes, it really is that remarkable.
Now, at last, in a miracle of political co-operation, nine local councils – Moora, Dalwallinu, Coorow, Perenjori, Carnamah, Three Springs, Morowa, Mingenew and Geraldton – along with some help from the WA state government, have come up with an excellent solution.
Historically trying to see the specific rare flowers was a logistical nightmare. When I first explored the wildflower area I can remember that I innocently asked where I might see a wreath flower (they are a flower which naturally forms itself in a circle like a wreath) at the local coffee shop in Morowa. Morowa is one of the famed locations for this unique plant.
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 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.”
Yes, it really was that complicated. Locals were happy to help but it meant wandering around until you stumbed upon an expert ... unless you booked a coach tour with a gardening expert.
What the shire councils and the state government have done is take that kind of specific information and turn it into two, brilliantly constructed, wildflower routes through Western Australia’s Wildflower Country.
They have created two routes – The Wildflower Way and The Midland Route. The structure is inspired. There are a total of 38 places where the visitor, unfamiliar with the complexity of “chasing wildflowers” is shown some of the floral uniqueness of the area.
The first – The Wildflower Way- starts in Dalwallinu and passes through Perenjori, Morawa, Mullewa and ends up in Geraldton. It has a total of 21 specific locations and, just like the woman who advised me 30 years ago, the instructions are suitably arcane: “Turn off the Mullewa-Wubin Road and travel 3 km on Offszanka Road, then turn left onto North-East Canna Road: site is near church, behind old hall.”
The second – The Midlands Route – runs from Geraldton in the north down through Mingenew, Three Springs, Carnamah and Coorow to Moora.
That’s the challenge. Wildflowers grow in the most unlikely places – and they seem to be in the same place year after year. To help, each floral site has a logo of four flowers and a steet silhouette sculpture - so, hopefully, you won’t get lost.
The result: for the first time people wanting to see the wildflowers in all their diversity have logical maps and sensible signage to guide them.
The time to go and experience this unforgettable floral display: between the end of July and September. And, one word of advice, book your accommodation well ahead. Those tiny wheatbelt towns really don’t have very much accommodation and, quite frankly, some of it is very, very basic. There is more information at http://wildflowercountry.com.au. It is a hugely useful site.

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History

* Prior to the arrival of Europeans the area was home to the Yuat Aboriginal people, a dialect group of the Nyoongar people. 

* The area was first explored by George Fletcher Moore who named the Moore River in 1836.

* Between 1841-1845 shepherds working for the Drummond family and Captain John Scully began using the Victoria Plains.

* In 1842 Captain John Scully and the Drummond brothers travelled north through the area. 

* In 1846 the Lefroy Brothers took up 4,000 acres on what is now the Shire of Moora.

* By 1847 the first crop of wheat had been harvested in the area.

* In 1867 the mail run to the Moora Shire changed from a coastal run to an inland run through New Norcia.

* By 1870 the inland route had been surveyed by Alexander Forrest.

* In 1871 the Victoria Plains Road Board was formed. 

* By 1873 the telegraph had reached the area. The operator was a member of the family at Berkshire Valley. 

* The railway reached Moora in 1893.

* In 1894 the road from Moora to Walebing was surveyed.

* The town was officially gazetted on 12 April, 1895. 

* The local Post Office was built in 1896.

* In 1897 the town got a Police Station, school and Court House.

* In 1906 lots ranging from 100 acres to 1000 acres were offered for sale in the district. 80 potential purchasers applied.

* By 1907 the town had its own newspaper - the Midland Advocate.

* The Moora Road Board was gazetted in 1908.

* The first cars began to appear on local roads aroun 1912.

* In 1913 the Moora Road Board Hall was opened.

* Moora's water supply reached the town in 1933.

* After World War II settlers under the War Service Land Settlement Scheme arrived in the district.

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Visitor Information

Moora Community Resource and Visitors Centre, 65 Padbury Street, tel: (08) 9653 1053.

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Useful Websites

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

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